Background: the previous entries in our coverage of Charles Carreon's bizarre and contemptible behavior on behalf of his client, FunnyJunk, against The Oatmeal can be found here at Part I, Part II, and Part III.
On Friday, June 15, 2012, attorney Charles Carreon passed from mundane short-term internet notoriety into a sort of legal cartoon-supervillainy.
He transcended typical internet infamy when he filed a federal lawsuit last Friday in the United Sates District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland. He belonged to the ages the moment he filed that lawsuit not only against Matthew Inman, proprietor of The Oatmeal, but also against IndieGoGo Inc., the company that hosted Inman's ridiculously effective fundraiser for the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society.
But that level of censorious litigiousness was not enough for Charles Carreon. He sought something more. And so, on that same Friday, Charles Carreon also sued the National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society, the beneficiaries of Matthew Inman's fundraiser.
Yes. Charles Carreon, butthurt that someone had leveraged his douchebaggery into almost two hundred thousand dollars of donations to two worthy charities, sued the charities.
I learned of this from Kevin Underhill, a Northern California attorney and proprietor of Lowering the Bar. If you don't already have Lowering the Bar in your RSS feed or your bookmarks, go put it there now. Now. There is no better site on the internet for simultaneously teaching and entertaining about the legal system.
Kevin emailed me because he spotted a notice from Courthouse News Service that Carreon had filed suit on Friday. The suit is not available on PACER as of the time of this writing. Here's what little Kevin found, and told me, from CNS:
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, Funnyjunk.com, 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."
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 classicnominative 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.
Further analysis must await review of the complaint, which should be available to the public soon. Note that there is no way to tell yet — without the complaint — the causes of action he has levied against the charities. He may have sued them only for injunctive or declaratory relief.