American Addiction Centers (AAC), an addiction treatment group, has brought an action against a trade group, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), for engaging practices that are anti-competitive and defamatory in nature. In the complaint, AAC asserted that the NAATP violated the Lanham Act, an act prohibiting the misrepresentation of goods, services or commercial activities.
The American Addiction Centers is suing the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers on the following theories: defamation, tortious interference, breach of contract, constructive fraud, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing as well as violation of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act. Read more: American Addiction Centers | Crunchbase and American Addiction Centers New Docuseries Unveils The Realities of Recovery
it is claimed that the NAATP engaged in a coordinated effort to prevent the AAC from being able to advertise on Google by misrepresenting the company as a “bad actor” to an organization that is given the authority to certifies addiction-center advertising on the Google search platform.
It is further claimed that the American Addiction Centers and its two directory websites, rehabs.com and recovery.org, were blocked from advertising on Google as a result of the NAATP’s efforts.
Moreover, it is claimed that the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers intentionally excluded the AAC from membership by amending its ethics standards without notifying it of the changes.
One such efforts on the NAATP’s part involved its lobbing of Google to remove any addiction treatment group that are labeled bad actors from being able to secure addiction advertising. As a result, Google created LegitScript whose goal was to eliminate unethical and deceptive marketing practices on Google by preventing any addiction providers that are not LegitScript-certified from bidding for ad space. AAC maintains that it has never engaged in any unethical or deceptive marketing practices.
Despite this, the NAATP not only made efforts to influence both Google and LegitScript but also falsely represented that the American Addiction Centers was a “bad actors” in addiction marketing.
This resulted in the AAC being denied LegitScript certification with the result that AAC was not allowed to purchase search ads on Google. Subsequently, LegitScript was adopted by Facebook and Bing, which made AAC’s purchase of search advertising virtually impossible. When AAC tried to work with LegitScript to resolve the problem, it was rebuffed.
As a result of the denial of access to Google search ads, AAC experienced a drop in third-party providers buying ad space on its two directory websites, considerably less third-party opportunities in its diagnostic lab testing business and a decrease in the number of patients admitted to its treatment centers. As a result of the NAATP’s repeated efforts at defaming its reputation, advertisers left its directory websites in fear of retaliation or blacklisting by the NAATP or LegitScript.
Learn more about American Addiction Centers: