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Dozier Does it Again

By Christopher Harbin and Marc J. Randazza

Dozier Law Firm, P.C. recently escalated its war of words and attrition with cyber-critic Ronald Riley by suing him for trademark infringement.

A bit of background: Dozier became entangled with Riley after sending Riley a cease and desist letter on behalf of their client Inventor-Link. Riley retaliated by registering domains containing various combinations of Dozier’s domain names and sucks.

The thrust of Dozier’s argument is that Riley infringed on their trademark by placing misleading anchor text in the hyperlinks on their web page. Take for example, See what I did there? Dozier claims that hyperlinks purported to link to Dozier’s law firm were in some cases linked to various other Dozier attack sites operated by Riley. When the Legal Satyricon conducted its investigation into Riley’s site, all of the Dozier links either led to Dozier’s website or to “page not found.” Accordingly, Dozier’s claims could not be verified.

The trademark claims, to say the least, are anemic. This complaint seems to be a vehicle for Dozier to take advantage of the litigation privilege so that he can insult and potentially defame Riley without suffering repercussions for his actions. Among Dozier’s chief concerns? Riley lived in a mobile home. For shame!

Ryan Gile at Vegas Trademark Attorney has some familiarity with the defendant.

[A]nybody who knows Riley knows that he is not the type who will back down from what is for the most part a personal attack on his character as well as an attack on his First Amendment rights to free speech – under the guise of a trademark infringement lawsuit. (source)

Techdirt has had its own issues with both Dozier and Riley. Mike Masnick has no great love for Riley, but in reporting on the case, he wrote, “I can’t believe that I’m actually about to defend [Riley]. (source)” Masnick gives us an overview of Dozier’s questionable legal theories including his attempts to claim copyright protection in a cease-and-desist letter, and then Dozier’s exaggeration of a case that he claimed proved him right (it didn’t). The Legal Satyricon previously reported on that issue here and here.

Masnick sums up the case as follows:

So, here we have a lawyer who has repeatedly tried to silence critics with questionable use of copyright law, suing a patent system defender who throws around insults and lies like they’re going out of fashion. These two were made for each other, so it’s really difficult to root for one over the other — but, based on the facts explained so far, it’s difficult to see what Riley has done wrong, other than be an annoying jerk. And, even if that’s annoying, it’s still not illegal. (source)

It was a tough call whether to award the asshat award to Dozier alone or to jointly award it to him and Riley. Riley may be abrasive, and may not be the most sporting critic ever, but Dozier has filed a patently frivolous lawsuit and should, by all rights, be subject to sanctions from the court for doing so. Being an asshole doesn’t necessarily get you the asshat award, filing a frivolous lawsuit in order to silence a critic — that wins every time.

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