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M&P Successfully Defends Client Against Commercial Disparagement Claim Before SJC

Hipsaver v. Kiel, 464 Mass. 517 (2013) establishes important new precedent governing commercial disparagement claims. Bob Powers successfully defended Dr. Douglas Kiel against a disparagement claim based upon his peer reviewed medical research. The March 13th decision of the Supreme Judicial Court establishes a framework for analyzing a claim of commercial disparagement. The case sets important boundaries protecting the rights of researchers and scientists to design and conduct innovative research studies, and affording protection against vexatious litigation. The SJC agreed that researchers should be able to freely publish the accurate results of studies conducted in good faith. The Court observed: “[t]he hallmarks of scientific research are continuous inquiry, testing, debate, disagreement and revision.” Research, discussion and uninhibited debate, not lawsuits, “mark the path toward superior understanding of the world around us.”