Colon cleaning company sues WordPress to try and deny reality

I’m writing this in English so it has maximum impact and reaches as many people as possible.

The company name is Zenyth Pharmaceuticals

Their main brand and product is ColonHelp.

This is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ColonHelp.ro

Please tell them what freedom of speech means to you.

The Story

Last year in July I wrote a damning article related to a colon cleansing product released by a local company.

The scientific data supporting the benefits of these products is small to non-existent and I have documented this in several articles concluding that mucoid plaque is simply a side-effect of colon cleansing products. This is the consensus of all my sources.

Although web links will not be available, you can read my original articles in the links below (helpfully translated by the company suing WordPress). There are 4 actual articles they only translated three. Hope the below formatting is ok and clear

Original post in English          Original post in Romanian

Follow up in English                Follow up in Romanian

Second followup in English    Actual second followup (not translated)

aa aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa       The  final post in Romanian

That brings us closer to today, but let me back up and explain the issues to those that have not read the pdf’s above.

The producers of the colon cleansing product mentioned in the posts contacted me a while ago (in the comments) claiming that I have damaged their reputation and should pay 100.000 euro for that damage. This was followed by me writing another post in which I explained why it’s generally a bad idea to sue people criticizing your company as it can only bring negative visibility.

Some friends were supportive and posted articles further detailing how the product is deceitful woo. They were also attacked with lawyer tactics and changed their original posts to exclude the brand name.

Well, some more time passed and I thought everything was fine, because really, a blog should not be able to affect a million dollar business that much. Life moved on and I’ve started writing about other pseudosciences, like iridology and the local health laws which support bogus treatments like quantum medicine and floral Bach remedies.

And then, today, WordPress notified me that the company has taken legal action against them (Automatic Inc) and provided the documents that were submitted to the courts.

Going over them, this is what they are saying:

1. I am a horrible person who completely denies the fact that the product is very popular and all I want to do is ruin their reputation because they are a fantastic company with fantastic products.

2. There is no evidence for any of my claims (disregarding the amount of links available which show mountains of data)

3. WordPress should take down all the posts related to them or in case that’s not feasible, shut down the blog

4. Kittens are dying and dogs are crying because of my articles.
Let’s get this straight:

a) I’m publishing every article under anonymity.

I’m doing this to protect myself against people like this, firstly because I’m not comfortable enough with the local laws to know what and when to say without risking lawsuits.

I’m working to promote skeptical thinking and scientific inquiry. This will inevitably lead to issues with those who are hurt by actually researching the scientific basis of their claims. I do not trust the legal system enough to publish with my name available. Also I need to be careful due to my working engagements and I can’t afford to be fired because I’ve upset some spin-doctor.

b) I have provided ample opportunity for dialogue

Following the initial threats I created an email address and happily advised the company to start talking to me about their concerns. I may have been snarky and said “bring me your evidence” however dialogue was available.
Nobody wrote to me so…

c) There is a lot of evidence that colon cleanses are useless

This is just one of the new forms of pseudoscience that have reached Romania so I considered it my duty to inform the public about the problems with the product. I have quoted expert gastroenterologists that agreed that there is no use for cleaning the colon. I have provided links to scientific studies and medical websites discussing the benefits, risks and side-effects of the ingredients of the product.

I also made a mistake

I wrote an email to the company saying I’m available to discuss changing my articles if they drop the suit against Automatic Inc (the owners of WordPress). This was initially composed to be saved as draft and sent if my attorney agreed, however, I clicked the wrong button. Fuck me, right?

I’ve been told this is a big mistake as it suggests I’m admitting guilt (which i’m not) however the harm is done.

Thing is, I’m not a bad guy

The articles are not here to make me money, I’m not writing due to being paid by competitors. I’m writing simply to help others understand that not everything that is being sold and marketed is necessarily good and healthy for them. I’m happy to say that my articles are viewed as well documented, well written and shared extensively on social networks.

My coworkers like me, I call my mom regularly, my soon-to-be-wife cuddles next to me in the evening, my cat is purring like a BMW, I am not evil.

I have no pleasure in having my articles and my blog be accused of malevolence, deceitfulness and outright lying (it’s all in the lawsuit papers). I am spending huge amounts of time away from fiancee and cat to write well documented articles and the only reward are the comments saying I did a good job.

I understand that stupendous claims must be made in order to be taken seriously by the courts (and honestly, read my articles above, I can just imagine judges bursting with laughter) but this is painting me in a light that is wrong.

That’s why I sent that email, to show that bridges are still there and a friendly agreement can be reached. Stupid idealists, let’s crush them with lawsuits!

I’m sure some innocent people are working for this company and they couldn’t care less if what I say is true or not.Accountants, drivers, support staff, cleaning people, everyone has a job. I may think (and may have proven) the company is selling a useless product but at least it’s paying people to work there. It’s a crisis, people need jobs, am I really ruining a functional company? So thinking about that, I sent an email.

However, I’m not waiting on a response anymore.

The lawsuit papers.

Are HERE: http://dl.transfer.ro/ColonHealth-transfer_ro-22dec-b769cc.zip

Word of warning, it’s mostly articles in RO and EN (which you have above) but there’s also the official request for the takedown order in RO and EN

What do I want?

Right now I simply want it to be known that a company is trying to shut down a well-regarded blog for simply stating facts. Or let’s put it another way, fact-based opinions. Screw people having the right to express their opinions!

They are claiming that I have affected their sales and brand image even though hundreds of thousands of people have used their products due to massive advertising campaigns. They have made 7 Million $ revenue in one year (as per documents submitted to the court)

I want people to know that colon cleanses are a baseless, fact-less, silly product that is marginally helpful in limited cases and potentially dangerous if instructions are not followed.

The company name is Zenyth Pharmaceuticals

Their main brand and product is ColonHelp.

Their Facebook page is here: https://www.facebook.com/ColonHelp.ro

Please tell everyone on the internet what they are doing. They are making a shit(ing) product and get upset when somebody calls it what it is.

TL;DR:

A pharmaceutical company promoting bogus products threatens anonymous blogger who exposed them with lawsuit. Fails because blogger is anonymous. Sues WordPress to get the blog down. Will hopefully fail.

In other news, pencil company gets sued because someone writes angry letters using pencils. Bookstore gets sued because offending books are being sold inside it. Cats and dogs live together.

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70 comentarii

Filed under Curățitorul și justiția, Pseudoștiință

70 responses to “Colon cleaning company sues WordPress to try and deny reality

  1. Pingback: Colon quacks sue WordPress | Josephine Jones

  2. It was very helpful of them to translate the posts into English, and thank you for writing this particular post in English. I hope it will indeed mean it reaches a wider audience.

    I have written my own post on this subject here and am encouraging other bloggers to join me.

    http://josephinejones.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/colon-quacks-sue-wordpress/

  3. anonymus

    ‘freedom comes with the price of vigilance’
    that’s what happens when crooks are given the same rights and benefit of the doubt. I would let them sue, and ask for compensation after they lost.

    • Who wants to waste years in courts? Not to mention they might play dirty games with my managers just to make life difficult.

      They would lose in a direct suit, I have no doubts about that.

  4. Pingback: ColonHelp a dat in judecata Wordpress | Logosfera

  5. Pingback: Morning Toolbox – October 11, 2012 – Legal Threats and Fair Use « Skeptical Software Tools

  6. Stefan

    Good luck! :) The German and European skeptics (GWUP & ECSO) support you via Twitter and spread the word. Just one remark: it’s Zenyth, not Zenith (as you wrote above).

  7. Pingback: Turd Sandwiches « iamologies

  8. Pingback: Colon cleaning company sues WordPress to try and deny reality | Insula Îndoielii | Itsaat

  9. vn

    Quick question : I just checked out the ingredients and it seems they use pretty harmless stuff like psyllium, etc. I personally take psyllium.

    Does it mean that it is not good?

    • insulaindoielii

      Psyllium is a reasonable product for some cases, taken with proper care.I haven’t found a lot of convincing evidence though.
      However they are selling an overpriced product claiming several unsupported health benefits while also saying they cure people of “mucoid plaque” which is a byproduct of actually eating their product.

      • I’ll subscribe to this. The product is quite overpriced. A bag of 250 grams of psyllium is around 2 Euros and if you try to make your own mix of active ingredients the cost would be around 5 euros. Good luck Insulaindoielii!

  10. It seems, however unlikely, that this colon cleansing company is full of shit.

  11. Pingback: Quack-Firma greift ins Klo: Klage gegen Wordpress @ gwup | die skeptiker

  12. I also appreciate this being in english and am an avid skeptic as well and this is just yet another attempt of a company trying to squash negative opinions of their product (which, I also have independently have come to the conclusion that colon cleansing has insufficient scientific evidence of benefit). Keep up the fight and know that at least one more US skeptic is also behind you.

  13. You’ve made the front page of Hacker News, which you are probably familiar with. If not, it can be described as a massive web community of hackers and entrepreneurs, many of whom are skeptics. So my question is now, what can we do to support you? Do you need money for legal bills? If so, stick up a Bitcoin address (taking care to maintain anonymity: http://thedailyattack.com/2011/06/16/maintaining-anonymity-while-using-bitcoins).

    There’s a huge number of fellow skeptics behind you and who appreciate what you’re doing. It shows a lot of integrity that you are concerned about WordPress, but Automatic is a big company and will take care of themselves — I’m sure they deal will this daily, from around the globe.

    • insulaindoielii

      Thank you so much.
      I do not need anything right now as I’m not involved in a lawsuit. They haven’t found me yet.
      Automattic will probably lose the suit by no-contest (who has the time to send or hire lawyers in Romania?)

      All I need is to spread this as much as possible, make it very well known that the company is suppressing simple criticism.

      If it hits the newspapers that’s even better as the local press will also notice it and hopefully start a discussion on how commercials to alternative products can be done.
      So that’s it, just spread this as much as possible, i’ll post any important updates in the same article.

      Thank you again for the support, each and everyone of you!

      • mm

        Just a tip:
        ‘Huffington Post’ would be a good place if you would be able to reach their site. Most of romanian press often quote stories from them.

  14. Brace yourselves, Streissand effect is coming!

  15. Liviu G.

    Ai sustinerea mea modesta. uite ce am postat pe facebook:

    1. Un sceptic scrie pe blogul propriu cum ca produsele colon help sunt niste minciuni pseudomedicale.
    2. Colon help il ameninta pe tip ca-l da in judecata si ii cer daune morale in valoare de 100.000 Euro
    3. Colon help da in judecata WordPress pentru refuzul de a divulga identitatea autorului.

    Vă invit sa va exprimati opiniile și sa incercam sa răspundem la intrebări precum: Cât căcat este fizic posibil sa mănânce firmele care produc medicina alternativă, dacă mai au loc in stomacel sau daca le-a ramas balegă intre dinți.
    Dacă nu ar emana duhoare de proști sunt sigur ca le-ar pute gura.

    • Salut, multumesc pentru sprijin.
      O mica eroare, nu dau in judecata WordPress pentru ca nu-mi divulga identitatea (WordPress nu are decat o adresa de email de la mine) ci pentru ca ei (WordPress) sa inchida blogul meu ca sa nu le mai afectez vanzarile sau imaginea.

      • bogdadn

        Vezi ca WordPress mai are si IP-ul tau, si daca o instanta ii obliga sa-l divulge, te vor putea identifica imediat. Asta in cazul in care conexiunea ta la internet nu e printr-o cartela prepaid…

  16. Silviu

    Salut! Era sa ma crucesc cand am citit, dar apoi mi-am dat seama ca nu sunt deloc credincios. :D

    Ma bucura mult ceea ce faci si iti urez mult succes si rabdare in continuare!
    Am “sheruit” si eu la randul meu articolul si i-am scris un mesaj lui Ben Goldacre, cel care a publicat Bad Science si, de curand Bad Pharma. Sper sa il faca si el public.

    Toate bune si sa stii ca nu esti singur in treaba asta (scuze ca suna asa dramatic), dar nici prea multi nu sunt prin tarisoara noastra!

  17. Your fellow skeptics and proponents of reason and free speech are behind you all the way. Don’t let intimidation tactics keep you from freely discussing facts and evidence. Cheers!

  18. Spreading this through Facebook, Twitter, the works.

  19. Yes! Pharma companies use naivity and other complex human faiblesses to SELL billions of dollars products. They only exploit human fears and sell, most of the times, useless or downright dangerous products labelled as ‘self-pseudo-medicating’ products. So people misuse them just as they have misused food before they got to the idea they need a colon cleanser.
    Actually, you know what? These people should pay for their confusion in the heads. Informing from your part will only get to those already prompted to doubt, thus, rather more intelligent than the average user of such products.

  20. nu iti fa griji, doar latra. tu scrie ce crezi si nu te lasa intimidat

  21. Maybe you should provide the legal documents through which you are being sued, so we have the proof to blog about. Might be useful for credibility.

    • insulaindoielii

      I’ll send these over to you via email.
      If anyone doubts the veracity, please let me know and i will provide.

  22. Why not publish them? Censor the personal data.

  23. Pingback: Living the future » Blog Archive » Medizinischer Shitstorm , ein windiger Pharmakonzern verklagt Wordpress

  24. The German Skeptics spread the word and wrote an article about the case:
    http://blog.gwup.net/2012/10/11/quack-firma-greift-ins-klo-klage-gegen-wordpress/ We also communicated to our communities at Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

  25. Irina T.

    Bravo! Keep up the good work and don’t get intimidated. It is quite akward that Zenyth Pharma did not use their PR company to manage the crisis and just called the lawyers in. Whatever the final result may be, it is bad PR for them and it already is. They only make it bigger with these actions.

  26. Pingback: Colon Help is a scam. Now with extra ridiculous. pe Trilema - Un blog de Mircea Popescu.

  27. Anon

    This might be of some use to you and will explain why Automattic forwarded you the documents and more: http://en.support.wordpress.com/disputes/

    • insulaindoielii

      Hi Anon, that is actually helpful, thank you very much.
      This means i can put them up for the world to see.

  28. Well done. I’ve shared your post with my FB friends. Kia kaha – you are in the right :)

  29. CRS

    Why not move your blog to a self-hosted WordPress installation so you don’t get removed by Automatic?

  30. Nelu Colonelu

    Colon Help: 7 billion colons cleaned and a world full of shit and lawsuits.

  31. This morning I commented on Zenyth’s Facebook page and asked them politely why they try to silence critics instead of talking to them. Now, about 12 hours later, Zenyth has deleted my comment from their Facebook page and never gave me any anwer. Of course, I made a screenshot of my comment and tweeted it. Feel free to spread the word, re-tweet and let Zenyth know that censorship doesn’t work when you mess with a strong, world-wide internet community and the Streisand effect! :)

    Here’s my tweet including the screenshot of the censored comment:

  32. Pingback: Skeptical Reporter @ 2012-10-12 - Sceptici în România

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  37. you could make some banners for support ….. i will post it on my blog. outinmures.ro we have also a strong community of online activists we can spread the word preety easy :D. and yeah, i`m doctor also :D

    • Hi Mihai,

      Right now I’m waiting for the decision to come through. If anything happens to me personally I will let everyone know because it’s not about my own words it’s about being free to express opinions freely without harassment.

  38. Pingback: Cum ajung o companie farmaceutică globală și un blogger sceptic din România să se judece în America? | La colţu' străzii

  39. Pingback: Bucharest Life | Bad science, Romania style | Romania

  40. Reblogged this on loloablestuff and commented:
    Incă un produs (şi efect) de marketing ce-şi arată adevăraţii colţi şi, mai grav, au de suferit tot cei bineintenţionaţi!

  41. Pingback: E blogul meu, scriu ce vreau pe el. Sau nu? - Marius Sescu

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  43. Pingback: Zenyth Pharmaceuticals could use a reality check IMHO | Cheesemeister's Lair

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  45. Tache Madalin

    Keep it simple. Don’t frown. Kick their asses.

  46. Jordan

    Initlal am fost de partea ta, dar citind pasajul
    “Cartea aceasta ar trebui sa fie foarte scurta considerand ce am discutat mai devreme insa, din pacate, e scrisa de un sustinator al mai multor pseudostiinte precum homeopatia, iridiologia, acupunctura și tot asa.”

    mi-am dat seama ca avem pareri complet diferite. Acupunctura si homeopatia – pseudo stiinte? De ce, doar pentru ca nu se predau in institutii acreditate de Ministerul Educatiei? Mi se pare o viziune crunt de opaca…

    • Nu de-asta Jordan, ci pentru ca nu si-au dovedit eficacitatea terapeutica în studii de calitate.

      În cazul homeopatiei pentru ca nu are nici un fel de plauzibilitate iar acupunctura nu a reușit să arate că e mai utila decât efectul placebo. Vezi va am o serie de articole despre homeopatie care te-ar putea convinge.

  47. Pingback: ColonHelp vs. Wordpress. Proces fără precedent în România | TOTB.ro - Think Outside the Box

  48. Hell

    aghhhhhhhhhh, i pay alot of many for that product and ….. after few days i drop them trash can coz it was useful…. a good botle of alcohol have better results… lol

  49. Pingback: Corporatia ColonHelp da in judecata organizatia Wordpress pentru ca a permis unui blogger roman sa critice produsul comercializat de ei! Se pare ca vor sa ne incalce si dreptul omului la libera exprimare! | Fara Secrete Romania: Reptilieni ANUNNAKI, Consp

  50. Robert

    Don’t get bullied around, well done! Love the TL:DR addition !