Opinion Corp LLC / Pissedconsumer.com - Pissedconsumer.com being sued for Racketeering - RICO

Posted on Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 at 5:03pm CST by 74a48ecf

Product: Opinon Corp LLC

Company: Opinion Corp LLC / Pissedconsumer.com

Location: Brooklyn, NY, US

URL: http://www.scribd.com/doc/38567866/Ascentive-v-PissedConsumer-Complaint

Category: Other

THIS COMPLAINT IS LISTED ON-LINE @ http://www.scribd.com/doc/38567866/Ascentive-v-PissedConsumer-Complaint

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK

ASCENTIVE, LLC,

Plaintiff,

v.

OPINION CORP. d/b/a

PISSEDCONSUMER.COM, MICHAEL

PODOLSKY, JOANNA SIMPSON, and

ALEX SYROV,

Defendants.

HOME ADDRESS;

Michael Podolsky

130 Combs

Woodmere, NY 11598

HOME ADDRESS;

Alex Syrov

1856, 13th St. Apt 2-B

Brooklyn, NY 11229

212-695-8100

Civil Action No._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

COMPLAINT

1.

Plaintiff Ascentive, LLC (???Ascentive???), is suffering irreparable harm as a result of

the extortionate scheme of defendants Opinion Corp. d/b/a PissedConsumer.com, Michael

Podolsky, Joanna Simpson and Alex Syrov (collectively, ???Defendants??? or ???PissedConsumer???).

Under this scheme, PissedConsumer encouraged consumer internet complaints against

businesses, including Ascentive. Pissed Consumer then offered to remove these complaints,

which harm Ascentive???s business and reputation, only if Ascentive agreed to pay substantia

1. Plaintiff Ascentive, LLC (???Ascentive???), is suffering irreparable harm as a result of

the extortionate scheme of defendants Opinion Corp. d/b/a PissedConsumer.com, Michael

Podolsky, Joanna Simpson and Alex Syrov (collectively, ???Defendants??? or ???PissedConsumer???).

Under this scheme, PissedConsumer encouraged consumer internet complaints against

businesses, including Ascentive. Pissed Consumer then offered to remove these complaints,

which harm Ascentive???s business and reputation, only if Ascentive agreed to pay substantial

sums of money to PissedConsumer and not to disclose the payments or certain other information about PissedConsumer???s ???custom reputation management??? services

2. PissedConsumer???s practices constitute (1) racketeering under the civil

Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (???RICO???), 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(c) and (d), based on predicate acts of extortion and commercial bribery; (2) trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. ?? 1051 et seq.; (3) common law trademark infringement, unfair competition and false advertising, (4) unfair methods of competition and unfair acts and practices under 73 P.S. 201-2; (5) intentional interference with contractual relations and prospective contractual relations; and (6) unjust enrichment

3.

Ascentive further requests a declaration that the ???non-disclosure agreement???

PissedConsumer forced Ascentive to sign is void as against public policy.

THE PARTIES

4.

Ascentive is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of

Delaware with its principal place of business at 201 Spring Garden Street, Philadelphia,

Pennsylvania, 19123.

5.

Defendant Opinion Corp. d/b/a PissedConsumer.com (???Opinion Corp???) is a New

York corporation. Upon information and belief, Opinion Corp.???s principal place of business is at

1204 Avenue U, Suite 1080 Brooklyn, NY 11229.

6.

Upon information and belief, defendant Michael Podolsky is the chief executive

officer of Opinion Corp. and an individual residing at 130 Combs, Woodmere, NY 11598. Mr. Podolsky controls and operates the PissedConsumer website, had a series

of communications with Ascentive???s director of marketing Ian Singer and, as described below,

committed multiple predicate acts in violation of the RICO statute.

7.

Upon information and belief, defendant Alex Syrov is the president of Opinion

Corp. and an individual residing at 1856, 13th St. Apt 2-B, Brooklyn, NY 11229. Mr. Syrov controls and operates the PissedConsumer website and, as described below, committed

multiple predicate acts in violation of the RICO statute.

8.

Upon information and belief, defendant Joanna Clark Simpson is Opinion Corp.???s

marketing director and an individual residing in the state of New York. Ms. Simpson authored

and published press releases on Opinion Corp.???s behalf. Ms. Simpson controls and operates the

PissedConsumer website and, as described below, committed multiple predicate acts in violation

of the RICO statute.

9.

Upon information and belief, Ms. Simpson also controls and operates the Twitter

accountsh t t p : / / t w i t t e r . c o m / c o n s u m e r _ p r e s s andh t t p : / / t w i t t e r . c o m / p i s s e d c o n s u m e r.

10.

Upon information and belief, defendants Opinion Corp., Joanna Simpson, Alex

Syrov, and Michael Podolsky advertise, solicit clients, and conduct substantial amounts of

business in the State of New York.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

11.

This complaint arises under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. ?? 1125 and 15 U.S.C. ??

1114, and the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (???RICO???), 18 U.S.C. ??

1962 (c) and (d).

12.

This Court has federal question jurisdiction over these claims pursuant to 15

U.S.C. ?? 1121 and 28 U.S.C. ???? 1331, 1338(a) and 1338(b). This Court has supplemental

jurisdiction over the state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. ?? 1367 because those claims are so

closely related to the federal claims brought in this complaint as to form part of the same case or

controversy.

13.

Defendants are citizens of New York and subject to personal jurisdiction in New

York.

14.

Venue is proper in this district under 28 U.S.C. ?? 1391 (b)(1) because all

defendants reside in the State of New York and in this district.

FACTS

A. Ascentive???s Intellectual Property and Computer Software Products

15.

Ascentive develops and sells computer software products that enhance and protect

personal computers, including improving system performance, increasing speed, ensuring

privacy, and eliminating the threat of spyware.1

16.

Over the past decade, Ascentive has developed a reputation as a leader in the

personal computer software industry. Ascentive has marketed more than a dozen computer

software products, receiving accolades from media outlets including The Wall Street Journal,

Newsweek, Forbes, Tech TV and NBC.

17.

Ascentive owns a trademark registration for its ASCENTIVE trademark in the

United States Patent and Trademark Office, Reg. No. 3,091,824 (issued May 16, 2006).

18.

Ascentive also owns registrations in the United States Patent and Trademark

Office for its FINALLYFAST.COM trademark (Reg. No. 3,533,775, issued Nov. 18, 2008),

FINALLY FAST trademark (Reg. No. 3,727,610, issued Dec. 22, 2009), and FINALLYFAST

trademark (Reg. No. 3,727,611, issued Dec. 22, 2009).

19.

Ascentive???s trademarks are inherently distinctive.

20.

Ascentive has run advertisements for its products and services nationwide, and

also has invested heavily in international marketing.

21.

Ascentive operates a number of websites, includingw w w . a s c e n t i v e . c o m and

www.finallyfast.com, where its computer software products are advertised, sold, and made

available for download.

1 Spyware is harmful software used to collect information and data from personal computers,

which may be downloaded and installed without the computer user???s consent.

22.

In addition to its extensive online advertising, Ascentive develops and airs

television advertisements that encourage consumers to search for its software products online by

brand name, and to subsequently buy and download these products.

23.

In 2009, Ascentive derived approximately 99 percent of its revenues from online

sales from its websites.

24.

Ascentive is a Microsoft Certified Partner and its software has been recently

tested by various third parties such as StopBadware.org. These tests have established that

Ascentive???s software is safe for personal computers.

B.

PissedConsumer Falsely Claims to Function as an Unbiased Consumer Advocacy

Group Through Its Operation of PissedConsumer.com

25.

PissedConsumer owns, operates and maintains the website located at

www.pissedconsumer.com.

26.

PissedConsumer invites consumers to post public complaints on its website

www.pissedconsumer.com from their personal computers and mobile phones.

27.

PissedConsumer publishes a ???PissedConsumer??? iPhone application and advertises

heavily on Facebook.

28.

PissedConsumer has published numerous press releases claiming that it is an

unbiased ???premier consumer advocacy group.??? Upon information and belief, these press releases

were authored by Opinion Corp. and defendant Joanna Clark Simpson.S e e Press Releases,

attached as Exhibit 1.

29.

PissedConsumer advertises itself to the public as a consumer review website that

allows consumers to ???make better choices??? between competing products and gives consumers an

???empowering??? and ???unbiased??? view of companies and products.

30.

PissedConsumer states: ???Share your unbiased consumer review for the product or

service with other customers. Are you ready to say: I am pissed????I d. (emphasis added).

31.

As explained more fully below, however, PissedConsumer???s representation that it

functions as an unbiased consumer advocacy group is false.

32.

PissedConsumer encourages and creates the most negative postings it can on the

PissedConsumer website, displays those postings as prominently on the internet as possible, and

relates those postings as closely as possible to the companies??? brand names. PissedConsumer

has an incentive to engage in these practices because they induce the victims of the ???complaints???

to pay PissedConsumer the substantial sums of money it demands from the victims on an

ongoing basis.

33.

If the victims of the complaints pay PissedConsumer in accordance with its

exorbitant demands, PissedConsumer will remove, recategorize, hide and filter existing and new

complaints submitted by third parties for publication on its website. PissedConsumer offers to

act as a ???gatekeeper??? for these companies, ensuring that new negative complaints are not posted

by consumers and existing negative complaints on its website are hidden, removed, or turned

into positive testimonials.

34.

Moreover, PissedConsumer makes no attempt to discern which complaints are

legitimate and which are fake or false.

35.

Any anonymous computer user can post a complaint on PissedConsumer???s

website.

36.

Unless the victim of the false, negative complaint pays PissedConsumer the

exorbitant sums it demands, PissedConsumer will not require the complaint???s author reveal his or

her true identity or contact information.

37.

???Complaints??? on PissedConsumer???s website may be, and often are, completely

false and defamatory.

38.

Any anonymous computer user can post a complaint. PissedConsumer refuses to

reveal who has posted the complaints. Accordingly, Plaintiff cannot determine whether, instead

of being posted by actual consumers of the products, the complaints may instead be posted by

PissedConsumer itself, or by competitors of the target company that are simply seeking to harm

that target company's reputation in order to increase their own sales.

C.

PissedConsumer???s Use of Ascentive???s Trademarks in PissedConsumer???s Website

Text, Subdomains and Metadata.

39.

PissedConsumer creates ???subdomains,??? or named domains that are part of its

larger ???PissedConsumer.com??? domain name, atw w w . p i s s e d c o n s u m e r . c o m.

40.

PissedConsumer created two ???subdomains??? associated with Ascentive,

http://finallyfast.pissedconsumer.coma n d http://ascentive.pissedconsumer.com.

41.

PissedConsumer uses the trademarks ???Ascentive??? and ???FinallyFast??? in connection

with these subdomains. Ascentive???s trademarks are displayed to consumers visiting

PissedConsumer???s website in the text displayed ath t t p : / / f i n a l l yf a s t . p i s s e d c o n s u m e r . c o m and

http://ascentive.pissedconsumer.com and in the subdomain addresses themselves.S e e Printouts

from PissedConsumer.com, attached as Exhibit 2.

42.

PissedConsumer also uses Ascentive???s trademarks in the metadata associated with

its website.2

2 Metadata is data associated with a website that is written in HTML code and read by search

engines that index the website. Computer users using Internet Explorer can view a website???s

metadata if they select ???View??? and ???Source??? in the menu bar when visiting the website. The

metadata at ascentive.pissedconsumer.com, for example, repeatedly includes the trademark

???ascentive.???S e e MetaData Printout (excerpted and highlighted), attached as Exhibit 3.

functions as an unbiased consumer advocacy group is false.

42.

PissedConsumer also uses Ascentive???s trademarks in the metadata associated with

its website.2

2 Metadata is data associated with a website that is written in HTML code and read by search

engines that index the website. Computer users using Internet Explorer can view a website???s

metadata if they select ???View??? and ???Source??? in the menu bar when visiting the website. The

metadata at ascentive.pissedconsumer.com, for example, repeatedly includes the trademark

???ascentive.???S e e MetaData Printout (excerpted and highlighted), attached as Exhibit 3.

44.

PissedConsumer???s website contains descriptions of Ascentive and its products

posted by PissedConsumer. For example, PissedConsumer???s website states: ???Ascentive LLC is

an American company. The company offers such products and services as internet optimizer,

internet monitoring software, fix registry errors, clean windows registry, eliminate spyware,

memory optimizer, system optimizer, spam protection, business ad government, employee

monitoring software, and so much more. Ascentive offers free trials for almost all the products.???

Ex. 2.

45.

Alongside this description of Ascentive, PissedConsumer displays numerous

advertisements for third parties??? products and services, including but not limited to

advertisements for internet monitoring software, registry error cleaners, internet optimizers,

spyware software and spam protection software. These advertisements offer the same ???free

download??? and ???free scan??? offered by Ascentive. Ex. 2.

46.

Many of these third-party advertisements promote the products of Ascentive???s

direct competitors.I d.

47.

The advertisements are displayed through Google???s ???AdWords??? advertising

program, in which Google allows PissedConsumer to profit from this display of third-party

advertisements on its website every time a consumer clicks on one of the advertisements.

48.

PissedConsumer???s webpages feature so many advertisements of Ascentive???s

competitors, displayed in a cluttered fashion and used in connection with Ascentive???s

9

trademarks, that consumers seeking Ascentive???s products are likely to be redirected by

PissedConsumer to the websites of Ascentive???s competitors.

49.

The Google AdWords advertising program compensates PissedConsumer based

on the number of clicks on the advertisements on its website and therefore PissedConsumer

profits from this type of consumer confusion in the form of click-through fees.

50.

Although there are also comments and reviews of Ascentive???s products,

purportedly posted by anonymous third parties, these comments and reviews are at the bottom of

the webpages. The focus of PissedConsumer???s webpages is the third-party advertisements.I d.

D.

Consumers Are Further Misled By PissedConsumer???s Improper ???Search Engine

Optimization??? Tactics

51.

When a consumer searches on Google???s search engine for Ascentive???s trademark

- ???Ascentive??? ??? PissedConsumer???s website ???Ascentive.PissedConsumer.com??? often appears in

the first two websites listed in Google???s search results for ???Ascentive???.S e e Google Search

Results for Ascentive, attached as Exhibit 4. This is despite the fact that PissedConsumer???s

website offers little to no content about Ascentive and its products.

52.

This high Google ranking results from PissedConsumer???s practice of ???SEO??? or

???search engine optimization,??? which refers to the process through which a company improves its

website???s visibility or ranking in search engines??? ???natural??? or unpaid search results.

53.

PissedConsumer employs various deceptive SEO practices to be ranked in the

first two search results on Google, and equally prominently by other search engines such as Bing

and Yahoo! These deceptive practices include:

A.

Buying hundreds of domain names and using them to create links to

PissedConsumer???s website, so that PissedConsumer???s website appears

prominently in search engine search results despite the fact that these inbound

links have nothing to do with public interest or relevancy.S e e Articles describing

PissedConsumer???s use of ???black hat??? SEO practices and ???linkfarm schemes.???

Exhibit 5.

B.

Creating numerous subdomains that interlink between each other, also affecting

search engines??? evaluation of PissedConsumer???s ???relevancy.???I d.

C.

Making excessive use of brand name ???keywords??? in website text, metadata and

subdomains, in a manner that causes PissedConsumer???s webpages to appear more

relevant to searches for those brand names even though it is unrelated.I d.

D.

Reposting the same ???consumer complaints??? repeatedly on multiple websites so

that the complaints appear current and as new content, even when the complaints

are outdated and recycled.

E.

Creating Twitter accounts that simply post links to complaints at the

PissedConsumer website, linking to PissedConsumer.com but offering no other

content. For example, the Twitter accounts located at

www.twitter.com/pissedconsumera n d www.twitter.com/consumer_press

repeatedly repost links to alleged PissedConsumer customer complaints regarding

Ascentive and its products, even where those alleged complaints are outdated and

were posted more than a year ago. This causes consumers and search engines to

perceive posted ???complaints??? about Ascentive as more current and numerous than

they actually are. It also increases PissedConsumer???s prominence on search

engines such as Google

.

54.

Upon information and belief, PissedConsumer repeatedly reposts the same

???complaints??? about Ascentive and its products on PissedConsumer???s website, through

PissedConsumer???s Twitter accounts, and through other websites, falsely indicating that the

complaints are recent and current, to increase the negative impact of the complaints on Ascentive

and to increase the Google ranking of PissedConsumer???s website relative to Ascentive???s

websites.

55.

PissedConsumer???s recorded website traffic dropped drastically in 2009, after

reports surfaced on the internet that PissedConsumer was employing deceptive or ???black hat???

SEO practices and a Google representative responded to those reports.S e e Ex. 1 (Information

re: PissedConsumer.com showing plummeting website traffic) and Ex. 5 (online articles re:

Google???s response). Upon information and belief, Google temporarily blocked PissedConsumer.com from its search listings.I d. PissedConsumer???s websites, however, have again rose to prominence in Google???s rankings.I d.

D.

PissedConsumer???s Extortion and Commercial Bribery

56.

Around June 2010, false and outdated ???complaints??? about Ascentive on

PissedConsumer???s website were brought to Ascentive???s attention. Ascentive became very

concerned about the impact these postings are having on Ascentive???s sales and reputation.

57.

Ascentive???s Director of Marketing Ian Singer noticed the link to ???Reputation

Management??? on the pages Ascentive.PissedConsumer.com and

FinallyFast.PissedConsumer.com. PissedConsumer???s website states: ???In an effort to assist

companies and individuals with their online reputation, Pissed Consumer is offering premium

reputation management services. Our services allow you to tell your side of the story and address

the complaints received from consumers.??? Ex. 2.

58.

The website invited Ascentive to contact PissedConsumer for a ???custom quote???

for its ???reputation management services.??? Ex. 2.

59.

Ian Singer contacted PissedConsumer as instructed and was put in touch with

Michael Podolsky, chief executive officer of Opinion Corp., on or about June 10, 2010.

60.

Mr. Podolsky and Mr. Singer had subsequent conference calls on or about June

15, 2010, and June 17, 2010, in which Mr. Podolsky made representations regarding what

services PissedConsumer would provide to Ascentive in exchange for certain sums.

61.

Mr. Podolsky represented during these calls that PissedConsumer would remove

negative complaints in exchange for payment and Ascentive???s participation in its ???reputation

management program.???

62.

PissedConsumer demanded that Ascentive sign a ???non-disclosure agreement???

before PissedConsumer would provide Ascentive with the details and price of its ???reputation

management program.???

63.

To uncover PissedConsumer???s unlawful scheme, Ascentive???s CEO, Adam Schran,

and Michael Podolsky signed the non-disclosure agreement.

64.

Mr. Podolsky then forwarded to Ascentive on or about June 21, 2010,

documentation including PissedConsumer???s ???Service Offering???.

65.

PissedConsumer represented that it would provide the following services to

Ascentive in exchange for substantial sums:

A.

PissedConsumer would change the display of existing negative complaints

on its website so that the text of the complaints would be hidden from website visitors.

B.

PissedConsumer would notify Ascentive of any future complaints

consumers attempt to post on its website to give Ascentive an opportunity to resolve

those complaints before the complaints would be published on the website, or disable

the commenting functionality on Ascentive???s webpages, which would prevent consumers

from posting new complaints.

C.

PissedConsumer would collect information about users posting complaints

??? including contact information ??? and provide that information to Ascentive. If the user

attempting to post the complaint was not willing to provide his or her contact information

to Ascentive, PissedConsumer would deem that user???s comment ???inappropriate??? and

prohibit the user from posting the complaint on the website.

D.

PissedConsumer would remove and recategorize negative complaints.

E.

PissedConsumer would work in cooperation with Ascentive to address any

additional suggestions by Ascentive on how complaints could be handled and what

additional services PissedConsumer could provide (for a fee).

66.

PissedConsumer explained to Ascentive that PissedConsumer deems complaints

???inappropriate,??? blocks complaints, recategorizes complaints, removes complaints, hides

complaints, and prevents consumers from posting complaints on its website.

13

67.

PissedConsumer explicitly acknowledged that existing comments about Ascentive

on its website are negative and adversely affect Ascentive???s brand image and consumers??? first

impression.

68.

PissedConsumer claimed that Ascentive???s participation in PissedConsumer???s

Reputation Management program would turn negative reviews on PissedConsumer???s website

into positive ones.

69.

PissedConsumer represented that negative reviews would be removed, hidden or

minimized so that its website would highlight positive content over negative content in exchange

for substantial sums.

70.

PissedConsumer made clear to Ascentive that absent these payments and

Ascentive???s participation in its ???reputation management program,??? the negative content posted at

PissedConsumer.com would not be removed and these changes would not be made.

71.

PissedConsumer threatened Ascentive that negative content about Ascentive and

its products would continue to be prominently displayed to consumers, absent payment by

Ascentive to PissedConsumer. The display of this negative content is threatened to continue into

the future absent payment.

72.

Upon information and belief, PissedConsumer has similarly threatened and

continues to threaten other companies in positions similar to Ascentive, as other companies???

???subdomains??? at PissedConsumer.com contain similar negative content and link to the same

???Reputation Management??? advertisement and ???price list??? by PissedConsumer.

73.

PissedConsumer???s extortionary threats are of indefinite duration and have become

a regular way that PissedConsumer conducts business.

74.

Upon information and belief, PissedConsumer has engaged in these business

practices with numerous companies similar to Ascentive since the launch of its website in 2007.

75.

Companies and consumers have posted commentary online describing

PissedConsumer???s conduct related to other companies as ???extortion??? and noting that

???complaints??? about companies participating in PissedConsumer???s ???reputation management

program??? have been suddenly removed from PissedConsumer???s website. Ex. 5.

76.

One commentator on PissedConsumer???s website states: ???It [is] pretty strange how

all of a sudden most of the complaints against Davison Inventegration posted by ???Ex Employees???

seemed to have been pulled from Pissed Consumer???s website. Hmmm. From what I hear this is

the same thing Davidson did with Rip Off Report. Paid them off so they pulled the postings that

did the most damages and most likely had the most credibility???I am disappointed at Pissed

Consumer.???S e e Exhibit 6.

F.

Ascentive???s Unsuccessful Attempts to Resolve This Dispute with PissedConsumer

77.

Ascentive contacted PissedConsumer through counsel on July 27, 2010,

describing its potential claims and requesting that the webpages Ascentive.PissedConsumer.com

and FinallyFast.PissedConsumer.com be removed.

78.

On August 17, 2010, PissedConsumer briefly responded that it believed

Ascentive???s claims had no merit and threatened to seek Rule 11 sanctions against Ascentive if a

complaint was filed. PissedConsumer claimed that it never removes negative consumer

complaints, which directly contradicted its prior statements to Ascentive.

79.

Ascentive responded further explaining its position on August 24, 2010,

requesting a response by August 31, 2010

80.

PissedConsumer failed to respond and Ascentive has proceeded with the filing of

this complaint.

FIRST CLAIM FOR RELIEF

VIOLATION OF 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(c) ??? CIVIL RICO

81.

Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

82.

Defendants Opinion Corp., Mr. Podolsky, Ms. Simpson and Mr. Syrov are

???persons??? as defined under 18 U.S.C. ?? 1961(3) and 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(c).

83.

At all relevant times, Defendants were employed by and/or affiliated with the

entity or association of persons and entities operating and supporting the operation of the website

PissedConsumer.com (the ???PissedConsumer Enterprise???).

84.

The PissedConsumer Enterprise was conducted through the unlawful actions of

Defendants, other PissedConsumer agents and/or employees, including PissedConsumer???s legal

counsel, the search engine(s) listing PissedConsumer???s website, the advertisers on

PissedConsumer???s website, and other persons and entities.

85.

The PissedConsumer Enterprise constitutes an ???enterprise??? or ???association in fact

enterprise??? within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. ???? 1961(4) and 1962(c), that furthers the

Defendants??? common purpose of committing acts of commercial bribery and extortion.

86.

Opinion Corp. and the PissedConsumer Enterprise are used to sell goods and

services in interstate commerce and are engaged in activities that affected interstate commerce.

87.

Defendants were and are employed by and/or associated with Opinion Corp. and

the PissedConsumer Enterprise. They have control over Opinion Corp. and the PissedConsumer

Enterprise such that they conduct and participate in the conduct, either directly or indirectly, of

the operation and management of Opinion Corp. and the PissedConsumer Enterprise.

88.

Defendants own, operate and/or control the website located at

PissedConsumer.com and numerous other domains affiliated with the PissedConsumer.com

domain and used to increase the search engine ranking of PissedConsumer.com.

89.

Defendants engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity consisting of at least two

predicate acts of racketeering by each Defendant. Defendants operate the PissedConsumer

website through their ongoing conduct and Defendants??? predicate acts of racketeering are part of

Defendants??? regular way of doing business.

90.

Upon information and belief, Defendants have operated the PissedConsumer.com

website in connection with a scheme and conspiracy to extort and solicit money from the victims

of the website (described by PissedConsumer as its ???reputation management program???) since

2007. Defendants committed the described acts of racketeering continuously since 2007.

91.

Defendants took the actions that constitute a pattern of racketeering activity for

the same purpose ??? to extract money from the victims of the scheme (the companies that are the

victims of ???complaints??? posted at PissedConsumer.com) through commercial bribery and

extortion.

92.

As the victims, participants and methods of commission that comprised

Defendants??? pattern of racketeering were the same or similar, these acts of racketeering

constitute a continuous and related pattern or racketeering as defined in 18 U.S.C. 1961(1) and

(5).

93.

Defendants advertised, solicited clients, conducted substantial amounts of

business and committed acts of commercial bribery and extortion in the Commonwealth of

Pennsylvania, where Ascentive is located, and in other states

94.

Defendants??? acts constituting ???racketeering activity??? under 18 U.S.C. 1961 (1)

included acts and threats involving bribery and extortion punishable and chargeable by

imprisonment for more than one year under Pennsylvania and federal law.

A.

Predicate Acts of Commercial Bribery

95.

Pennsylvania has criminalized commercial bribery under 18 Pa. C.S. ?? 4108(b),

which states:

A person who holds himself out to the public as being engaged in

the business of making disinterested selection, appraisal or

criticism of commodities or services commits a misdemeanor of

the second degree if he solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any

benefit to influence his selection, appraisal or criticism.

96.

Defendants committed acts of commercial bribery in violation of 18 Pa. C.S. ??

4108(b). These acts constituted ???a pattern of racketeering activity??? under the RICO statute, as

defined and explained above.

97.

PissedConsumer holds itself out to the public as being engaged in the business of

making disinterested selection, appraisal and criticism of commodities and services, describing

itself as a disinterested website dedicated to allowing consumers to vent their aggravations and

consumer experiences and a ???premier consumer advocacy group.??? PissedConsumer, however,

fails to disclose that it solicits and accepts benefits from companies such as Ascentive to

influence that selection, appraisal and criticism.

98.

Defendants knowingly assisted each other and each others??? acts of commercial

bribery in conducting the PissedConsumer Enterprise.

99.

Defendant Podolsky and his company Opinion Corp. committed acts of

commercial bribery, including but not limited to: (1) contacting Ascentive multiple times to

solicit benefits in exchange for influencing PissedConsumer???s website content; (2) creating and

approving press releases advertising PissedConsumer to the public as being engaged in the

business of making disinterested selection, appraisal and criticism of commodities and services;

(3) creating, controlling and approving website content that gives an appearance of being

distinterested but also furthers Defendants??? solicitation and commercial bribery; (4) encouraging,

controlling and approving negative website content to solicit Ascentive???s and other companies???

payments to PissedConsumer; (4) using improper SEO tactics, other websites and accounts, and

Ascentive???s trademarks for the same purposes; and (5) requiring that a non-disclosure agreement

be signed to maintain PissedConsumer???s public image of disinterestedness and signing the

agreement.

100. Defendant Simpson committed acts of commercial bribery, including but not

limited to: (1) creating and drafting multiple press releases advertising PissedConsumer to the

public as being engaged in the business of making disinterested selection, appraisal and criticism

of commodities and services; (2) controlling Opinion Corp.???s Twitter accounts to recycle and

repost negative content regarding Ascentive and other companies, to further solicit and

encourage payments to PissedConsumer; and (3) creating, controlling and approving website

content that gives an appearance of being distinterested but also furthers Defendants??? solicitation

and commercial bribery of Ascentive and other companies.

101. Upon information and belief, defendant Syrov committed acts of commercial

bribery, including but not limited to encouraging, creating, and controlling negative website

content and using Ascentive???s trademarks in metadata to solicit payments from Ascentive and

other companies through commercial bribery.

B.

Predicate Acts of Extortion

102. Defendants??? acts also constitute extortion in violation of the Hobbs Act, 18 U.S.C.

1951, which states

Whoever in anyway or degree obstructs, delays, or affects

commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in

commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempts or conspires so to

do, or commits or threatens physical violence to any person or

property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do anything in

violation of this section shall be fined under this title or imprisoned

not more than twenty years, or both.

103. ???Extortion??? means ???the obtaining of property from another, with his consent,

induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official

right.???I d. ???Fear??? includes threatened fear of economic loss.

104. Defendants conspired to extort, extorted, and attempted to extort money from

Ascentive in violation of the Hobbs Act. These acts also constituted ???a pattern of racketeering

activity??? under the RICO statute, as defined and explained above.

105. Defendant Podolsky and his company Opinion Corp. committed acts of extortion

and attempted extortion, including but not limited to: (1) threatening Ascentive on multiple

occasions with the fear of continuing economic loss resulting from PissedConsumer???s wrongful

conduct, in order to obtain money from Ascentive; (2) encouraging, controlling and approving

negative website content to cause ongoing economic loss to Ascentive and therefore increase the

chances of obtaining money from Ascentive; (3) continuously inviting ???victims??? of

PissedConsumer???s website to stop the economic loss caused by PissedConsumer by making

repeated and ongoing payments to PissedConsumer; and (4) requiring that a non-disclosure

agreement be signed to facilitate PissedConsumer???s extortion of Ascentive and other companies

and signing the agreement.

106. Upon information and belief, defendant Simpson committed acts of extortion and

attempted extortion, including but not limited to: (1) encouraging, controlling and approving

negative website content to cause and threaten economic loss to Ascentive and other companies,

in order to obtain money from Ascentive and others; and (2) continuously inviting ???victims??? o

PissedConsumer???s website to stop the economic loss caused by PissedConsumer by making

repeated and ongoing payments to PissedConsumer.

107. Upon information and belief, defendant Syrov committed acts of extortion and

attempted extortion, including but not limited to: (1) encouraging, controlling and approving

negative website content to cause and threaten economic loss to Ascentive and other companies,

in order to obtain money from Ascentive and others; and (2) continuously inviting ???victims??? of

PissedConsumer???s website to stop the economic loss caused by PissedConsumer by making

repeated and ongoing payments to PissedConsumer.

108. Defendants knowingly assisted each other and each others??? acts of extortion and

attempted extortion in conducting the PissedConsumer Enterprise.

C.

Direct Injuries to Ascentive

109. Ascentive has experienced and is experiencing ongoing economic losses in the

form of lost consumer sales and tarnishment to its reputation with consumers, due to Defendants???

conduct.

110. The ???complaints??? posted on PissedConsumer???s website falsely characterize

Ascentive???s software as actually harmful to consumers??? computers and a ???scam.???

111. Ascentive also was forced to engage in a series of negotiations with

PissedConsumer over time regarding Ascentive???s participation in PissedConsumer???s ???reputation

management program??? and the signing of a non-disclosure agreement. Ascentive was required

to spend employee time addressing these negotiations and to consult legal counsel in connection

with these discussions, all of which also resulted in further economic loss to Ascentive

112. Ascentive was one of the direct and intended victims of the PissedConsumer

Enterprise, Defendants??? pattern of racketeering, and Defendants??? violations of the Hobbs Act and

Pennsylvania???s commercial bribery statute.

113. As a direct result of the conduct described above, Ascentive lost valuable business

and property interests. Ascentive lost not only sales revenues as a result of the negative and

defamatory content posted at PissedConsumer.com, but also the time and money required to

respond to PissedConsumer???s threats.

114. PissedConsumer threatened that the negative and defamatory content posted at

PissedConsumer.com would only cease causing economic harm to Ascentive if Ascentive

participate in PissedConsumer???s ???reputation management program??? and gave in to

PissedConsumer???s demand that Ascentive pay PissedConsumer exorbitant sums.

115. Ascentive has been injured in its business and property by reason of the foregoing

violations of 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(c) in an amount to be determined at trial. By reason of the

foregoing acts, Ascentive is entitled to treble damages under the RICO statute, as well as other

relief which is necessary and proper, including reasonable attorneys??? fees and costs.

116. Moreover, Ascentive is currently suffering irreparable injury as a result of

Defendants??? continued operation of the PissedConsumer.com website. Ascentive???s remedy at

law is inadequate to compensate it for the damage currently being inflicted by Defendants???

operation of the subdomains FinallyFast.PissedConsumer.com and

Ascentive.PissedConsumer.com, and therefore Ascentive also requests that PissedConsumer???s

operation of those subdomains (and any other subdomains using Ascentive???s trademarks at

PissedConsumer.com) be preliminarily and permanently enjoined

SECOND CLAIM FOR RELIEF

VIOLATION OF 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(d) ??? RICO CONSPIRACY

117. Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

118. Defendants have conspired to violate 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(c) by agreeing to conduct

an enterprise affecting interstate commerce, directly or indirectly, through a pattern of

racketeering activity in violation of 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(d).

119. Ascentive has been injured in its business and property by reason of the foregoing

violations of 18 U.S.C. ?? 1962(d) in an amount to be determined at trial. By reason of the

foregoing acts, Ascentive is entitled to treble damages under the RICO statute, as well as other

relief which is necessary and proper, including reasonable attorneys??? fees and costs.

120. Moreover, Ascentive is currently suffering irreparable injury as a result of

Defendants??? continued operation of the PissedConsumer.com website. Ascentive???s remedy at

law is inadequate to compensate it for the damage currently being inflicted by Defendants???

operation of the subdomains FinallyFast.PissedConsumer.com and

Ascentive.PissedConsumer.com, and therefore Ascentive also requests that PissedConsumer???s

operation of those subdomains (and any other subdomains using Ascentive???s trademarks at

PissedConsumer.com) be preliminarily enjoined.

THIRD CLAIM FOR RELIEF

VIOLATIONS OF 15 U.S.C. ?? 1114 and 1125(a) - THE LANHAM ACT

121. Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

122. Ascentive???s trademarks are valid and distinctive federally registered trademarks

entitled to protection under the Lanham Act.

123. PissedConsumer uses Ascentive???s trademarks in commerce and in connection

with advertisements displayed on PissedConsumer???s website.

124. PissedConsumer profits from click-through fees generated by its display of third-

party advertisements and its use of Ascentive???s trademarks at Ascentive.PissedConsumer.com

and FinallyFast.PissedConsumer.com.

125. Ascentive did not consent directly or indirectly to PissedConsumer???s use of

Ascentive???s trademarks in any manner and Ascentive expressed its strong written objection to

PissedConsumer???s unauthorized use of Ascentive???s trademarks.

126. PissedConsumer???s unauthorized and willful use of Ascentive???s trademarks in

connection with the display of third-party advertisements, including advertisements for the

products of Ascentive???s competitors, constitutes a use in commerce that infringes Ascentive???s

exclusive rights in its federally registered marks and is likely to cause confusion, mistake or

deception as to the source of the goods and services offered.

127. Such actions are also likely to cause confusion as to whether Ascentive is

sponsoring, has authorized or is somehow affiliated with the products advertised.

128. Consumers are likely to be initially confused into believing that clicking on

advertisements displayed on PissedConsumer???s website will lead to Ascentive???s websites and

Ascentive???s computer software. Ascentive???s products and the products offered on the third-party

websites are related, as are the trade channels and purchasers for such products.

129. Even after accessing the websites advertised at PissedConsumer.com, consumers

are likely to be confused into believing that those websites and any software they contain are

associated with, sponsored by, developed by, or otherwise affiliated with Ascentive

130. PissedConsumer???s unauthorized and willful use of Ascentive???s registered

trademarks constitutes trademark infringement, unfair competition and false designation of

origin in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. ?? 1114 and 1125(a).

131. Ascentive has been injured in its business and property by reason of the foregoing

Lanham Act violations in an amount to be determined at trial.

132. Moreover, Ascentive is currently suffering irreparable injury as a result of

Defendants??? continued use of Ascentive???s trademarks in connection with the

PissedConsumer.com website. PissedConsumer's infringement, unfair competition, and false

designation of origin has caused and, unless restrained by this Court, will continue to cause

Ascentive irreparable injury.

133. Ascentive???s remedy at law is inadequate to compensate it for the damage

currently being inflicted by Defendants??? operation of the subdomains

FinallyFast.PissedConsumer.com and Ascentive.PissedConsumer.com, and therefore Ascentive

also requests that PissedConsumer???s operation of those subdomains (and any other subdomains

using Ascentive???s trademarks at PissedConsumer.com) be preliminarily and permanently

enjoined.

FOURTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

COMMON LAW TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT, UNFAIR COMPETITION AND

FALSE DESIGNATION OF ORIGIN

134. Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

135. Ascentive owns protected and/or protectable common law trademark rights in its

distinct and valuable marks.

136. Ascentive uses its trademarks in commerce and in conjunction with its legitimate

business operations.

137. PissedConsumer???s unlawful and willful conduct is likely to create confusion

concerning the origin of the goods or services advertised, and constitutes trademark

infringement, unfair competition and false designation of origin in violation of Ascentive???s

trademark rights at common law.

138. PissedConsumer???s common law trademark violations have directly and

proximately caused and continue to cause injury and damage to Ascentive by, among other

things, causing Ascentive to lose control of its business reputation, causing confusion, diverting

customers, sales, and otherwise causing significant commercial loss.

139. As a result of PissedConsumer???s actions, Ascentive has suffered, and will

continue to suffer, irreparable harm and Ascentive has no adequate remedy at law.

140. PissedConsumer's violations of law have damaged Ascentive in an amount to be

determined at trial.

141. Ascentive requests that PissedConsumer???s operation of subdomains containing

and using Ascentive???s trademarks at PissedConsumer.com be preliminarily and permanently

enjoined.

FIFTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

VIOLATIONS OF 73 P.S.?? 201-2 - PENNSYLVANIA UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICES

AND CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW

142. Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

143. Defendants advertise, solicit clients, and conduct substantial amounts of business

in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, where Ascentive is located.

26

144. As described above, Defendants??? conduct violates Pennsylvania???s Unfair Trade

Practices and Consumer Protection Law (the ???UTPCPL???), which prohibits ???unfair methods of

competition??? and ???unfair or deceptive acts and practices.???

145. Defendants willfully used methods declared unlawful by the UTPCPL, including

but not limited to:

A.

Falsely passing off goods and services advertised on the PissedConsumer.com

website as those of Ascentive???s;

B.

Causing likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the source,

sponsorship, approval, affiliation or certification of goods and services advertised on the

PissedConsumer.com website;

C.

Using deceptive representations in connection with the goods and services

advertised on PissedConsumer.com website and with Ascentive???s goods and services;

D.

Representing that Ascentive???s goods or services, and goods and services

advertised at PissedConsumer.com, have sponsorship, approval, characteristics,

ingredients, uses, benefits or quantities that they do not have; and

E.

Disparaging the goods, services and business of Ascentive by false or misleading

representations of fact.

146. Ascentive was damaged as a direct result of Defendants??? violations of the

UTPCPL.

147. Ascentive continues to suffer irreparable harm as a result of Defendants??? conduct.

148. Ascentive requests that PissedConsumer???s operation of subdomains containing

and using Ascentive???s trademarks at PissedConsumer.com be preliminarily and permanently

enjoined.

27

SIXTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

INTERFERENCE WITH CONTRACTUAL

AND PROSPECTIVE CONTRACTUAL RELATIONS

149. Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

150. Ascentive derives much of its revenues from the online sales of its computer

software products to potential consumers.

151. Ascentive has contractual and prospective contractual relationships with the

internet users that search for Ascentive???s brand names on search engines, view the prominent

display of PissedConsumer???s website in the search listings, and/or visit the PissedConsumer.com

website.

152. PissedConsumer???s conduct in tortiously interfering with Ascentive???s contractual

and prospective contractual relationships with these consumers has been wrongful, intentional

and criminal, as described above. There is no privilege or justification for PissedConsumer???s

conduct.

153. As a result of PissedConsumer???s trademark infringement, false advertising and

unfair competition, these consumers are confused into visiting the websites of Ascentive???s

competitors when searching for Ascentive???s products by brand name.

154. As a result of PissedConsumer???s criminal conduct, including commercial bribery

and extortion, the consumers are also exposed repeatedly to false, defamatory, negative and

outdated ???complaints??? about Ascentive posted on the PissedConsumer.com website.

155. As a result of PissedConsumer???s conduct, Ascentive has been, and absent

injunctive relief will continue to be, irreparably harmed by PissedConsumer???s actions.

156. Ascentive has no adequate remedy at law for the foregoing wrongful conduct.

28

157. PissedConsumer's intentional interference with prospective contractual relations

has damaged Ascentive in an amount to be determined at trial.

158. Ascentive requests that PissedConsumer???s operation of subdomains containing

and using Ascentive???s trademarks at PissedConsumer.com be preliminarily and permanently

enjoined.

SEVENTH CLAIM FOR RELIEF

UNJUST ENRICHMENT

159. Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

160. Ascentive has a right to recover from PissedConsumer based on

PissedConsumer???s unjust enrichment resulting from the actions of PissedConsumer described

above.

161. PissedConsumer has knowingly benefited from its use of Ascentive???s trademarks

in conjunction with its advertising programs and has retained the benefits of its use of

Ascentive???s trademarks, which use is in violation of Ascentive???s rights and causes harm to

Ascentive, as set forth above.

162. PissedConsumer used Ascentive???s trademarks to improve the prominence of its

website in search engine listings (for example, its ???Google ranking???), to increase consumer

traffic to its website, and to profit from that consumer traffic.

163. Under these circumstances, as set forth in the complaint, it would be unjust for

PissedConsumer.com to retain the benefits conferred upon it by its use of Ascentive???s trademarks

without payment to Ascentive.

EIGHTH CAUSE OF ACTION

DECLARATORY JUDGMENT AS TO NON-DISCLOSURE AGREEMENT

164. Ascentive incorporates by reference each and every allegation of the paragraphs

above.

165. Defendants??? actions have given rise to an actual and justiciable controversy

pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 2201 et seq.

166. Ascentive requests a declaration that the non-disclosure agreement it signed its

void ab initio.

167. As described above, the agreement was for an illegal purpose, and as such, void

as a matter of public policy.

168. In the alternative, the agreement is otherwise unenforceable.

169. The agreement lacks consideration and is unconscionable.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, plaintiff Ascentive, LLC, asks for an order and judgment against

defendants Opinion Corp. d/b/a PissedConsumer.com, Michael Podolsky, Joanna Clark Simpson

and Alex Syrov:

a.

Awarding Ascentive preliminary and permanent injunctive relief enjoining

Opinion Corp. and its officers, partners, agents, subcontractors, servants, employees, subsidiaries

and related companies or entities, and all others acting in concert with it, from using Ascentive???s

trademarks or terms confusingly similar to them in commerce and in connection with the

PissedConsumer.com website;

b.

Awarding Ascentive actual, compensatory and punitive damages to the full extent

allowed by law;

c.

Awarding Ascentive costs and attorneys??? fees to the full extent provided for by

Section 35 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. ?? 1117 and the RICO statute, 18 U.S.C. ?? 1964.

c.

Awarding Ascentive actual and trebled damages to the full extent provided by 15

U.S.C. ?? 1117 and 18 U.S.C. ?? 1964, in an amount to be determined at trial.

e.

Granting such other relief as this Court deems just and equitable.

JURY TRIAL DEMANDED

Plaintiff Ascentive, LLC, requests a jury trial on all claims.

Respectfully submitted,

Dated: September 24, 2010

/s/ Darren H. Goldstein, Esquire

Darren H. Goldstein, Esquire

N.Y. I.D. No. 1978501

and

(pro hac vice to be sought)

Abbe F. Fletman, Esquire

Jordan A. LaVine, Esquire

Alexis Arena, Esquire

FLASTER/GREENBERG P.C.

1600 JFK Blvd., 2nd Floor

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(215) 279-9393 (phone)

(267) 299-6865 (fax)

Attorneys for plaintiff Ascentive, LLC


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