The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced that Charles Carreon, the former FunnyJunk attorney who sued The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman, has dropped the case against Matthew, the charities and the John Does.
“Matthew Inman spoke out against Carreon’s threat of a frivolous lawsuit, in a very popular and very public way,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “This was nothing more than a meritless attempt to punish Inman for calling attention to his legal bullying. We called him out on this in our briefs, so it’s no surprise that Carreon was left with no choice but to dismiss.”
Ars Technica has talked to Carreon about the decision. Carreon calls the stunt “mission accomplished”. The suit was dropped without prejudice, meaning he could refile the suit at anytime.
Also from Ars we learn that Matthew’s original plan to take the $220,000 and photograph it became problematic from a legal perspective and that Matthew opted to photograph his own money and have Indiegogo disperse the funding directly to the charities.
Inman said in a separate sworn statement that, “in order to avoid having this lawsuit interfere with my expression and to avoid jeopardizing the funds from the campaign in any way, I withdrew funds from my own personal account and photographed those funds.” IndieGoGo distributed the funds directly to the two charities. To Charles Carreon, that’s a win.
This bizarre case started last year when Matthew posted a critique of FunnyJunk.com stating that the site’s users had uploaded most of his cartoons and FunnyJunk was reaping advertising profits for its users disregard for his copyright. A small internet skirmish ensued but FunnyJunk backed down and removed Matthews work. A year later Carreon, FunnyJunk’s lawyer, threatens to sue Matthew for defamation if he doesn’t pay FunnyJunk $20,000. Matthew posts Carreon’s legal letter interspersed with his own creative responses and ends with a challenge of his own. Instead of paying the $20,000, Matthew would try to raise that amount and donate it to two charities: American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. A month later Matthew had raised over $220,000. Carreon personally sued Matthew, the charities and certain John Does for mounting a harassment campaign and infringing on his trademark (“Carreon” is trademarked).
You can read the full notice of dismissal on the EFF’s website.