The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is joining with attorney Venkat Balasubramani of the law firm Focal PLLC to represent The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman in a bizarre lawsuit targeting the online comic strip’s fundraising campaign in support of the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation.
“I have a right to express my opinion, whether Mr. Carreon likes it or not,” said Inman. “While the lawsuit may be silly, the harm it can do is very real.”
Inman started his campaign last week as part of a protest over legal threats he received from the website FunnyJunk. In 2011, Inman published a blogpost noting that FunnyJunk had posted many of his comics without crediting or linking back to The Oatmeal. A year later, FunnyJunk claimed the post was defamatory and demanded $20,000 in damages. Inman crafted a unique response, which included some comic art. Instead of paying the baseless demand, Inman asked for donations for the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The campaign raised more than $200,000 so far.
An attorney for FunnyJunk, Charles Carreon, has now responded with a lawsuit filed on his own behalf. Carreon’s suit names Inman, the two charities, and the online fundraising platform IndieGoGo, claiming trademark infringement and incitement to “cyber-vandalism.”
“This lawsuit is a blatant attempt to abuse the legal process to punish a critic,” said EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. “We're very glad to help Mr. Inman fight back.”