Amway Statement on Free Speech, on the Internet, and on Sidney Schwartz and P&G
In connection with a lawsuit filed against Procter & Gamble for its active support of a false and misleading anti-Amway web site, Amway Corporation has served subpoenas on six individuals and groups.
Amway believes those served with subpoenas have participated in or have been party to a coordinated anti-Amway attack subsidized by P&G on the Internet and that they may possess valuable evidence about P&G's dissemination of inflammatory and false information about Amway.
These subpoenas are not about freedom of speech; rather, they are about the collection of evidence. The subpoenas call for all documents -- paper and electronic -- pertaining to P&G's anti-Amway activities. These include communications with P&G and its attorneys, information about various web sites, and communications between individuals engaged in anti-Amway activities. If these individuals and groups do not have information relevant to the lawsuit, these subpoenas should be of no concern.
In November 1998, Amway filed its lawsuit against P&G to protect Amway's successful, multi-national business. Amway filed the lawsuit after learning that P&G was providing misleading information to the author of an anti-Amway web site and was supporting the author of that web site with free legal services and consulting payments.
The Complaint, filed in Michigan federal court, challenges P&G's once-secret consulting relationship with Mr. Schwartz, who has used the World Wide Web to spread false or misleading information about Amway. In an ironic twist, Amway found out about P&G's relationship with Mr. Schwartz during the defense of another case in which P&G falsely claimed Amway was behind an old, false rumor that P&G subsidizes the Church of Satan.
Amway prefers to meet its competitors in the open marketplace, not cloaked behind a mask of false and misleading attacks. By collecting evidence about P&G's subsidy of false and misleading attacks on the Internet, Amway hopes to return to a level playing field with P&G and other manufacturers of household and personal care products.
. . . ON FREE SPEECH Since its founding in 1959, Amway and its founders have been active supporters of personal freedoms, including freedom of speech. Freedom is one of the essential elements of Amway's fundamental business philosophy.
. . . ON THE INTERNET Amway is excited about the Internet and its potential to foster greater international communication and understanding. Amway also believes that respect for basic rights, as well as honesty and civility, are essential to any marketplace of ideas, including the web. Amway carefully reviews all its postings to ensure they are absolutely truthful, legal and respectful of the rights of others. While we respect and welcome honest disagreement and discussion, we expect that others who comment about Amway -- or about the millions of hard-working, dedicated Amway distributors worldwide - will also seek to tell the truth, obey the law and respect others and their differences.
. . . ON SIDNEY SCHWARTZ AND P&G For some time, Amway has been aware of a web site created by Mr. Sidney Schwartz. Mr. Schwartz makes no secret of the fact that he disapproves of Amway and has little or no respect for our distributors and their business opportunity. By itself this causes Amway no problems; everyone is entitled to express his or her opinion. But Mr. Schwartz also posted a considerable amount of material, some of it clearly written by others, that we believe crossed the line from truth and honest opinion to defamation and lies. Also, some of the material posted on Mr. Schwartz's site clearly infringed Amway's trademarks and republished copyrighted material without permission. We recently learned Mr. Schwartz removed most of his web site. While Amway naturally was pleased with Mr. Schwartz's voluntary decision to remove materials we believed were in violation of laws, his explanation and his vague and ominous references to threats by Amway are sensational, inaccurate and highly misleading.
Mr. Schwartz falsely states that Amway has never tried to contact him when, in fact, Amway's attempts to initiate dialogue with Mr. Schwartz and discuss his concerns have been rebuffed. He also gives others the false impression Amway has sued him. To date, even though we are reasonably certain some of the material on his web site violated federal and state law, Amway has chosen not to pursue any kind of legal claim against Mr. Schwartz. Now, Mr. Schwartz is encouraging others to duplicate the illegal material that was presented on his site.
The truth is that Mr. Schwartz is a consultant to Procter & Gamble and is being used in a commercial lawsuit P&G has brought against Amway. The truth is that Amway has the right to question Mr. Schwartz and P&G about their secret consulting relationship so Amway can prepare for trial. The truth is that Amway has been met with resistance from Mr. Schwartz and P&G every step of the way, and the court has ordered Mr. Schwartz to answer questions about his consulting relationship with P&G.
The truth is that Amway has tried to contact Mr. Schwartz, but he will not talk. The truth is that Amway prefers dialogue and has shown great restraint by not suing Mr. Schwartz. The truth is that this is not about free speech. This is about defending Amway in litigation brought by a competitor - from someone who cloaks himself in free speech and under that guise attacks Amway and its millions of distributors.
Amway always has and continues to welcome open, honest discussion of any questions or concerns Mr. Schwartz or anyone else has about Amway or the Amway opportunity.
December 17, 1997