Charles Carreon v. The Oatmeal: Case Dismissed, Everyone Wins

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 05, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The downside of the adversarial system is that the parties in litigation are, you know, adversaries. Generally, only one can win.

Occasionally, there are cases in which both parties claim victories. That's what happened this week in Attorney Charles Carreon's personal lawsuit against The Oatmeal, IndieGoGo, the National Wildlife Federation, the American Cancer Society, and other defendants.

The original dispute in the case involved The Oatmeal and Last year, The Oatmeal mastermind Matthew Inman complained that FunnyJunk was hosting his work without permission. A year after Inman's complaint, FunnyJunk (through Charles Carreon) demanded $20,000 from Inman for defamation. Inman responded with a creative solution, Operation "Bear Love Good/Cancer Bad".

"Bear Love Good/Cancer Bad" is Inman's online fundraising campaign through IndieGoGo. The goal was to raise $20,000 for National Wildlife Federation and the American Cancer Society. Inman communicated to FunnyJunk that he would send a photograph of himself with the cash, before sending the cash to the charities. (The promotional drawing for the campaign might have depicted either the FunnyJunk site administrator's mother or Carreon's mother seducing a Kodiak bear.)

Inman's fundraiser brought in over 10 times as much as hoped.

Carreon was none-to-pleased by Inman's response, and filed his own claim in a California federal court again Inman, IndieGoGo, and the charities, alleging violations of IndieGoGo's terms of service and trademark infringement. The case quickly turned from Carreon v. Inman to Carreon v. Internet. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stepped in to defend Inman, and Carreon became the butt of more than a few jokes on legal and tech blogs.

Tuesday, Carreon dropped his case by filing Notice of Voluntary Dismissal. He also told Ars Technica that his legal crusade was a "mission accomplished" and bragged, "I'm famous, I'm notorious."

The "accomplished" mission here could be that Charles Carreon successfully dissuaded Inman from taking a picture with the IndieGoGo generated funds. (Carreon filed a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent IndieGoGo from giving Inman the $220,000 raised for Bear Love Good/Cancer Bad. Inman, instead, withdrew his own cash for the photo op, and IndieGoGo sent the crowd-sourced funds straight to the charities.)

EFF is also declaring a win this week. In a statement on Tuesday after Carreon's dismissal filing, EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry said, "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."

If only the parties to every lawsuit could be equally happy with their outcomes.

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