Gator’s Lawsuit

So why is there a Gator Information Center anyway? Why did we single out Gator for a special section? In a way, you could say that Gator almost demanded that we single them out because they didn’t like the group they were in.

In early September, Gator’s legal counsel contacted PC Pitstop, indicating the site must immediately “cease and desist its misleading and defamatory statements regarding Gator’s products.” We asked them to point out the areas of the site and specific statements that they believed were misleading or defamatory so that we could discuss these issues and fix anything we determined was factually incorrect. Instead, on September 11, 2003, Gator filed lawsuit C03-04167RS in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California. The suit alleged we had committed “false advertising, unfair business practices, trade libel, defamation, and tortious interference.”

Although we believed that we had not done anything wrong, the lawsuit posed a dilemma. Gator’s business model has precipitated numerous lawsuits over the past few years; they aggressively use litigation to further their business. PC Pitstop’s business model is about helping people find and fix problems with their PCs. If we could reach a settlement with Gator that allowed us to continue doing that, it would eliminate the costs and distraction of a drawn-out lawsuit. That is the course we took.

Leaving the Wrong Impression

Several weeks after resolving the lawsuit, a reporter from CNet contacted me for comment on an article about Gator, and the PC Pitstop lawsuit in particular. Since the terms of the settlement were confidential, I simply affirmed that the suit had been filed and subsequently settled, and that PC Pitstop still detected and recommended the removal of Gator applications.

When the CNet article was published, I was very dismayed to see the comments by Gator about the lawsuit. Gator advised the reporter to “go to their new site and draw your own conclusions” about the changes we had made to comply with the agreement. In reality, only a few of the changes to the PC Pitstop site at that time were a direct result of issues in contention during the settlement. Gator had given the public impression that the settlement was much more restrictive than it actually is. We had the Gator Information Center in development even then; if you look through this section you will find pages implied to have been removed as part of the settlement.

What was the lawsuit about, then? Does it prevent PC Pitstop from talking about Gator? Since the settlement is confidential, I can’t go into details. However, taking a cue from Gator’s comment in the CNet article, we invite you to “go to our new site and draw your own conclusions.”

Striving for Accuracy

I have been a computer journalist since 1986, serving as Executive Editor at PC Tech Journal and Windows Magazine. I have co-authored several computer books and written hundreds of articles for both web sites and print publications such as PC Magazine. With the information published on the PC Pitstop site, I strive for the same accuracy as I have for all of my career.

Given Gator’s reputation, it’s sometimes difficult for users and journalists alike to get past the company’s bad karma and deal with the objective information about Gator’s practices and products. I believe we have resisted the temptation to just pile on the vitriol. Instead, we have tried to offer a great deal of research and fact-based opinion in this section. Ultimately, though, it isn’t my opinion that counts, but yours.

Our standing offer: If anyone–but especially Gator–finds false or inaccurate information anywhere on the PC Pitstop site, contact us and point out the specific page and passage that you believe is incorrect. If we agree, we will make a correction–no litigation required.

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