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Enigma Software sues BleepingComputer for alleged 'smear campaign'

Enigma Software, the company behind the SpyHunter security program, is suing tech reviews site BleepingComputer over negative comments it made about its software and what it calls a smear campaign to disparage the company in favor of affiliates.

The post in question is on the site’s forum, which was published in 2014, and carries a number of negative remarks made against SpyHunter including accusations of deceptive pricing. Enigma Software, or ESG, says these remarks are disparaging and false. In its court papers, the company says it is bringing this “smear campaign” to an end.

“Bleeping not only has unlawfully benefited from its smear campaign to the detriment of ESG, it has damaged the reputation of ESG by refusing to take down its false and misleading statements which have been reposted numerous times on other anti-spyware related forums and websites,” said the company.

It also takes umbrage with BleepingComputer’s affiliate program, which it says encourages the site to drive traffic to these particular companies. Malwarebytes, a competitor of Enigma, is named as one of these affiliates.

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“To further that interest, Bleeping has intentionally disparaged ESG and its products while simultaneously recommending that its “novice” forum members use Malwarebytes programs for which it admittedly is paid a commission,” said the filing. Enigma adds that it has not participated in a commission program like this with BleepingComputer.

In a follow up statement released last Friday Enigma Software defended its decision to take legal action. “ESG filed suit against BleepingComputer because BleepingComputer is misleading the public and harming fair competition in the marketplace,” said ESG spokesperson Ryan Gerding. “The company wrote to BleepingComputer before filing suit and asked them to stop, but they refused.”

He clarified that the case in question is not about a review, adding that site is free to write negative things fairly if it chooses. “What [BleepingComputer] are not free to do is pretend they are providing unbiased reviews in order to drive sales of products where they get commissions,” he said.

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Enigma Software declined requests for further comment in regards to this statement and legal case. Another spokesperson told Digital Trends that it will not be commenting any further during the legal proceedings.

BleepingComputer has since turned to its readers for financial help in fighting the case. The site said it anticipates the legal process will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and is asking for donations.

“If BleepingComputer does not get the help we need and we lose this battle, it will only embolden Enigma Software to try to silence other bloggers, IT technicians, or computer security enthusiasts,” it posted.

The aforementioned Malwarebytes is supporting the site in its defense and its CEO Marcin Kleczynski has donated $5,000.