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Competitor 301'd to my site, threatened legal action

Discussion in 'Black Hat SEO' started by afro25, Jul 16, 2015.

  1. afro25

    afro25 Regular Member

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    Not entirely sure of the best place for this to be honest, but please have it moved elsewhere if it needs.

    A few months back I announced a new product and gained a large audience very, very quickly. A couple of weeks later a competitor arose and starting selling their smaller, more expensive version. They have been selling online for several years, doing semi-related things, but only decided to start selling this new product after ours was announced - because they've been online for years they have numerous domains, several relevant to their business name, however one of which is registered with false details.

    Today, after launching my product to an extremely receptive audience and making hundreds of sales, this competitor is attempting to defame me and threatening legal action, stating that I am using this one domain of his to redirect traffic to my site. I'm baffled.

    If this is making no sense, it's because I've spent the whole day not sleeping or eating trying to resolve this, but I'll break it down:

    1. Competitor has domains such as .com / .biz / .info etc
    2. In the same year of registering the others (3-4yr ago) Competitor registered .org using false registration data, for some reason or another
    3. I pop up a few month ago, announce my product which is only semi-related to some of the things he was doing at the time
    4. Competitor sees me do this, copies my product and attempts to sell it, getting some good engagement but it ultimately falls flat and appears to make very few (if any) sales
    5. I launch my product to astounding success, he then sees this
    6. Competitor takes his falsely-registered .org domain and 301 redirects it to mine, then proceeds to threaten me with legal action stating that I purchased or hacked a branded domain to redirect traffic to my site. He says this is not his domain, but because it is branded he has trademark rights.
    7. I spend 6+ hours attempting to use .htaccess to prevent the redirect, but this seems impossible so far
    8. Before Competitor can post about this online and defame me, I redirect my whole website to another random site - now his site no longer directs to mine, but neither does mine, which is losing conversions.

    That is now where I'm stuck - the competitor is adamant that I have taken this domain (which doesn't appear to have been used at all since being registered until now) and used it to redirect anyone who goes to that address. I would really appreciate it if someone might know how I can prevent his site from redirecting to mine. From what I've researched it may be impossible - it's a redirect so doesn't pass referrer information, so I seem unable to block it with .htaccess. I toyed with the idea of trying to redirect or block all direct traffic visitors (which I believe is how a 301 redirect would appear), but can't find out how I can do this.

    To confirm: I've searched (and searched and searched and searched) for 6+ hours to find an answer to this question, but the only things I can find are answers from people who think the question was regarding referral traffic, not redirected traffic.

    Does anyone know a way around this at all?
     
  2. zubidoo

    zubidoo Regular Member

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    I think your competitor is bluffing about taking legal action. Have you tried contacting the 301 domain's registrar?
     
  3. afro25

    afro25 Regular Member

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    Yeah we think so too so that's not what we're really concerned about - if they post about it online on social media then because they have a big following and our audiences overlap a lot, they could quite successfully dupe a few thousand people into thinking we're the ones doing it (I can only think of the virality of the australian guy who was wrongly portrayed as a pedophile on Facebook, which had a couple hundred thousand likes before he contacted police to prove he was taking a selfie instead of a photo of this womans' children).

    Have tried contacting the registar via phone, email and Facebook. No replies online and over the phone I was told that they will only deal with the account owner, so will not help me.

    I've submitted a report to ICANN/the equivalent because of the false information, but they will take a 2-3 weeks in total to fully resolve everything (that's if they do even decide to proceed with it), but I'm desperately trying to resolve it sooner..

    Probably should have mentioned in the OP, but the success is because of a once-only promotion campaign that we announced the product would be launched on (to which they have copied, again), and I'm worried that if I can't resolve this soon, then this could potentially waste a gigantic opportunity that I will never be able to take again. God damn competitors causing shit!
     
  4. TheSEOWizard

    TheSEOWizard Power Member

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    If your competitor is redirecting "his" domain which "he" owns, where are you to be blamed or held responsible in case of any legal action? He just seems to be bluffing and nothing else.
     
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  5. semiprodota

    semiprodota Junior Member

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    Your best bet is to think of a way to spin it in your favor if he does decide to take it to social media. Also perhaps contact an attorney and look into libel
     
  6. hustleandflo

    hustleandflo Newbie

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    Okay, let me get this straight... People go to the fake site it 301's to your site
    Right?

    Is there a way to have your site check the referrer when people land on the page? Can you for instance have it look and see that they came from the fake site and then have it redirect them somewhere else? Perhaps a hidden page on your site that says "Oops, were you looking for competitors site?" that way you are safe? Sorry if this is hard to understand but it is late.

    -HnF
     
  7. drogon

    drogon Elite Member Premium Member

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    This is really simple. You do not own this redirect domain so you cannot be sued since the .org registrar would have the info of the CC and email used etc (if it came down to that). Second, i dont think the audience following you or your competitor cares about who owns or does not own a 301 redirect and where it is pointing!

    Why you have gone and 301 your domain to another domain makes no sense either since if the .org in question was 301 to your original domain then it's now 301 (double 301) to your new domain anyway. Domain A points to domain B and domain B points to domain C then it follows domain A is now pointing to domain C!!!

    Anyway, maybe there is more to this or not explained properly but i would just continue business as usual and would not lose any sleep over this!!
     
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  8. 008Rohit

    008Rohit Regular Member

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    I think this might be done using .htaccess. Whenever someone visits your site from that redirected domain, you could redirect them back to your competitor's site.

    The same way some PBN people redirect Ahrefs and other bots to other random sites when they visit their PBN sites. I don't have the code though.
     
  9. Standard Toaster

    Standard Toaster Regular Member

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    Try this maybe:
    http://www.htaccess-guide.com/deny-visitors-by-referrer/



    Also, looks like you are scared of the legal action. I would say don't let this thing stress you to that extent. You have already made hundreds of sales, so you are probably doing well. Get some legal advice maybe.

    Also, not sure how bigger in comparison is your competitor but try talking to them directly. Tell them its not you. Its one think creating a shitstorm but people tend to be nicer when confronted directly.

    Good luck.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 16, 2015
  10. soccerlover

    soccerlover Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Your competitor is bluffing you ;)
     
  11. randybishop

    randybishop Elite Member

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    Regarding the fallout regarding negative marketing, you've got to get out in front of it
    and defuse the situation.
    Be the first to talk about this issue on social media with your customers. Something like
    "a competitor that copied our product is trying to threaten us with baseless legal action.
    It's because they have a copy-cat inferior product that they are grasping at straws
    and trying to hurt our business..." Something to get your customers on your side
    before the competitor drops the bomb so they will expect and ignore it.
     
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  12. antichrist

    antichrist Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Not that it matters, but I would redirect the referral traffic to a page telling this guy to fuck off. Then send him an email and tell him you fixed it.
     
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  13. asap1

    asap1 BANNED BANNED Jr. VIP

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    Forget about this guy, if he takes legal action he has to prove that you hacked/purchased the domain which he cannot do.
     
  14. BallticklersFC

    BallticklersFC Newbie

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    Dont worry about the F'er,Tell him to take legal action to prove you own it,otherwise he pays all court costs as per usuall,should keep him honest if he really owns the domian
    In the mean time Just redirect him to
    thekickback.com/rickroll/rickroll.php
    And also take preemptive action on social media as some have suggested,sometimes Attack is the best defense.
     
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  15. BallticklersFC

    BallticklersFC Newbie

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    In addition to all the advice I would also make a big deal of highlighting Copycats in your future product launches..i.e watch out for copycats watch out for imitations etc...you can prove this later if needed with before and after shots and time stamps..something to keep in your backpocket arsenal if social shit fight escelates in future.
     
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  16. KHer0

    KHer0 Supreme Member

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    I don't know if I got this right, but some one redirected a domain to you and you are afraid of legal action !!

    WTF :D You are not responsible for any redirects r backlinks, if it holds any power or sends me traffic I will enjoy it :D

    Actually, if I were you, I would start powering this 301 with GSA and get some extra Juice ^_^
     
  17. lancis

    lancis Elite Member

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    Code:
    RewriteEngine on
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} ^http://www\.offender\.org [NC]
    RewriteRule ^ http://amishrakefight.org/gfy/ [R]
    
    Try this. Otherwise you have nothing to fear, he will never win in the court if the domain doesnt belong to you.
     
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  18. Deez The Webguru

    Deez The Webguru Junior Member

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    From a legal point of view, there is sweet fck all he can do to you. He is merely trying to "milk" a few $$$ from you because he is too useless to make money any other way.

    This sort of case wont even make it as far as a courtroom parking lot. I wouldn't stress about it, you can tell him to please proceed with legal action. Tell him your legal team has reviewed all the information provided and there is absolutely no wrong doing on your side. Watch how fast he "disappears"
     
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  19. afro25

    afro25 Regular Member

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    Thanks for all the advice everyone.


    I should have updated the OP: I'm not really worried about legal action - there's no way any of this can be traced to me at all.


    What I am worried about is social media - his following is more than twice of the size of mine and there is probably at least at 50% crossover of fans.


    His company has been around a lot longer than mine and they have also made a lot (A LOT) of friends in the industry. If he posts about this, it could essentially ruin my company, because on social media people will believe the first thing they see without looking for evidence.


    As for the redirect itself, a few of you mentioned some changes to .htaccess to block / redirect the referrer, however this is a 301 redirect that's dropping referrer data - because of this I'm unable to specify referrer data in .htaccess to stop this from happening.



    Yup he's bluffing, but could convince my audience that this is something I have done.



    Definitely have thought about that and trying to use it as a last resort, but as I'm not having any luck stopping this happening I suppose I'll have to post about it first.



    Unfortunately not, the 301 drops the referrer :/



    Have redirected it to the event's website, but a neutral page that is neither ours nor theirs. I'd hope the audience wouldn't care, but they have been around far longer than us and are well known / trusted, whereas we've been here for a few months.




    Nope, the 301 drops the referrer :/


    They are over twice our size and have been going 3-4 years. Am talking to them through a 3rd party (it's a small industry and we all have many friends who cross over) - we have pointed out numerous things, such as the domain being purchased 3 years ago, but they continue to say that we are behind this and threaten to publish about it.



    Will get on to that shortly, if there's no other way around it...



    Can't redirect it, 301 drops the referrer.



    Yup, but the fallout online with our audiences could be bad if he wants to keep going.



    It holds no power and has no links or traffic I'm guessing as it's never been mentioned online before (this specific domain), but legal action isn't the issue, it's the fallout online.



    Tried I'm afraid, but the 301 drops the referrrer so it won't work.





    Wish he would disappear, but he's been messing around and building up to things for months since we've appeared - legal action is no problem, but the online fallout is, and I'm sure he will probably go ahead with that...
     
  20. Vandyke

    Vandyke Junior Member

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    My 2 cents?

    While he threaten fake legal actions, you should consider starting a REAL legal action for the defamatory public communications issue by your competitor through the social media; At least have your lawyer send em a Cease and Desist, and then publish the fact that while "they threaten" fake legal actions, you are proceeding against their defamatory communication for real.
    Really, have your lawyers send em a Cease and Desist asap.
     
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