Tables turning: Satiricist Sues Carreon, Judge balks at TRO

Brief updates on the Carreon v. Inman circus, aside from vexatious litigant Jonathan Lee Riches entering the fray:

First, the judge appears to be ready to dismiss Carreon’s TRO application as moot (meaning pointless), pending proof from Inman’s lawyers that the two outstanding checks have been handed over to the charities.  It’s an easy way to resolve the motion without needlessly getting into the complicated First Amendment and California charity law stuff.  Popehat has more analysis and the order here.

Second, the anonymous author of satirical website has filed a lawsuit against Carreon, seeking declaratory relief that his use of the domain name is not trademark infringement.  The Complaint includes correspondence with Carreon in which Carreon makes some astounding threats. (Complaint courtesy, again, of Ken at Popehat, who has more details about the outrageous claims made by Carreon). The anonymous critic comes out of character with a defiant post here.

To me, one of the most astounding is his continued focus on finding some way — any way — to find more frivolous legal claims to make against Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal.

The biggest obstacle to Carreon maintaining a trademark infringement claim against the site (well, besides that pesky First Amendment) is that you have to prove that there’s a bad faith intent to profit from the domain. Carreon thinks he’s found that here because Inman hasn’t asked the website to stop linking to The Oatmeal, and might somehow profit from it.  That’s right: Carreon asserts that Inman is liable for trademark infringement because the satirical website — a website Inman has no control over — links to The Oatmeal and Inman hasn’t said anything about it.

Which still doesn’t mean the holder of the website has an intent to profit off of the domain — he gets nothing by linking to The Oatmeal.  But, once again, Carreon’s focus remains on the guy who insulted his client’s fictional mother.


Carreon’s got his work cut out for him.  He faces formidable First Amendment attorney Paul Alan Levy of Public Citizen.  Levy weighs in on the lawsuit here, highlighting the problems presented by domain registration companies who capitulate in the face of frivolous legal threats and reveal their anonymous customers’ private information.  Of course, it’s hard to blame registers for being caught in a system that gives little advantage to protecting their users, but Levy notes that often stands up for its customers against trademark infringement claims.  Levy also notes his debate with First Amendment luminary Marc Randazza over the issue — a debate which — it’s quite humbling to say — occurred in the comments section of my own site.

It also occurs to me that this is a stunning fall from grace for Carreon, who was respected among First Amendment circles before this circus came to town.  Carreon had connections to the EFF (having received pro hac vice admission upon the roundabout recommendation of an EFF attorney), which has now stepped in on Matthew Inman’s behalf. Public Citizen, an organization close to Ralph Nader, is just more fuel for the fire –the Carreons are admirers of Nader and run a website bearing Nader’s name.  Charles Carreon, feeling the burn, demanded that Levy inform Nader about the circumstances of the case, perhaps thinking Nader would intervene on his behalf.

Anyway, between Randazza serving me humble pie, Levy and Randazza debating in my comments, and humbling affirmation from Ken after scooping Popehat (sorry!), all I need now is for Eugene Volokh to call me an idiot and I can die a happy man. Yeah, I’m bragging — sue me*.

[*Offer does not extend to Mr. Carreon or Jonathan Lee Riches.]


  1. Ken says:

    “all I need now is for Eugene Volokh to call me an idiot and I can die a happy man.”

    Let me see what I can do.

  2. Kris_Shannon says:

    Theres been many laugh out loud moments in this saga, but your footnote has the rest of the pub staring at the weirdo who just snorted his drink all over the counter…

  3. […] so, with the judge about to dismiss his TRO application as legally pointless, and just as the big guns come out, Carreon packs away his water pistol and declares victory on […]

  4. Dudu says:

    Dear Charles, below is my “thirteen” step plan to take over the world and become as much like you and Brett Kimberlin as pslbisoe. Although I am an evil super genius lawyer I would like a fellow evil super genius lawyer to review my plan to ensure I will not end up on the wrong end of California’s anti-SLAPP statute or worse yet land in jail. I hate jail there are no lime popsicles in jail. Thank you for your attention to this very important matter.My 13 step plan:1.) My ego-testicals which are the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. I will keep them in my safe-deposit box.2.) I will not waste time paying attention to the finer points of the law I’m not accountable to anyone.3.) I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the words common sense ; I simply choose not to show any.4.) When my enemy challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks, Or are you afraid without your wife to back you up?” my reply will be, No, just sensible. 5.) I will be secure in my superiority. And I will prove it by leaving clues in the form of obscure poems and photo shopped cartoons to show my weaker enemies they pose no threat.6.) I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labeled Danger: Do Not Push. The big red button marked Do Not Push will instead trigger a spray of clown confettie on anyone stupid enough not to disregard it. 7.) One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.8.) I will never utter the sentence But before I sue you, there’s just one thing I want to know. 9.) Because of its proven stress-relieving effect, I will indulge in maniacal laughter and issuing of frivolous subpoenas. When so occupied, it’s too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.10.) I will not maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses because this takes too much of the fun out of the job. 11.) I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.12.) I will be neither chivalrous nor sporting. I will sue everyone that injures my feelings.13.) Once my power is secure, I will destroy The First Amendment in its entirety.

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