Life Insurance Company Sues Twitter Imposter
Coventry First is suing an anonymous critic who posted fake tweets, making the company appear to cheer for the death of policyholders. The Fort Washington, Pa.-based secondary life insurance firm filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Philadelphia federal court, accusing the critic of unfair competition and trademark infringement.
Anonymous Critic Sends Damaging Tweets
Coventry First, which is considered a leading player in the secondary life insurance market–a market in which investors pay individuals for the right to collect on their policies–says the anonymous critic has set up the Twitter account @coventryfirst and is breaking the law by sending damaging tweets.
The tweets consist of messages like “horrible weekend … no plane crashes” and “natural disasters are good for business!” implying that the company takes pleasure in the deaths of policyholders.
The secondary life insurance (also known as life settlement) market has come under fire in recent years because of the very nature of the market–profiting on the death of another person.
The anonymous critic is jumping in on the debate with its implications that the company is not only profiting on the deaths of the policyholders it buys from, but is actually looking forward to their deaths.
Coventry Seeks Monetary Damages
The life insurer has sought a court order for monetary damages as well as the destruction of the Twitter page. In addition, the company has issued a subpoena asking Twitter to reveal the identity of the account holder.
However, the chances of shutting down the account appear uncertain due to courts’ obligations to balance overall free speech values against the rights of brand owners in trademark law.
In this case, the fact that the account was not used for commercial purposes could hinder the company’s ability to prove an infringement has occurred.
Also, the company would be responsible for proving that the fake account led to confusion in the mind of consumers–that is, consumers assumed the fake account really belonged to the insurer–which could prove difficult.