One may say that the court of public opinion has found its voice in the rise of social media, and its influence should not be underestimated. In addition to legal, business and other strategic considerations, companies seeking to protect and enforce their rights should also consider how their actions will be viewed by their customers, potential customers and the public at large.

This  difficult lesson was learned recently by a Québec-based company. After years of litigation, and despite a successful appeal to the Québec Court of Appeal overturning a monetary award, Lassonde Industries Inc. is reported to have agreed to compensate the defendant financially following a public outcry on Facebook and Twitter related to Lassonde Industries’ litigation practices.

The defendant’s statement, as quoted in the media, is telling of the risk to companies who become the focus of a negative social media campaign. “I spent seven years fighting this [litigation], and within basically 48 hours, because of the outpouring of support, it was resolved.”