Company threatens journalists over fake Intel CPU reports

On Friday, two sites reported that online e-tailer Newegg seemed to be inadvertently shipping out counterfeit Intel CPUs to punters. A storm of letters from my learned fiends has ensued.

HardOCP reported that one of its forum members, a Vincent Waller from Oregon, had had the misfortune of unboxing his Core i7-920 only to discover it was a rather horrid fake. Waller took pictures and posted them on the forum. HardOCP reposted the photos in an article.

From the outside, the box looked completely legitimate, it was only when Waller got to the inside that, he said,  things started to look fishy. It even contained a booklet of blank pages loosely stapled together to pass as the instruction manual. So someone went to remarkable efforts here.

HardOCP also reported that another source told its reporter that “300 counterfeit processors were purchased by Newegg”. Fakes were delivered last week in a shipment totalling 2,000 pieces, it reported.

HardOCP also said its source said that Newegg had now “discovered” all 300 counterfeit processors.

Tech community site, Icrontic, picked up the HardOCP story and noted that Newegg had shipped replacements for the fake CPUs quickly to affected customers and that both the e-tailer and Intel were in the process of investigating where the chips came from.

A company called D&H Distributing doesn’t consider it legitimate for the free press took umbrage to this. In fact, the legal beagles over at D&H Distributing got so worked up over the horrifying gall and chutzpah of Icrontic and HardOCP for daring to ask a question that the company slapped both publications with a “cease and desist” order.

Sent by the lawyers representing D&H, Creim Macias Koenig & Frey, it reads in part:

“It has recently been brought to our attention that you are responsible for publishing on the internet, and specifically on your websites, untrue  statements  respecting allegedly counterfeit Intel Core i7 processors which you allege were sold to Newegg by D&H. 

“This letter places you on notice that these statements are false.  You have no basis for publishing these false and malicious statements about D & H.  These false allegations are defamatory and disparaging to D&H”s business and business relations and have caused grave and irreparable damage to our client.”

At this point, we feel compelled to point out that neither publication “stated” anything, both simply reported what they had been told by their sources, and asked a legitimate question. In public. Which the media does from time to time.

D&H, however,threw its toys out of its pram, demanding that both sites “IMMEDIATELY (i) cease and desist posting such defamatory material about D&H.; (ii) remove the contact and any reference to D&H from your website; and, (iii) post an immediate retraction and apology which shall remain posted for not less than thirty days.

Er, anything else? Would you like a hug to go with that? Or a journalistic promise never to quote sources or investigate legitimate problems ever again?

The letter comes with an “or else” too.

“If you fail to do so by 5 p.m., pst., on March 6, 2010, D&H will pursue all of its rights and remedies, including, without limitation, an action for libel, will seek full recovery for the damages caused by your untrue statements including punitive damages, as well as seek injunctive relief.”

Injunctive relief, eh? Sounds like something a few senna pods in Mssrs. Creim Macias Koenig & Frey’s tea could sort out. 

Well, Brian Ambrozy, editor of Icrontic shouldn’t be overly worried. Mostly because the lawyers couldn’t even spell his name correctly on the threatening C&D letter.