Façonnable sues over Web posts linking it to Hezbollah


Façonnable, a high-end retailer of $200 shirts and $55 boxer shorts, has taken off the cuff links in a fight with anonymous Internet users who wrote what the company says are false statements on its Wikipedia page.

In a lawsuit filed last week in federal court in Denver, Façonnable says the users edited the company’s Wikipedia page in March to suggest that the company supports Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militia group that the United States has designated as a terrorist organization. Façonnable says that is untrue.

“Repeated publication of the defamatory statements on Wikipedia are causing, and will continue to cause, damage to the Façonnable brand,” the lawsuit states.

The Internet users are currently named in the suit as John Does, and Façonnable (pronounced “fa-so-NAH-bluh”) says in its complaint that part of the reason for filing the suit is to learn who they are.

The complaint was filed in Denver because Façonnable traced the Wiki-hackers’ computer addresses back to Skybeam Inc., a Berthoud-based Internet service provider.

An effort by Façonnable to get the names directly from Skybeam was met with a terse reply.

“Information like this would need to be requested through a summons delivered by a local law enforcement agency,” Skybeam wrote to an official from Façonnable’s parent company, according to an exhibit attached to the lawsuit.

Façonnable first noticed the Wikipedia changes in March, when someone edited the company’s entry to warn customers about the supposed Hezbollah link. Façonnable changed the entry back, only to see the information reposted, the company says in the lawsuit. The entry currently has a note that states: “The neutrality of this section is disputed.”

Façonnable is owned by the M1 Group, a Lebanese conglomerate. The M1 Group was co-founded by Najib Mikati, a billionaire and politician who was recently made prime minister of Lebanon.

Mikati had the support of Hezbollah, a significant political force in Lebanon, in his election. But in numerous interviews with Western media outlets, Mikati has described himself as a centrist who is not a part of or beholden to the organization.

Representatives at Façonnable’s office in New York did not return a phone call Friday.