(CN) - An entertainment executive was not cyberstalked by a rival who compared him to Hitler on Instagram, a Florida appeals court ruled.
This dispute involves entertainment executives who clashed over the Michael Jackson hologram performance at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards.
The hologram was shown by John Textor's company, Pulse Entertainment. However, Hologram USA, run by Alkiviades "Alki" David, sued Pulse for patent infringement.
That case is still pending in a Nevada federal court.
Later in 2014, Textor accused David of cyberstalking. He alleged that David stated via text that he would drop the patent infringement suit if Textor would give Hologram USA credit at the awards ceremony.
If not, according to Textor, David would increase the amount of damages he sought in the lawsuit.
"You will be ruined I promise you," David allegedly texted.
Textor also cited an article on Entrepreneur.com that quoted David as saying he "would have killed (Textor)" if he could.
Before a court hearing on the cyberstalking claim, Textor alleged that David had threatened via email to expose photos, illicit money transfers and lawsuits from disgruntled employees if Textor didn't end litigation by his company.
"I hope for you and your family's sake you are man enough to put an end to this now," David's email concluded.
In addition, David tagged Textor's Instagram account with a photo of Adolf Hitler.
"Sorry if I have offended any #neonazis," the caption read.
The trial court granted Textor's request for an injunction. David appealed, stating that his words were part of a heated business rivalry.
The West Palm Beach-based Fourth District Florida Court of Appeals reversed the decision in a ruling written by Judge Martha Warner.
"Because we conclude that the conduct alleged in the petition is not cyberstalking and the injunction violates the First Amendment, we reverse," she wrote on behalf of a three-judge panel.
Warner noted that David did not threaten Textor's safety in his emails and that the Entrepreneur article's author wrote "David joked" regarding the comment about killing Textor.
"Because of the existence of the various lawsuits and the heated controversy over the hologram patents, these emails had a legitimate purpose in trying to get Textor to drop what David considered a spurious lawsuit," the judge wrote.
"Moreover, nothing in the emails should have caused substantial emotional distress to Textor, himself a sophisticated businessman," Warner added.
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