FunnyJunk's lawyer sues American Cancer Society and National Wildlife Federation

Charles Carreon, the lawyer who sent a legal threat to The Oatmeal on behalf of FunnyJunk (FunnyJunk was upset that The Oatmeal had complained about the undisputed fact that its users routinely post Oatmeal comics to the site and threatened a libel suit unless they got $20,000 from The Oatmeal), has made good on his threat to comb the statute books until he could find something to sue Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman over.

But Mr Carreon has gone much, much farther. He has not only named Inman to the suit, but is also suing IndieGoGo (Inman launched an IndieGoGo fundraiser for a cancer charity and the National Wildlife Federation, and raised over $100,000 for them, with a promise that he would photograph himself standing astride the money and send it as a taunt to Carreon prior to remitting it to the charity). He is also suing the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society.

Ken at Popehat and Kevin from Lowering the Bar are offering pro bono counsel to the defendants in the suit, and looking for other First Amendment attorneys to volunteer their time to fight Carreon's lawsuit. Here's Ken's summary of the Courthouse News Service summary of Carreon's suit:

1. The lawsuit is captioned Charles Carreon v. Matthew Inman; IndieGogo Inc.; National Wildlife Federation; American Cancer Society; and Does [Does are as-of-yet-unnamed defendants], Case No. 4:12 cv 3112 DMR.

2. Charles Carreon appears as "attorney pro se," meaning "I am attorney but am representing only myself" and "I will continue to wreak havoc until forcibly medicated."

3. CNS included the following description of the case, which is most likely drafted by CNS upon review of the complaint: "Trademark infringement and incitement to cyber-vandalism. Defendants Inman and IndieGogo are commercial fundraisers that failed to file disclosures or annual reports. Inman launched a Bear Love campaign, which purports to raise money for defendant charitable organizations, but was really designed to revile plaintiff and his client,, and to initiate a campaign of "trolling" and cybervandalism against them, which has caused people to hack Inman's computer and falsely impersonate him. The campaign included obscenities, an obscene comics and a false accusation that FunnyJunk "stole a bunch of my comics and hosted them." Inman runs the comedy website The Oatmeal."

As Ken points out, if the CNS summary is true, then Carreon's suit is especially frivolous:

Now, that summary, most likely written by CNS, may be flawed; thorough analysis must await getting a copy of the complaint. But to the extent the summary is accurate, it suggests a number of patent defects in the complaint. First of all, Carreon — appearing pro se — doesn't have standing to sue for false statements against FunnyJunk, or for trademark violations against FunnyJunk. Second, if the "trademark infringement" is premised on the notion that The Oatmeal violated Charles Carreon's trademark in his own name by criticizing him, it is knowingly frivolous for the reasons set forth in the excellent letter Mr. Inman's attorney sent. Inman's discussion of Charles Carreon was self-evidently on its face classic nominative fair use, because it named him to shame him and not to make commercial use of his name. Similarly, I can say that Charles Carreon remains a petulant, amoral, censorious douchebag without violating his trademark because that's nominative, not commercial.

Ken's post is (as always) full of great analysis, and he recommends that if you want to help fight Mr Carreon's douchebaggery that you donate to the Oatmeal's charity fundraiser (currently standing at $178K and rising) and tell your friends (he also asks that you not send angry emails or calls to Mr Carreon).

Update: Lowering the Bar has the complaint

The Oatmeal v. FunnyJunk, Part IV: Charles Carreon Sues Everybody


    1. Careful. He’ll probably sue you. lol! But really. Oh and OMG thanks for that video! That was perfect.

      1. Most are quite sensible, in fact.   They make their living off the conflicts of other people, most of whom don’t understand the law, or much else for that matter.    Law is what makes civilization civil.   We usually don’t blame doctors for disease, do we?  

        1. As a matter of fact, doctors are the cause of a ton of disease, dealers of insanely addictive drugs, and the spreaders of much ignorance in the world. Lawyers are the source of vast amounts of injustice, the one at the middle of this conflict being a great example. “Making their living off of the conflicts of other people” might well be rewritten as “Making their living by inflaming the conflicts of other people”. In many ways lawyers are quite like arms dealers.

          Doctors, lawyers, politicians, police – they all belong to the class of “respectable” professions that get a pass from society hugely raising the bar of what is considered unacceptable behavior.

          1. Righto, be sure to tell this all to the doctor the next time you have an appendicitis or get cancer or the flu or malaria. Yes there are diseases that are spread in the hospitals but that is somewhat inevitable. Also fun fact for the ignorant: If actually used to treat pain, medications are not addictive. YAY KNOWLEDGE!

          2. Also fun fact for the ignorant: If actually used to treat pain, medications are not addictive.

            After I’ve carefully explained to people why I take Vicodin (their eyes usually glaze over after about ten seconds), there’s always a wink wink nudge nudge about how much fun it must be getting high. I would like to scream, “I don’t fucking get high!”, but they would just attribute it to withdrawal symptoms instead of frustration with idiocy.

  1. Seriously?  This is “The Oatmeal”‘s arch-nemesis?  I was expecting someone with a twirl-able moustache, or a secret lab.  Minions, at the very least.  Instead, Oatmeal gets a bumbling irate lawyer with a twitchy lawsuit finger.  Where’s the fun in that?

    1. I just found out that he lives in my city, but he’s in a tract house in a bland subdivision on the über-boring east side.

      Guy needs a secret underground lair at the North Pole.

  2. How the hell did FunnyJunk people find this fruitcake ? They must be regretting the day they hired him.

    1. Yeah… which kinda makes you wonder he’s representing himself and not Funnyjunk in this lawsuit? Hmmmmm :)
      But if I where running Funnyjunk I would send very large scale contribution to Bear Love and a formal apology including the promise that they will never ever hire Carreon again – I mean honestly, they HAVE to start thinking about how this will affect them as a company.

  3. The Jack Thompson comparisons just keep making themselves. Seriously, when will this guy read up on recent legal history? This is actually worse now than the Thompson vs. PA debacle. This guy may actually be trying to set a new record for how quickly he can get himself disbarred. He’s gone from facing one SLAPP lawsuit to facing four now. He’d better pray none of this gets to court or he’ll destroy his own livelihood. What a moron.

    1. Until he filed this suit, I didn’t think there was a Jack Thompson comparison.

      Now, I totally agree with you.  He’s only ‘probably’ going to end up getting disbarred — but he’s definitely never going to have a legitimate client again.

      1. Well, Thompson’s PR troubles really got out of hand when he tried to file defamation and “incite to threaten” charges against the PA guys for writing a check to a charity with the note, “Because Jack Thompson wouldn’t.” That’s why this first started to look familiar when Carreon tried to get IndieGoGo to delist the charity drive. So far the biggest difference between this and the PA thing is that, as far as we know, Carreon hasn’t called the FBI to try and report Inman for criminal activity.

        It took years for Thompson’s meltdown to get so far out of hand that he was disbarred (and ultimately the conduct that got him disbarred had nothing to do with PA). This guy though, he’s really shooting for the “biggest misinterpretation of the law he’s supposed to understand” prize. I’m actually kind of looking forward to the judge’s inevitable dressing down of Carreon in court. If he continues to behave like this through the court proceeding, he’s not far from what got Thompson disbarred.

        Also, do we have any evidence that Carreon ever had any legitimate clients?

      1. Maybe Carreon’s innovation will have been to provide a unit of measurement for the previously-monolithic Streisand Effect.

    1.  Can we mandate that all education have at least a cursory lesson on the Streisand Effect?

      I propose a 15 minute video every year past the 1st grade all the way through college and grad programs. If this doesn’t catch enough people it should be included in every states drivers license exam and tax filing process.

      Eventually people will get the idea.

      1.  No. If we educate the masses of the Streisand Effect, we lose the Streisand Effect.

        Solid entertainment is few and far between these days. Don’t take this from us.

  4. From what I have seen the courts are not very kind to extremely frivolous lawsuits. I have a feeling this is going to end in hilarity.

  5.  What a pity that Sid James is no longer with us.  I would so look forward to “Carry On Suing”.

      1.  Gee, I thought the pun was obvious in my post.  Judging by the number of “likes” you garnered, I guess I should have been a little less subtle.

  6. Assuming Mr Carreon still works for FunnyJunk he may have unwittingly done them the service of providing the site its first original comedy material.

    Rather than scraping other sites for material I think henceforth FunnyJunk should promote Mr Carreon to the position of head writer because, let’s face it, the guy’s a laugh riot. Plus it’ll be a nice way for them to soften the blow of his pending disbarment. 

    1. Ken I read part of the filing and I clearly heard a snap in my brain… know anyone who would help me sue him for inflicting it upon me?  :)

  7. [Does are as-of-yet-unnamed defendants] 

    From prior behavior, it’s possible that this guy is trying to include Bambi’s mother as a defendant.

  8. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when Matt’s, Indiegogo’s, ACS’, and NWF’s lawyers all get together. It’ll pretty much be: “Which nuke that this guy handed us do we want to use on him?”

    He has posted the filing on his website so you can download and enjoy…
    Has been shown in the state of California to cause mental damage.

    O M F F S M… this would be funny, if it wasn’t submitted to a court.

    My email was secret, only people with access to PACER, able to run a WhoIs, or with half a clue could have found out what it was…  its all Inman’s evil handywork!!!!  RAWR!!!!!

    1. Oh and I just found that secret unpublished email on his own website on an email from 2007 when he was trying to threaten Google for having delisted the wacky website he and his wife run…

      Lying to the court… seems like a really stupid thing to do.

    1. Courthouse News Service I had to take a second look myself when i read it – I was wondering how he ran afoul of the Central Nervous System.

  10. All other lawyers hate lawyers like this.  Isolated incidents of douchebaggitude* are what lead the public to believe ‘all lawyers are assholes’.  Seriously, I’d be surprised if his colleagues aren’t all over his neck talking him out of it for the sake of their collective professional image.

  11. Carreon

    1. To lash out blindly, yet only succeed in causing harm to oneself.

    “He became so enraged that he lost control and began to carreon wildly, until he was covered in self-inflicted bruises and passers-by began to back away slowly.”

    1. You know, English actually could use a word for that action.  Too bad as far as I can tell though his name already sounds like carrion.

  12. Can someone tell this guy that the rule is “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”, not “When you’re in a hole, send out for a mechanical excavator”?

  13. If they haven’t done so already FunnyJunk should likely fire this clown before he draws them into something much much bigger then they ever intended.  I can’t imagine a company that called an attorney to see if there was anything that could be done about some unflattering Google results really meant to be connected to a lawsuit against National Wildlife Federation and American Cancer Society

    1. This lawsuit isn’t connected to funnyjunk, except they had the misfortune of having hired him once.  This entire case is all his own.

  14. Somebody get this lawyer a lawyer to provide him with some legal advice, stat. Also, take away his cocaine stash, he clearly spent 48 hours hoovering columbian snow before deciding that the best course was to sue a cancer charity and a wildlife charity.

  15. I just read the lawsuit as posted on Carreon’s site.

    I particularly like 1) that he donated to the campaign himself and 2) his assertion of copyright over his name and the resulting consumer confusion that has directly resulted. There’s more, but I need to pace myself.

    1. Ars Technica is reporting he donated just to give himself standing to object to the fundraising.

  16. Why no one is mentioning Paul Christoforo vs Penny Arcade?

    This guy is like Christoforo in (more powerful) steroids!

  17. Isn’t Rule 1 for Attorneys  : “An attorney who defends himself has a fool for a client?”

  18. Did anyone else notice this Carreon fellow has registered his name as a Trademark, using it as a Servicemark for his legal services? 

  19. This story reminds me of one of Carlos Bulosan’s short stories, My Father Goes To Court. Bulosan grew up poor in the Philippines and wrote stories about his youth there. In MFGTC, he and his poor family lived next door to a wealthy man who ate quite well. There was always a chicken roasting or some other wonderful scent wafting from the wealthy man’s house, and sometimes he and his whole family would just step outside to enjoy the scent before returning to their own meager rations. Eventually, the rich guy sued. The family next door was unfairly enjoying the fruit of his table. In court, Bulosan’s father didn’t defend himself, but rather passed the hat and collected every penny his family had, not all that many. Then he presented the hat to the rich man, conceding that he had enjoyed the scent of his cooking food, but when the rich man reached for the hat, Bulosan’s father pulled it away saying that he had seen and smelled the money, and that was suitable repayment. Needless to say, the story ends happily.

    (It’s behind a paywall at, and it was republished in A Treasury of Laughter.)

    P.S. This story is far from an exact parallel, but the medium of justice has its parallels.

    1. Isn’t the internet like something out of Emil and the Detectives. (Young boy has his money stolen on a train. Crowds of street kids all help him get his money back and expose the crook.)

    2. That’s a rewrite of a story from ‘Aesop’ or the 1,001 Nights or some other ancient source. Originally the payment is the sound of money for the scent of food.

    1.  It is a possible case of tantra-induced delusional syndrome. See

      I checked to see if this guy had had any disciplinary proceedings against him. Two, fairly minor. He was once disbarred for 60 days. However, when he was disciplined in California the next year, they thought it was a first offense.
      So, if any of you are going to be bringind this matter to the attention of the Cal. Attorney disciplinary commission, you could mention that it would be a third strike.

  20. This story has been strange from the start. Sites like FunnyJunk live almost exclusively from people posting other people’s copyrighted work there – for FJ’s profit.

    Normally they get away with that behavior, because most people enjoy going to a site that has a collection of funny things from all over the internet. Every once in a while someone complains when their work is appropriated for the site, but that passes quietly. They take down some pictures, the one complaining shuts up, and FJ can keep making money from other people’s work.

    Making a big stinking deal about what the Oatmeal said about FunnyJunk changes that whole dynamic though. The lawyer is doing nothing but drawing a whole lot of attention to what FunnyJunk is all about and makes it harder and harder for people to ignore the blatant copyright violations.

    I can’t imagine that there is anything positive in this for FunnyJunk. Sometimes no press really is better than bad press.

  21. Does Carreon think that letting everyone on the internet know he’s a moron is going to help him in his case??  Also, he’s SUING THE AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY.  That’s just being a jerk.

  22. The band Kansas seems to have foreseen this with the lyrics of the song:
    “Carreon, My Wayward Son”, particularly the 3rd verse:

    Masquerading as a man with a reason
    My charade is the event of the season
    And if I claim to be a wise man, well
    It surely means that I don’t know

  23. Why is it always the ones who are in the wrong that get the most defensive and litigious?  FunnyJunk is like the new Ebaumsworld.  They aggregate comics and pictures, slap their shitty name on them, and try to claim them as original content — or content they’ve fostered in their ~unique community~ by-proxy.
    Guess what?  The internet is a complex web of information.  I see a picture I find funny, I repost it elsewhere.  Welcome to the 21st century.  Don’t like it?  Sue me.

  24. “2. Charles Carreon appears as “attorney pro se,” meaning “I am attorney but am representing only myself” and “I will continue to wreak havoc until forcibly medicated.”..

    Too funny. (Please don’t sue me Chuck, I’m just having a laugh.)

  25. I’m rather looking forward to the moment when he sues himself for “causing irreparable harm to my professional reputation” and “causing me to become an object of ridicule for the entire Internet”. Really, a case in which he appears pro se for both plaintiff and defendant is the only logical conclusion to this whole business. Let’s hope he doesn’t decide to settle with himself out of court.

  26. My theory is that Mr. Carreon had an epiphany and decided to became a organic farmer, so he decided to help Oatmeal fund raising giving them as much  publicity as possibly, given the fact he wont need his lawyer license (or whatever is called) in his new life.

    This is the most rational explanation of his behavior (so it is probably wrong)

    1. My similar theory is that once the fundraisers generate a remarkably large donation, Carreon will say he is withdrawing his suits, and he was just taking advantage of the publicity to help two causes he cares deeply for. He rescues his career and actually ends on a positive note. Even if this wasn’t his goal, I think he should adopt it.

  27. I’m beginning to wonder if this whole thing isn’t some elaborate performance art piece.  No matter, it’s quite entertaining.  Carreon.

    1. Someone with more time than I have at the moment should be reworking Blame Canada into Blame Carreon.

  28. Wow… One doesn’t often get the opportunity to watch a lawyer melt down so completely and so publicly…

  29. the truncated title in my web browser tab is “FunnyJunk’s lawyer sues America…” oddly appropriate

  30. I’m sorry, this is just getting sad, now. This man should be given supervisory care, therapy, and medication. And his even-less-attached-to-reality wife. Seriously, these two are less grounded in reality than a balloon made of unicorn farts, painted in an invisible shade of bicycle disappointment.

    I can’t even laugh at Carreon anymore. It’s like watching an old man piss all over himself because he absolutely refuses help even though he’s 96 years old and barely able to control his arms. It’s not funny, it’s just sad and uncomfortable to watch.

  31. FunkyJunk encountered a wild Oatmeal

    FunkyJunk sent out Carreon

    Carreon used nonsense

    It’s not very effective

    The Oatmeal used common sense

    Its super effective, the Carreon is confused

    Carreon is confused

    It hurt its self in confusion

    Carreon has fainted

  32. Maybe get the Oatmeal to donate $20 to Scientology just to give them a serve of crazy harrassmenty litigation.

  33. For the record I’d like to say that it’s not FunnyJunk itself doing this, but rather the Admin. Everyone on FJ hates Admin.

  34. I think Charles Carreon would be a prime candidate for a Nigerian scam, he has no clue how the actual internet works.

  35. You can’t blame the guy for living up to his last name:  Change the e to i,  and you have carrion, dead putrid bubbling flesh, sounds out the same too.  I haven’t read all 90ish posts, I’m sure it’s been mentioned, unless everyone is worried about being sued…

    Well, look at that, is available…anyone?

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