(CN) – An Arizona attorney has dropped a lawsuit against the creator of the popular comic website The Oatmeal over an online feud that erupted when another website allegedly posted Oatmeal cartoons without permission or credit.
Charles Carreon, of Tucson, Ariz., claimed that Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman began defaming him on the Internet after lobbing theft claims against Funnyjunk.com, a content aggregator website.
Inman publicly accused the Seattle-based FunnyJunk of stealing his comics and making defamatory remarks in 2010.
Carreon, who is licensed to practice in California, says FunnyJunk retained him to respond and that he sent a demand letter for $20,000 in damages. The letter also asked that Inman remove all references FunnyJunk from his website and blog.
In a San Francisco lawsuit filed last month, Carreon said Inman launched a fundraiser called “Operation BearLove Good, Cancer Bad.” It featured a cartoon of an obese woman in her underwear, trying to seduce a bear, which Inman described as a drawing of the mother of Funkyjunk’s creator.
Inman said he would give the proceeds to the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation, rather than the creator of FunkyJunk, “hoping that philanthropy trumps douchebaggery and greed.”
The campaign raised well above the intended mark, bringing in $200,000, which has already been delivered to the named charities.
Carreon’s complaint sought relief from Inman, the two charities and the website Inman used as its funding platform, Indiegogo.com.
Inman’s attorneys with the Electronic Frontier Foundation described Carreon’s lawsuit as “bizarre” and “frivolous.”
“While Carreon’s lawsuit was purportedly about whether Inman’s online fundraising campaign for the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation complies with California regulations, it was really a classic SLAPP – a strategic lawsuit against public participation,” EFF attorney Venkat Balasubramani said in a statement last week.
Kurt Opsahl, another EFF attorney, called the lawsuit “nothing more than a meritless attempt to punish Inman for calling attention to [Carreon’s] legal bullying.”
“We called him out on this in our briefs, so it’s no surprise that Carreon was left with no choice but to dismiss,” Opsahl said.
The EFF praised Inman’s efforts to protect his rights, as well as the campaign’s outcome.
“Inman sparked a flood of charity donations, and yet Carreon still tried to punish him for making fun of his baseless legal threats by dragging him through the court system,” EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said in a statement. “We’re very pleased that Carreon has seen that his lawsuit had no merit, and hope that this is the end of his abuse of the legal system.”