Yoda firm fined £369,000 for libelling digital rival
A Star Wars-themed marketing firm has been fined hundreds of thousands of pounds for trying to steal its rival's customers.
Your Online Digital Agency Ltd (Yoda), based in London's Limeharbour, was fined £369,273 for the losses suffered by competitor ReachLocal UK.
A campaign by Yoda, also the name of a Star Wars character, said it had spotted a "dark side" in its rival.
The allegation was "cynical and hypocritical", said a High Court judge.
ReachLocal claimed the Yoda campaign launched earlier this year comprised "a mass dissemination of emails and telephone calls" that resulted in substantial losses.
Some of the emails sent by Yoda were illustrated with pictures of Star Wars spaceships, and the company also warned: "Further Jedi attacks are imminent the Force is strong with this one...."
Judge Richard Parkes QC ordered Yoda to pay a further £75,000 in general damages to vindicate ReachLocal's reputation and compensate for the harm done to it.
In addition, he granted injunctions to stop further defamatory statements being made by Yoda.
Judge Parkes said: "I take into account also the cynical and hypocritical claim that the allegations were being made out of a sense of high ethical purpose, whereas in reality they were plainly designed simply to enable the defendants to steal the claimant's customers."
Yoda and people linked to the company are also facing legal costs of about £230,000.