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Herbalife files petition to seek user information from Twitter

Herbalife filed a petition seeking information from micro-blogging company Twitter to identify an anonymous user who posted defamatory tweets against the weight-loss and nutritional products maker.

The petition for "discovery before suit" seeks to identify the person against whom a lawsuit can be filed.

Herbalife said it wants Twitter to provide information such as IP addresses and account details of the user who vilified the company and its management as "thieves, pill pushing frauds and bullies."

"The twitter feed of @AfueraHerbaLIES contains not only defamatory, disparaging, and deceptive posts about Herbalife and its products, but also contains numerous insulting and offensive statements about Herbalife's management team, its members, and even federal regulators," the company said in the petition filed on Monday in Illinois.

Herbalife said the user's tweets, accusing it of selling toxic and unregulated products, prejudice the company in its trade and are materially harmful to its reputation.

The company wants the court to order Twitter to preserve all information relating to the matter and also allow Herbalife to serve discovery upon Twitter, including document production requests.

Twitter's privacy policy requires a court order before the company releases information about its users.

"This is pretty straightforward. We are not going to sit back and let someone make false and defamatory statements about our company," said Alan Hoffman, a representative for Herbalife.

Reuters could not immediately reach Twitter for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

Billionaire investor William Ackman has long accused Herbalife of being a fraud, claiming the company runs a pyramid scheme in which participants earn more money by recruiting others to sell the company's products than they do by selling the product. Herbalife has denied those allegations.

The case is in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois; Herbalife International of America Inc v. Twitter Inc.