David Whitinger, former owner of Davesgarden.com, sues Internet Brands for defamation

David Whitinger
David Whitinger

This came to me in a kind of round about way. Back on May 29, I started noticing incoming links to this post about Tyler’s suit against Internet Brands. I was receiving a lot of incoming links from DavesGarden.com. This got me curious because Dave’s Garden is a forum for gardeners. Why in the world would I be getting incoming links from them to a post about Internet Brands? Then I noticed at the bottom that Dave’s Garden is owned by Internet Brands. After a bit of digging, I found out why there was so much interested. It appears IB is in another legal dispute with the founder  of DavesGarden.com. The original thread on cubits.org was removed so here’s the archive of the thread (PDF). On June 2, 2010, David Whitinger filed a lawsuit against Internet Brands.  I’ll let the complaint tell the story. Keep in mind this is just the complaint from the plaintiff’s side and they are merely allegations. My comments are in bold italics.

8. Plaintiff founded and built the website, davesgarden.com, which quickly grew into one of the web’s most popular sites for gardening advice and information. Davesgarden.com is an interactive site in which users create an account to access information, and add content, to the website. Users may pay an annual subscription to access certain portions of the website. There’s actually a security flaw that allows anyone to read some subscription portions of the site if they know what to look for.

9. In 2006, Plaintiff sold davesgarden.com to Media Community, L.L.C. As part of that transaction, Plaintiff entered into an employment agreement with NameMedia, Inc. (“NameMedia”), which included in part a non-compete agreement (“the non—compete agreement”). Several years later, NameMedia sold davesgarden.com to Internet Brands.

10. In 2010, Plaintiff started a new website, cubits.org, Cubits.org provides a forum for various communities of individuals with specific interests, such as health and fitness, pets, and photography. Site members can post and share information and links related to their specific interests.

11. On or about May 25, 2010, Plaintiff received a cease and desist letter from Internet Brands, demanding that he immediately take down the cubits.org website. Internet Brands alleged in the cease and desist letter that its purchase of davesgarden.com from NameMedia meant that Plaintiffs obligations under the non-compete now belong to Internet Brands. To date, however, despite repeated requests, Internet Brands has failed to produce evidence that its purchase of davesgarden.com from NameMedia included the non-compete agreement.