New Hampshire's Supreme Court has ruled that calling someone a "patent troll" is not defamatory because "patent troll" is a statement of opinion and can neither be factually proved nor disproved.
The case was brought by Automated Transactions Limited, who claims a broad patent on machines that dispense cash (ATL founder David Barcelou invented some unsuccessful gaming machines in the 1990s and received several patents they say cover the normal operations of ATMs and other common machines). ATL has made millions demanding patent license fees.
Bob Stier, a lawyer who represented some of ATL's targets, was quoted in a 2013 interview in which he called ATL a "patent troll" and repeated the characterization on his firm's website. The Credit Union National Association also called ATL a "patent troll" in presentations they gave about demand letters served to their members.
This prompted ATL to file suit against Stier, CUNA, the ABA and others in 2016, claiming that the terms "troll," "shakedown" and "extortion" were all defamatory. The case made it to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, who dismissed ATL's case and said that ""The challenged statement, that ATL is a well-known patent troll, is one of opinion rather than fact. The statement is an assertion that, among other things, ATL is a patent troll because its patent-enforcement activity is 'aggressive.' This statement cannot be objectively verified."
Officially, the ruling by the New Hampshire Supreme Court only applies in New Hampshire. But state courts do pay attention to rulings in other states. If trolls sue for defamation in other states, the defendants will be able to cite the New Hampshire precedent in their defense, making it more likely that they'll ultimately prevail.
They called you a troll, deal with it—court slaps down libel lawsuit [Timothy B Lee/Ars Technica]
Abbey Winters, the wife of Chattooga County, Georgia’s sole county commissioner, was arrested Friday and charged with battery after pouring a drink on a reporter. The reporter had apparently asked her husband, Jason Winters, a difficult question about a trip to France. The drink was named as “soda”, but the brand and flavor were not […]
Greennet (previously) is the oldest ISP in the UK, tracing its origins back to Fidonet, where it was a hub for radical progressive political movements, which has attracted retaliations (in the form of DDoS attacks by repressive states) and surveillance (Greennet was one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against GCHQ over surveillance activities that […]
Diamond and Silk are a social media duo famous for supporting Trump and claiming, without evidence, that Facebook “censored” them. Wonkette is a news, politics and culture website. Bianca DeLaRosa writes for it, and recently offered the opinion that Diamond and Silk were notable as “Black White Nationalists” due to their support of Trump’s policies […]
If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to travel more, you owe it to yourself to learn the language of the place you’re visiting. If you’re not sure where to start, give these resources a look. From mobile apps to online courses, these products can get you conversant in a new language before you […]
Anyone who loves biking, skiing, or snowboarding in the great outdoors knows just how difficult it can be to safely transport your gear—especially during extended trips. These three accessories make it easier than ever to securely attach your gear to your car. So if you’re planning to embark on a outdoor adventure soon, you’d be […]
It seems like AI is everywhere these days, from the voice recognition software in our personal assistants to the ads that pop up seemingly at just the right time. But believe it or not, the field is still in its infancy. That means there’s no better time to get in on the ground floor. The […]