In this case, patent assertion entity Automated Transactions, LLC (“ATL”) and inventor David Barcelou filed a defamation complaint [PDF] in New Hampshire Superior Court. ATL and Barcelou allege that statements referring to them as a “patent troll” are defamatory. They also claim that characterizations of ATL’s litigation campaign as a “shakedown,” “extortion,” or “blackmail” are defamatory.
New Hampshire Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker ruled [PDF] that “patent troll” and other rhetorical characterizations are not the type of factual statements that can be the basis of a defamation claim. ATL and Barcelou appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
EFF and the ACLU of New Hampshire have submitted an amicus brief [PDF] explaining that the Superior Court got it right. The First Amendment allows critics of patent trolls to express their opinions, even with harsh or fanciful language.