Lawyer Asman Drops Lawsuit Against EFF, But Claims That 'Ass man' Comments Are Defamatory

from the digging-different-holes dept

We just recently wrote about a ridiculously bad lawsuit filed on behalf of patent attorney Scott Horstemeyer against the EFF after EFF called his stupid patent "stupid." It appears that Horstemeyer has hopefully come to his senses, as the lawsuit has been dismissed -- though without prejudice, meaning it's still possible he could file it again.

The lawsuit itself was filed by a lawyer named Sanford Asman. And, as Joe Mullin at Ars Technica pointed out, Asman was the same lawyer who, just a couple weeks earlier, had been threatening a small 3 person startup called CaseRails, arguing that it infringed on his trademark for CaseWeb. We had thought about writing about that nutty story at the time, but never got around to it. Suffice it to say, like so many trademark cases, it appeared to be one of massive overreach, where Asman believed that just because he had websites and trademarks for CaseWebs and CaseSpace, other websites/startups using "case" were infringing. From Ars' original coverage:
Asman controls websites and related trademarks for the terms "CaseWebs" and "CaseSpace." CaseWebs.com hosts litigation support software, written by Asman, which organizes a variety of legal documents by case; it's something he uses himself and licenses to other lawyers. The CaseWebs and CaseSpace trademarks are close enough to entitle him to control of CaseRails, he says. In fact, as Asman explained to Ars in an interview, he believes he owns any Web-based legal service that uses the word "case" in its name.

"He called me and we talked for about half an hour about him and his business," Dykema said of his conversation with Asman. "Then he said, 'I'm going to ask you to change your name.' I'm like—what? Then the conversation got really threatening. He said, 'I'm going to sue you, I've sued people before.'"
As the article notes, Asman did, in fact, sue another company called CaseWorks, with CaseWorks giving in and handing over its own domain and trademark. The article is not kind to Asman, but basically uses his own words to hang him:
When I called Asman to ask about his beef with CaseRails, his first question was directed at me.

"How are you even aware of it?" he asked curtly.

Dykema, a longtime Ars reader, had reached out to me, I explained. "Well, I'm sure they told you all kinds of stories," Asman said.

Talking to Asman on the phone is a lot like reading the trademark lawsuit he filed against CaseWorks Web—it involves a lot of listening to his biography. His CaseWorks lawsuit, filed in 2009, includes 15 pages of background description on Asman and describes in detail how his CaseWebs software works. Asman has a computer science degree from MIT and has been practicing law for 43 years. He first started developing legal software in 1977.
Oh, and then there's this lovely tidbit, in which Mullin tries to explain to Asman why he's probably wrong that any company with "case" in its name infringes:

Since "case" alone is often used as a synonym for "lawsuit," I pointed out to Asman that there are numerous online legal services that use "case" as part of their name.

"Like what?" he asked.

I pointed out a few I had found, such as CaseFlex and CaseLoop. Asman didn't respond immediately—he was taking notes.

"Thank you for bringing them to my attention," he said. "I may decide to take action against one or both of them."

Seems like such a great guy.

Anyway... that brings us to the latest. In which Asman did go forward with his threat to sue CaseRails and the filing makes for some crazy reading. Asman is representing himself pro se, which should already be a warning sign.

As with Mullin's description of that last lawsuit against CaseWorks, this latest lawsuit contains pages and pages of background on Asman himself -- including arguing that he developed legal software "likely before [CaseRails founders] were even born." And then goes on to more or less insist that only he can use "case" and another term when offering any kind of legal software -- something that is a very... interesting... interpretation of trademark law.

The lawsuit lays out all the typical trademark infringement claims (all of which seem like a longshot in my opinion), but then adds a defamation claim because of the Ars article... and comments on the article that made fun of Asman by calling him "Ass man.":
Notwithstanding the fact that the Cease and Desist Letter was a private communication between Asman, on one hand, and Defendants Dykema, Zeller, and CaseRails, on the other hand, on information and belief Dykema disclosed such communication to an online “blog” site at http://www.arstechnica.com, and he encouraged that website to publish derogatory comments as to Asman, and such publication did, in fact, take place, whereby, inter alia, (1) Asman was referred to as “Ass man”; (2) one of the readers of the blog apparently registered the domain “sanfordasman.com” and is using it to link to another website (namely, “The Scuzz Feed” which appears under the url, “sanfordasman.com”) that Asman does not sponsor or endorse.
Yikes. First off, the fact that the cease and desist was "private" is meaningless. CaseRails has every right in the world to pass that on to the media. Second, you'll note that Asman identifies no actual statements of fact that are defamatory. The best he gets is an insane stretch that because CaseRails passed on the threat letter to Ars and because Ars wrote an article that resulted in defamatory comments. But even if there were defamatory comments, there's no way that the liability would fall on CaseRails (or Ars Technica for that matter, which Asman has not yet tried to sue).

Asman tries to get around the fact that there's simply no way to blame CaseRails by arguing that because one of CaseRails founders is a "media" expert, he "knew" what would happen:
On information and belief Dyksema is, or has been, and adjunct professor of “Media Law” at New York University, whereby he had, or should have had, knowledge as to the way that viewers of websites such as arstechnica.com would react and comment when a “slanted” article was published.

It is apparent from the Server Logs of the casewebs.com and casespace.com websites that there were numerous (unsuccessful) attempts to infiltrate those websites upon the publication of the “article” induced by Dykema.

All of the foregoing demonstrate that Dykema, an authority on “media” knew, or should have known, that his actions in providing information, including false quotes attributed to Asman, to arstechnica.com would, and did, in fact, result in unwarranted harassment of Asman, as well as the aforementioned attempts to breach the security of Asman’s websites.
This is an even more ridiculous defamation and harassment argument than the one Asman came up with in the lawsuit against EFF. And, of course, in making these arguments, he's just drawing a lot more attention to himself and the fact that some sophomoric commenter referred to him as Ass man.

Asman also thinks there's some "conspiracy" because CaseRails refers to itself as CaseRails even though the official legal entity is DocRails, as if he's never come across companies using names other than their registered names as their company identities (hint: this is very, very, very common).

Anyway, this lawsuit seems ridiculous and only serves to draw that much more attention to Asman's nutty arguments and bullying. Oh, and as for him getting so upset about a commenter calling him "ass man," perhaps he should -- like Kramer -- learn to embrace it.

Filed Under: ass man, caserails, caseworks, defamation, sanford asman, scott horstemeyer, streisand effect, trademark
Companies: caserails, eff


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  • identicon
    Techdirt Lite, 5 Jun 2015 @ 7:47pm

    MASSnick.

    Now that's funny, innit?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    VPJ, 5 Jun 2015 @ 8:06pm

    Dumbassman .

    Hey, it's late. I'll take the easy ones.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2015 @ 8:11pm

    "sophomoric commenter"

    I believe you meant to say "Shakespearean-esque commenter."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Agonistes (profile), 5 Jun 2015 @ 8:18pm

    Is this THE Dr. Assman of Kramerica Industries, AKA DR. Martin van Nostrand AKA H.E. Pennypacker?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2015 @ 8:57pm

    Could be worse

    At least his first name isn't Jack.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2015 @ 9:10pm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Giuseppe Cerrato (profile), 7 Sep 2015 @ 4:39am

      Re:

      The link goes through bit.ly to
      "a round tuit - Google (image) Search".
      Cute it is.
      But what contribution to the conversation is it?
      Please assist me in understanding
      why it is not simply juvenile!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2015 @ 9:12pm

    "from the digging-different-a-holes dept"

    There, FIFY.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Jun 2015 @ 9:16pm

    hes an ass man

    mr ass needs to get a hobby

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 1:09am

      Re: hes an ass man

      And his beef is with "ass technica". Maybe he should sue them for infringement of defamation.*

      The semicomedic/semitragic nature of that particular part of the cases shows the core problem pretty well.

      * Disclaimer: This commenter do not endorse or encourage defamatory statements as factual statements. Any offensive content in this comment is purely for parody and/or comedic effects and doesn't constitute an opinion or endorsement of such. This disclaimer is made as a comment on the context of defamation and the underlying legal and cultural problem.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    radarmonkey (profile), 5 Jun 2015 @ 9:51pm

    I wanted to post something with a Beavis/Butthead theme, but felt that was too obvious. So, I'll go with this regarding "Ass man" ....


    Damn Autocorrect!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Andrew (profile), 5 Jun 2015 @ 10:21pm

    I remember the stuff in paragraph 20

    the TRS-80, and the daisywheel printer, and the wordprocessing...
    Did it myself on my TRS-80 system, except I used a Juki wide-format daisywheel printer, and a combination of telewriter and DRS.


    Would it impact the important statement of competence Asman's going for if I were to note that I was 6-7 at the time.

    Wonder if I should make the 50min drive to the courtroom to see the case...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DB (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 12:23am

    I'm a little curious about his credentials and timeline, if anyone is interested in looking into it.

    He claims a CS degree from MIT. He has been practicing law for 43 years, presumably continuously. But MIT granted their first regular CS degree in 1975, only 40 years ago. That was the same year that they added 'Computer Science' to the department name, reflecting the new curriculum.

    As a lawyer, he knows that it's generally not illegal to make false claims about education, military service or the like. And he seems to be following the guideline "if it's not specifically illegal, it's not unethical".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 7 Jun 2015 @ 4:24pm

      Re:

      He claims a CS degree from MIT. He has been practicing law for 43 years, presumably continuously. But MIT granted their first regular CS degree in 1975, only 40 years ago.

      Technically nothing contradictory there, he could have either taken a break from law, or gone to school in CS part-time and practiced law part-time.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        DB (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:18am

        Re: Re: MIT CS degree?

        It appears that he was at MIT in the 1960s -- well before they offered a CS degree.
        His claim to have a "CS degree from MIT" appears to be false.

        It's a minor point. Lots of people take an extension course offered by a well-known university and deliberately use it out of context "e.g. studied at Harvard". It does however, point out he is very willing to mis-state the situation, and apparently the law.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 8 Jun 2015 @ 11:20am

          Re: Re: Re: MIT CS degree?

          I think that you're assuming quite a lot in order to make this accusation. Your accusation may be correct -- I don't know -- but the evidence you're presenting is pretty weak and circumstantial. There are a number of ways that what he said could be true despite it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    G Thompson (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 12:30am

    Calling this lawyer an Ass Man is incorrect..

    By his very acts and nature he is no man.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 1:06am

    So the one case I know the one lawsuit was against caseworks web while he was case web. He probably got that because the only difference was works being added to the mix, a little dubious. But I guess he took that as a sign that any use of case was his. God complex much?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Espryon (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 2:39am

    H/o one sec... I gotta finish lmfao'd, he took notes. Mike man, you aren't supposed to feed the trolls but, that was pretty awesome how you trolled him. Haven't you heard of dftt? Anyway interesting article and sad to see the number of copyright trolls growing in the US because of the inaction of the federal government to put forth any meaningful legislation regarding copyright, trademark, and patent law.

    my two cents,

    -3spryon

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldGeezer (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 3:05am

    Does he want us to believe with that name that this is the first time he has been called ass man? I'm guessing form about the 6th grade on that is about all he was called. Still quite fitting for someone claiming his credentials and making such ridiculous arguments.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 6 Jun 2015 @ 6:34am

    I think he got ass-hurt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 6:43am

    A lawsuit waiting to happen

    Oh, man... Well, CaseRails WAS going to let the trademark suit slide. Now? They're already involved on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Is there any remaining reason that they would not go on to press the trademark issue, since they are in court anyway?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    gorehound (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 7:04am

    Assman ..............guess he got a brown nose out of this fiasco.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    madasahatter (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 7:33am

    Who is going to sue

    The comments on Arstechnica are made by individuals who are not employees. So he would have to sue each "defamer" individually. With the name Asman, the puns are coming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 8:51am

    ass man may be defamatory

    but odds are isn't worth much more than:

    "We shouldn't have called you Ass Man Asman."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    x, 6 Jun 2015 @ 10:40am

    Assman is going to get his ass handed to him.

    Any company who is victimized by this moron's stupidity should sue him for damages.

    His ass is about to be in deep shit, lol.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 11:06am

    I wouldn't be surprised if this thin-skinned Asman was picked on over his name way back in elementary school and later earned a legal degree to extract revenge someday.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 11:11am

    Assman should make sure to put this in his resume. It will get him lots of clients. It's like a 5 star review, except by himself

    "I've sued people before."
    -Assman

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 11:44am

    How long before he sues Buttman over his porn career? Assman, Buttman, sounds about the same, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 4:37am

      Re:

      As the both have -man at the end that seems about right in his venue. No one with case or man should be safe from him.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 12:22pm

    to check his site connection from a Linux machine does he have to finger asman.com?

    He's really playing into the Assman name by being so closed-minded that the judge will tell him to pucker up when awarding costs against him.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 12:34pm

    I wonder how people tried to hack Assman's websites?
    Did they check if they could enter by the back door? :)

    Because this case is on the rim of being frivolous, I'm sure the judge will ream him out and he'll retire to the shadows to lick his wounds.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 6 Jun 2015 @ 12:45pm

    In other news

    Mr. Glascock can once again teach grade school without fear.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jun 2015 @ 5:55pm

    Well, Mr. AssMan, if you'd like to not be called AssMan, maybe you should try being less of an ass, man.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    imzitours, 8 Jun 2015 @ 5:33am

    ass man may be fefamatory

    it's unlikely

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Jun 2015 @ 6:17am

    I'm all for renaming the "Streisand Effect" to the "Ass Man Effect."

    FFS, when will these people ever learn?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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