Ronald J. Riley Sued By The Lawyer Who Copyrights Cease-And-Desist Letters
from the who-to-root-for? dept
If you read the comments on this site regularly — especially concerning posts having to do with patents or the patent system — you’re probably quite familiar with a guy named Ronald J. Riley. He’s quite the character. He’s also quite the fan of the existing patent system. He’s started a bunch of different “organizations” supposedly to protect the patent system, though there are plenty of accusations that Riley’s main focus in life is getting unsuspecting inventors to give him money. Someone has even created a site cataloguing Riley’s ridiculous statements. It’s not clear what Riley has actually done in his life, but he has been effective over the years in using his made up organizations to give himself an air of legitimacy, which often gets him quoted in the press on patent issues, despite showing a consistently poor understanding of the process of innovation, technology and the patent system itself (for example, he believes the purpose is only to protect small inventors, not to promote overall innovation — and he believes that anyone accused of patent infringement clearly “stole” the idea, even if they came up with it independently).
Riley also has a history of being… well… a bit abrasive in comments on various sites all across the internet, including here at Techdirt. He enjoys personally insulting me or lying about me and does so on a regular basis (such as here and here for just a couple of examples). Most hilariously, he continually accuses me of somehow being on the payroll of companies who support the patent reform bill that keeps showing up in Congress every year, despite the fact I have clearly stated that I think the bill will make the situation worse rather than better. Riley is also famous for taking credit every time this same patent reform bill fails to move through Congress, ignoring that it’s actually the powerful pharmaceutical industry lobbyists that kill it, not Riley. In the three plus years that he’s been commenting here, Riley has never once had anything other than an insult or a lie to say about me.
Given all that, I can’t believe that I’m actually about to defend him.
A few people have sent in the news that Ronald J. Riley is being sued by the Dozier Internet Law Firm. From Dozier’s press release, the actual charges are not at all clear. The only thing listed in the press release is that “Riley’s misconduct includes his attacking bloggers and blog and forum moderators with threats of getting IP addresses of anonymous bloggers and then tracking them down.” Given the way Riley acts around here, those accusations don’t seem particularly surprising — but it’s not clear what’s illegal about them. Perhaps there is more to this lawsuit, and if so, Dozier should be much more forthcoming about it, because based on what’s been described, it certainly seems like Dozier is just suing Riley because Riley is a pest. And while Riley may be a pest, may be insulting and may even be misleading, it’s hard to see what’s illegal about his activities. Despite the fact that he regularly insults me and lies about me, I have no problem with Riley posting his ridiculous messages — as it just encourages others to show how clueless Riley is.
And, of course, Dozier is something of a piece of work himself. You may recall his name from when he tried to send an online review site a cease-and-desist letter that he claimed they could not post on their own site because it was covered by copyright. He later announced that courts had said cease-and-desist letter copyrights were acceptable, even though that turned out to be quite an exaggeration of what had actually happened.
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.
Update: In the comments, someone points out that the entire lawsuit filing is available on Dozier’s website. Amusingly, it actually quotes one of RJR’s comments here on Techdirt (though, the lawsuit doesn’t mention where it’s from). Basically, I stand by what I said originally. While Dozier does a good job outlining RJR’s history and pattern of lies and mistruths, his ability to either make up organizations or surreptitiously recreate defunct organizations that had a good reputation, there’s little in there that appears to be illegal. The only actual charges seem to be from highly questionable claims that RJR somehow infringes on Dozier’s trademarks.