CLARK COUNTY, Nev.On June 24, Trigg Laboratories Inc., maker of Wet personal lubricants and other products, sent out a press release informing adult retailers and the public that the company would no longer sell its products through adult distributors but would instead sell directly to retailers, at that time promising “uniform and consistent wholesale pricing” among other perks. That announcement led Williams Trading Co. to file its own press release two days later, which AVN declined to post, stating that Williams would be “selling down all Wet lubricants,” which products would “no longer be available for re-orders.” That announcement, though apparently factually correct, didn’t sit too well with Triggand it liked the pair of e-blasts that Williams sent to retailers afterwards even less. The first email referenced “hard to get Wet products” and offered its customers a different brand of lube. When Trigg CEO Michael Trigg emailed a Williams executive claiming that Williams’ e-blast was “libelous and anti-competitive,” and demanding that Williams correct the email, Williams issued a second email titled “Correction to email July 1st Regard Wet Product Availability,” which stated in part, “Once inventory is depleted dealers may continue to purchase WET products from WET DIRECT or select another brand from Williams Trading Co.” and added, “We are fully stocked with all major lubricant brands.” [Emphasis in original] But as Trigg saw it, the new email was again misleading in that it failed to note that Wet products were available directly from Trigg, failed to include a link to where Wet products could be purchased, and to Trigg’s umbrage, implied that Wet was not a “major brand.” In short, Trigg determined that this new email was merely adding insult to injury, and on July 22, the company filed suit in Nevada against Williams Trading Co. and ten “Does” charging that Williams had engaged in “knowing, willful, and intentional efforts to damage Trigg’s Wet trademarks, products and goodwill,” and had attempted to “improperly and unlawfully divert sales to competing brands and products.” The lawsuit contains four major causes of action. The first charges that Williams’ emails “misrepresented the nature, characteristics, qualities, and availability of Trigg’s products” which therefore caused Trigg to “suffer injury to it sales and goodwill,” and further charged that Williams had “committed deceptive trade practices” under Nevada law, which conduct was “willful, wanton, malicious [and] oppressive.” The second cause of action charges that Williams and the Does “have each violated the common law of product disparagement and trade libel by using false or misleading descriptions and representations of fact in commercial advertising or promotion in connection with goods in interstate commerce belonging to a commercial competitor” for some of the statements in Williams’ email blasts. The third cause of action reiterates Williams’ actions through its e-blasts and charges that they are “likely to deceive and confuse the public as well as harm Trigg.” The lawsuit’s final cause of action charges that the Williams defendants “interfered with … existing and prospective business advantages and contractual relationships” with existing and prospective clients and customers “by, among other things, communicating false, defamatory, and disparaging statements and information about Trigg, its products and services, and its business operations.” “Defendants knew or should have known that their actions would have a severe, detrimental effect on Trigg’s existing and prospective business relationships and contractual relations,” the lawsuit claims. In all, Trigg claims to have suffered in excess of $15,000 in damages as a result of Williams’ statements, and in its “Prayer for Relief,” Trigg wants Williams to issue an “e-blast to the same retailers to whom the prior e-blast were sent” and to issue a press release to industry trade publications essentially retracting several statements from previous Williams emails and promising not to “unfairly compet[e] with Trigg in any manner” or help anyone else to do so. In a press release issued Monday by Trigg, CEO Michael Trigg stated, “We have been in business with Williams for over three decades and prospered mutually. Their annual WET® sales were over $500,000. They thank us by stabbing us in the back, because we adapted to market changes. Introducing the Buy Wet Direct program to retailers and bypassing the middleman for WET® products is a big win for retailers. No other distributor reacted to this transition in that way. Still, we gave them a chance to appropriately correct their conduct and they refused. We filed this legal action to protect our formidable reputation and goodwill.” When contacted by AVN, a spokesperson for Williams Trading Co. declined to issue a statement regarding the lawsuit. The full lawsuit filed in the District Court for Clarke County, Nevada may be found here.
written by: Mark Kernes