Monday, October 27, 2008

Michael Robertson Sues Me to Impede My Freedom of Speech on the Internet

As many of you know, I have used my blog as a resource to bring to light the questionable actions of Michael Robertson, and to go public with his treatment of employees and shareholders. Today I was served with a lawsuit by Michael Robertson in an effort to obscure my blog and impede my freedom of speech. I have to say that I wasn't surprised to learn that Michael would use a frivolous lawsuit to threaten and silence me, but it won't work. I will not let Robertson bully or intimidate me with this or any other nuisance suit. Such lawsuits only serve to shed further light on his unscrupulous tactics.

Michael Robertson--No Champion of the 1st Amendment

Robertson, unhappy about my blog, sues me

The Internet has become a bastion of free speech for bloggers. Robertson, who claims to be a strong supporter for such rights, seems to feel quite differently when that speech is critical of him.

You see, just as the Internet is a marvelous vehicle for companies to promote their goods and services, it can be an equally effective tool for dissatisfied customers or disgruntled employees and shareholders to criticize a particular product, company or management team. Much to the chagrin of trademark owners, such "gripe sites" (which often include the company name or trademark in the URL), are very difficult, if not impossible, to shut down. Fortunately, the First Amendment typically shields the operators of corporate gripe sites from liability. If the gripe site is non-commercial in nature, the operator's freedom of speech will generally override the trademark owner's interest in controlling the use of its company name or trademark, as it should.

Freedom of Speech on Freespire.com

Earlier this year, Linspire was given the opportunity to purchase the domain name Freespire.com. They declined. When I was CEO, I spearheaded the Freespire project, but I was unable to obtain the freespire DOT COM domain name, so we did everything at freespire DOT ORG. We tried incessantly to obtain the .com domain, but the owner would never sell it to us. So you can imagine my surprise when earlier this year, the owner finally agreed to sell the domain and it was offered to Linspire, but they declined to acquire it. (I think that also sums up the commitment Linspire had to Freespire.) So, around eight months ago, only AFTER Linspire declined to purchase the freespire.com domain name, I decided to acquire it as a non-commercial opinion site to share my views about Linspire, Freespire and desktop Linux in general.

It had been over six months since I had left Linspire, and I had become increasingly disappointed with its management and decided to use Freespire.com to vent that dissatisfaction. I had certainly been observing the downfall of the company, and by this time I had learned about Robertson having filed false claims against several executives, calling severance payments "embezzlement," and I wanted a venue to express my displeasure. For me, the writing was on the wall that Robertson was destroying the company. (Just a few months later the company was gone and the shareholders remain in the dark.)

At the freespire.com site, I praised the good work other distributions were doing with Linux (Ubuntu, Mint, Nimblex, etc.), expressed dissatisfaction with Linspire/Freespire, and linked to my blog. At no time have I ever sold any of these distributions or had a financial stake in them. I was merely exercising my freedom of speech.

So, today, Michael Robertson (via the now-defunct Linspire shell company "Digital Cornerstone") sued me for "cybersquatting, trademark infringement, and unfair competition," claiming that the freespire.com "gripe" site should be taken down and seeking $100,000 and other damages.

First, I'm a little confused how Robertson is suing me for trademark infringement, considering there is no registered trademark for "Freespire." (Linspire filed for one but never actually got it registered and all the Linspire IP went to Xandros months ago.)

My freespire.com site never sold anything. It never used the Freespire logo or even used the Freespire name in large fonts or type. There was certainly no confusion, as it was quite clear this site wasn't Linspire's site. In fact, there was even a disclaimer stating the fact that the site was not owned by or affiliated with Linspire or the Freespire distro in anyway.

Companies hate "gripe sites," but consumers appreciate
them and the First Amendment Protects Them

As I pointed out earlier, it's rare that a non-commercial blog or opinion site is found to be cybersquating or violating trademarks, as they are protected by the First Amendment. And it's extremely rare for monetary damages to be awarded in a cybersquating case, particularly one as non-consequential as this one. (The freespire.com domain only got around 100 hits per day, and even fewer today. See the Alexa graph at the end of this blog.) Yet Robertson is seeking $100,000 in damages? Linspire never complained or objected about the site, even though there was a clear contact link for the site's webmaster on every page. No cease and desist letter was ever mailed. They never sought relief or arbitration from ICANN. No, instead, in classic Robertson fashion, he headed straight to the court room because this lawsuit is about intimidation and suppressing speech, not about legitimate damages.

The lawsuit even states, "Although the FREESPIRE mark was recently assigned as part of an asset purchase, [Robertson] expressly reserved all rights in and to all claims against Carmony arising from the freespire.com domain name and website." Now, why would Robertson want to carve out that one thing to hang on to? He's no longer involved with Freespire, so why does he care? Is he desperate for money? With Robertson's companies struggling and laying employees off, does anyone really believe this is the most important thing Robertson should be concerning himself with? His motives are pretty transparent--to suppress freedom of expression that is critical of Robertson.

Keep Speech Free at Freespire.com

This is a nuisance lawsuit, intended to silence my freedom of speech. I will defend my right to free speech by continuing to point freespire.com to my blog and keep reporting on Robertson's disturbing actions.

I'll keep you posted on this YARL (Yet Another Robertson Lawsuit).

Kevin

UPDATE: Michael Robertson made a pretty ironical post today on his Michael's Minute. So I made an appropriate response, and it was quickly censored and removed. Below is a screenshot of what it looked like BEFORE my post was censored (click on it to enlarge to read). Michael Robertson is welcome to post here at anytime and I will assure him his non-anonymous comment will be published. As I say, Robertson can dish it, but can't take it. Just more evidence of his desire to squash free speech.

Censorship at MichaelRobertson.com





Penn & Teller on the First Amendment (Explicit Language)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

World's Smallest Political Quiz

Click here to take the World's Smallest Political Quiz and see where you stand.

Here are my results, which might help people understand me and some of my views.


Kevin

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Barack Obama Hides Welfare and Socialism in his "Tax Cut"

Obama "spreading the wealth around."

I have a very good friend who is planning on voting for Barack Obama. Even SHE refused to believe me when I told her that people who pay no income tax (about 40% of Americans) will actually get a check in the mail under Obama's "spread the wealth around" tax plan. I admit it's hard to believe, but quite true.

Read this Wall Street Journal article.

What Obama calls a "tax cut" is really a tax increase, and that tax increase is really a welfare payment to millions.

It's one thing to "tax the rich" to build highways and support our national defense, but when you take money from one group and give it to another, that's WELFARE, and when your government FORCES you to do it, that's SOCIALISM.

I never hear Obama talking about expanding the pie, only about how to slice it. I'm all for helping those in need, but the best way to do that is to grow the economy with LOWER taxes so everyone can have a good job. As pointed out in my last blog, the private sector can do much more to help people than government.

I have been unemployed for the past year as I've been starting a new business, so I have no income. Senator Obama, if elected to President, PLEASE do NOT mail me my welfare check. I prefer to earn a living through work and productivity.

Kevin

Monday, October 20, 2008

John Stossel's "Politically Incorrect Guide to Politics"

John Stossel, one of the few level headed individuals in the media and a fellow Libertarian, has made yet another excellent 20/20 Special. John looks at the fallacies of big government.

I would HIGHLY encourage everyone to watch this entire program BEFORE voting. I'm glad at least someone from the mainstream media is debunking the concept that we should turn to government to solve all our problems.

For your viewing convenience, I've put the entire program below. (Note: If you'd prefer to watch this in a higher resolution directly from the ABC News website, go here.)

PART 1 - False promises from politicians. Spontaneous Order. Central planning and government vs self organization and business.


PART 2 - Housing crises. Regulation vs deregulation. Bailout. Necessity of business failures.


PART 3 - Rebuilding New Orleans. Government vs volunteers and the private sector. Government bureaucracy.


PART 4 - Campaign finance reform. Law of unintended consequences. Using regulation to prevent competition.


PART 5 - Farm subsidies. Job obsolescence. New Zealand eliminates farm subsidies.


PART 6 - People run America, not Government. People bring change, not politicians. Personal responsibility.


BONUS SECTION FROM PREVIOUS WEEK - Should some people not vote?


Kevin

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Michael Robertson Continues His Shell Game with Linspire's Missing Cash

As I mentioned last month, Michael Robertson and Larry Kettler were sued for mismanagement of the now defunct Linspire. Although I am not a party in that lawsuit, it was my hope that it would help shed some light on what happened with the millions of dollars in missing cash and other Linspire assets.

Robertson and Kettler finally responded to the suit, and I got a copy of their response. From what I could see, what they produced did not provide any meaningful data on the missing cash. It appears that Robertson simply dumped on the plaintiff over 200 pages of misc. bank statements (not even covering the full periods from Aug. 1, 2007 to present). They failed to produce any meaningful financial statements, Income Statements, Balance Sheets, closing documents on the Xandros deal, etc. From the mishmash of evidence that was provided, it IS CLEAR there were in fact millions of dollars in cash when Robertson took over as sole Board member just over a year ago, BUT it is still very UNCLEAR where that cash ended up.

Michael Robertson - What is he hiding?

The lack of meaningful financial documents in Robertson's response didn't surprise me in the least. After having worked with Robertson for over six years, I witnessed first hand all of his legal maneuvers and tricks. One of his favorites was to overload opposing counsel with meaningless discovery documents, forcing them to sift through piles of papers to find the needle in the haystack, rather than just producing the documents which clearly show he is in the right. (This is a tactic people often use when they're NOT in the right.)

If Robertson and Kettler had nothing to hide, why wouldn't they provide HELPFUL documents that show EXACTLY what happened with the cash? If there is a good explanation, why wouldn't they simply provide that evidence? What is Robertson hiding?

According to one of the documents, the new Linspire Board was made up of Michael Robertson, his wife Leslie, and Larry Kettler (Robertson's consummate "Yes Man"). Not exactly what you'd call an "independent" board. Also, I'm not sure how Leslie and Larry could be on the board, considering the shareholders were never notified of these changes. The shareholders WERE properly notified when Michael fired all the other board members over a year ago, but have not been notified of any changes since. Again, why hide this?

So, my questions for Michael Robertson are:

1. If the only financial documents you plan on providing in the derivative lawsuit are bank statements, why not provide ALL the bank statements for the periods of August 1, 2007 through the present? (I would suggest to the plaintiff's lawyers that they subpoena the bank statements for the missing periods and START looking there. If Robertson is going to force you to look for the needle in the haystack, at least make sure all the haystack is there.)

2. Why haven't you held a shareholders meeting since taking over exclusive control of the Linspire Board over a year ago?

3. Why after months of you having sold Linspire to Xandros haven't you shared any details of that transaction with the 100-some-odd shareholders?

4. Why haven't you produced any meaningful financial statements, such as Income Statements or Balance Sheets to shareholders or to the plaintiff and lawyers in the derivative lawsuit?

5. Why are you trying to dissolve the corporation so quickly without explaining anything to the shareholders?

6. What happened to all the cash? Did you funnel it to yourself and/or your father-in-law? Did you squander it all in one short year through incompetent management of Linspire?

7. And lastly... When we had to let some very good, committed, long-term employees go at Linspire, you said you wanted to only give them two weeks of severance. I disagreed, and as CEO, I made the decision to give them more reasonable severance packages. You were so greedy and upset with the CEO's decision, that you filed a bogus police report and called them all embezzlers! Your argument for giving these good employees such piddly severance payments was that you wanted to keep as much money in the company as possible, claiming this would be better in the long run for those employees, the shareholders and the Linspire customers. So, my final question for you Michael: How'd your brilliant plan work out for everyone?

Kevin

Saturday, October 11, 2008

"Get a Dog" - My Dog Toby and a Sprinkle Cupcake

My dog's absolute favorite treat in the entire world is a Sprinkles Cupcake. Don't worry, they're made special for dogs. (Oh, and I don't mind them myself, the ones for people that is. =)

Thanks to John Jones for letting me use this song. He's never released it, but he should.

Click below video to play.



Below is a photo of the line I had to wait in for 30 minutes to get my Sprinkles!


But Toby seems to think it was well worth the wait. =)


Kevin

Song "Get a Dog" (C) by John Jones.