Monday, March 30, 2009

Warning! Michael Robertson Could Sue You For Your Blog!

This week, Michael Robertson took his next step in trying to suppress my blog and stifle my freedom of speech. Today I received his request for documents in his frivolous Freespire trademark lawsuit against me.

Robertson's case has absolutely no merit, yet he's spending thousands of dollars in attorney fees trying to shut down There is no reasonable upside to Robertson in this lawsuit, other than to try and take down, a site which calls into question Robertson's business practices. The sites encourages would-be customers, partners, investors and employees to talk with others who have had prior dealings with Robertson BEFORE deciding if they want to be involved with him.

To see the frivolity in Robertson's attacks on me in this lawsuit, consider the following...

1. To this day, Linspire, Inc. has never even had a registered trademark for the term Freespire.

2. When I was CEO for Linspire, Inc., I filed for a trademark for the term Freespire in April of 2006. However, after I left Linspire (July 2007), the company discontinued pursuing the application and the application was abandoned on January 14, 2008.

3. In January 2008, Linspire was given the opportunity to acquire the domain name, but they declined.

4. AFTER their trademark had been abandoned and Linspire had declined to acquire the domain name, I THEN acquired the domain name. Since then, I have used the site for various things, but mostly to link to my blog about Michael Robertson's despicable behavior, particularly in two areas:

a. How he tried to have several former employees arrested by the San Diego Police Department. He told the police that funds these employees had been paid for severance had been "embezzled" by them. (Fortunately the police and the courts saw through the nonsense and tossed this out.) These were all very good, long-term employees who had served Linspire faithfully for many years, and this was the thanks they got from Robertson--threats, harassment, intimidation, and lawsuits. (Knowing this, why would anyone ever want to go to work for such a person?)

b. How Robertson refused to explain to the 100-some-odd Linspire shareholders what happened with the millions of dollars in cash that Linspire had. It's now been nearly a year since Robertson sold off the Linspire assets in a back-room deal and the shareholders have yet to be given ANY accounting of what happened. (Knowing this, why would anyone ever invest in Robertson?)

Would you want to work for Michael Robertson
and run the risk of being called an embezzler?

5. Only AFTER Robertson found out I was using Freespire to shed light on his greedy deeds, did Linspire THEN file again for a trademark for Freespire, which still has never been granted a registration.

6. Given the nature of the content I put on the site, obviously there was never any confusion that my site was affiliated with Linspire or the Freespire operating system.

7. Because Freespire never had much traffic, the site has had virtually NO traffic.

8. Robertson sold off Linspire, but he went out of his way to keep the right to sue me for the Freespire trademark (which they never even had).

9. As anyone can see, the site is noncommercial. I don't sell or advertise anything on the site.

10. Not one time did Linspire reach out with any sort of communication to me or the website. No letters, no email, just straight to the lawsuit.

11. To this day, no one at Xandros (the people who now own the Freespire OS and have the PENDING trademark application on file) has ever contacted me or the website, or complained in any way about the site. If having the website up is so damaging, why wouldn't XANDROS be suing me? (Perhaps Xandros understands the concept of Freedom of Speech better than Robertson.)

So, in considering all these things, it's pretty clear that there was no confusion, there were no damages, and there's no upside for Robertson in this, so it obvious to me that this is all about Robertson trying to keep me quiet.

If you want to see just how desperate Robertson is to stop, here's the stuff he's requesting as part of this "trademark" lawsuit. (You can also click here for the entire request in pdf format.) To me it's pretty obvious what he's after (besides his normal bury-them-in-discovery nonsense), and that's to make sure the world doesn't find out what he's really like. For example, be sure and check out #6.

I have no intention of ever keeping quiet. People should know the truth about Robertson. Work for him, and run the risk of being called an embezzler. Invest in him, and get left in the dark. Write a blog about him, and well, you just might get sued.

I rightfully acquired the domain name, and I have a right to express my feelings there. Last time I checked, freedom of speech was still part of America, as much as Robertson would apparently like to change that.



Tom said...

I agree, knowing all of this, who would ever want to work for this jerk?

Sdlite said...

Sounds like Robertson doesn't have any case at all. He's just one of those who loves to dish it out, but can't take it. Seems he's doing more harm to his reputation by making a big deal out of this. Just shows what he's like, not cool.

Anonymous said...

You should win this easily. The fact that your site isn't commercial and you're simply using it to express your opinion about Freespire and Michael Robertson (or anything else for that matter) will be protected by the first amendment. There's certainly no confusion in play.

I agree, this just makes Robertson look like a cry baby with money to try and force you to stop by using legal bills. Fortunately, I don't think you'll run up much of a legal bill, as this seems to be a slam dunk case in your favor.

Scott said...

One word for Robertson: Jerk

Larry said...


Since this is such a frivolous matter, you may be able to turn the tables on MR with a, "cease & desist," motion for harassment right in there in the courtroom (should it go that far).

It's quite shameful how some people use the courts to bully & scare others they cannot or will not confront in an adult manner & fashion. They use the system to force others to waste time and money just to be mean.

However, keep in mind that small-minded people hate to lose anything, no matter how trivial. By winning, you'd enrage a personality such as his.

Maybe Michael wasn't hugged enough as a child. But then, perhaps when Michael returned the hugs, he'd pick their back pockets and relatives grew wary.

And he does seem to pick the pockets of all he comes into contact with, one way or another.

Good luck and thanks for taking the time to keep us updated.


Kevin Carmony said...


Me and some of the other executives at Linspire had a saying, "In any situation, take the most logical thing to do, and that's what Michael WON'T do." Pursuing this makes no sense at all, but then, that's exactly why Robertson will do it. He's not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Yes, Robertson is the classic picked on kid growing up that now wants to extract his revenge on everyone around him.


Andy said...

What I wonder is: If what Mr. Robertson did was illegal why does no one arrest him or file criminal charges?

Kevin Carmony said...

He has been sued by a shareholder. There is a lawsuit in the courts right now over the missing cash. You can read about it in my blog.


John said...

I'm just pleased that you have the freedom of speech to do this Kevin.

In the UK our Libel laws favour the rich. It's a tool to stifle free speech.

Let me give you an example. In the UK if Robertson sued you the burden would be on YOU to prove that every single thing you said was true. If you couldn't prove it, but it was an opinion formed based on the evidence, he wins and not only is the site shut down, but you also have to pay him damages.

However, if your site just basically called him names and just directed foul and abusive language in his direction, that's not actionable at all. That's UK libel law for you!

Slightly off topic, but I have a business idea buzzing around my head that I have no idea how to implement. I was thinking the other day, if I wanted to set up a blog where I targeted political corruption, spin, and people like Robertson, how could I do it and protect my identity?

The standard method would be something like GoDaddy's Domains By Proxy, yet for your money all you get is a private whois listing. If someone in the UK objected to what I wrote and wanted to go after me, all it would take is a threatning phone call or e-mail, and DBP would give out my name and address in a heartbeat, as they have done to others in the past.

If I use a free blogger or account then that's only a threatening e-mail or (easily obtained in the UK) search order away from my IP address and thus my identity being revealed. In fact, Google has previously revealed the identity of an Israeli blogger based on an Israeli court order despite the blog being hosted in the states!

So as it stands, there is currently no way to buy a domain name and blog, and have your identity protected against frivolous threats. Well I suppose there is one way, but that involves you paying some shady company in somewhere like Antigua, and they end up owning the domain name.

I don't think anyone's unreasonable. No-one expects to pay say $50 a year and have the privacy company rack up thousands and thousands of $'s in the legal costs of protecting a customers identity through the courts. However, I do expect the privacy company to require a valid US subpoena before my identity is revealed, and to try and quash it with an initial challenge (with the customer being required to pay say 50% of the costs of quashing it should someone actually go to the trouble of getting one.)

No service that will stand up for you like that currently exists, and personally I think one is very much needed. I can only imagine the number of people who would want a service that tries to protect them like that!

Sorry for the off topic Kevin, you just gave me an idea and I thought i'd share!

Good luck taking on Robertson. The guy sounds like a real piece of work!

- John

Kevin Carmony said...


I think the laws here in the US are pretty on balance. For example, you don't want to lose a lawsuit where you are in fact simply using your freedom of expression to say how you feel about someone, or for sharing true facts. However, you also don't want others to be able to be able to spout off untruths about you publicly. I've been on both ends. It's pretty obvious to anyone who reads my blog that I personally feel Robertson is extremely unethical. That's my opinion after having worked closely with him for many years. Fortunately, here in the US, my opinion is protected by my freedom of speech. Anything above and beyond my opinion expressed here I make sure is true and accurate. I think Robertson is a greedy, dishonest, spineless coward. I am free to express that opinion. If I choose to explain my opinion, I can share facts, such as linking to court filings, documents, etc.

I've also, however, been on the receiving end where someone publicly posted on the Internet (Wikipedia) that I stole money from Linspire, which is ridiculous. My Lawyers are in the process of getting a court order to find out who posted that via their IP information, as that is libel here in the US if it's not true. So yes, the person who posted that will be required in court to prove that what he said is true.

So, here in the US I don't think the courts are designed to favor the rich or the non-rich, but to favor the truth and/or your opinion.

I'm not sure how to try to be completely anonymous on the net. My best advice there would be to only do something that you're prepared to defend yourself in court with.

Just like with the Freespire sillyness, anyone can sue anyone for anything, but at least make sure you'll win that suit. So, my advice, just don't do anything you can't 1) afford to defend yourself in court from, and 2) will win.

I've never sued anyone in my life. I have, however, been sued, but I've never lost. Just stay on the right side of the law, that's the only advice I can give you.


John said...

That is good advice Kevin, but the problem we have in the UK is that being right is irrelevant.

In fact, we have a problem with "libel tourism", where people will sue each other in our courts, despite the fact that they both come from different countries. Seriously!

I remember reading that after a particularly pathetic lawsuit between a celebrity and a New York publisher I think it was, for defamation in a book that was never actually published in the UK, New York has passed a shield law that protects it's citizens from Libel judgements of foreign courts.

It really is pathetic. Jurisdiction arguments are successful based on flimsy arguments, what constitutes libel and defamation and the burden of proof is heavily weighted in favour of the complainant, and the costs are totally disproportionate.

I'll give you a fictitious example. You are a successful lobbyist say, so only well known in certain political circles and not to the general public. You're very comfortable financially, although there are certain rumours about how legitimate the qualifications you claim to have are.

Me, i'll play the part of a politics student with a blogger account, who after hearing the rumours decides to make some phone calls. I discover that the institutions on your web bio have no record of you graduating, and after e-mailing someone from the year you claimed to go there, they tell me you only stayed for the first 3 weeks and then left.

Buzzing with excitement, I tell the whole sorry tale on my blog, so if anyone searches for you on google, my blogpost on your fake qualifications is in the top 10 hits.

You call a lawyer, and he obtains my IP address through a ridiculously easily obtained court order served on Google, my ISP is then served with a just as easily obtained search order, and they link that ISP to me, and then court papers are served on me.

Now the problem begins. If I do nothing, you'll get a summery judgement, and i'm screwed. If I decide not to get a lawyer and defend myself, it will be a long and drawn out process, and you'll win because libel law in the UK is overly technical. So, I need to call a lawyer.

UK lawyers don't take libel cases on contingency, and in fact the whole process of contingencies is barely legal except in limited circumstances. So i'll be told that I have an excellent chance of winning, but it will be a long drawn out process, which i'll have to pay for up front, and then i'll get that money and damages back in the end when/if I win.

Small problem. I'm a student. I don't have something like $50,000 or more depending on the delaying tactics of your lawyers, to defend the case.

So despite being right, I have no means of defending it. If I defend myself in court I will still have to contribute to court fees, and losing would leave me ruined, plus I don't have the time.

So I contact your legal team, and you agree that you'll drop the whole thing if I take down my whole blog and never mention anything about you again.

So basically starting proceedings is all you need, as 9 times out of 10 the other party won't be able to afford to defend them, and even if they can, who wants to throw around tens of thousands on a lawsuit when both parties dropping it is so much cheaper?

The UK is really awful in this regard. Robertson would LOVE it here. He could litigate until his heart's content, and unless he was dealing with people with as much money as him, they'd almost always recant or delete the offending material.

How different is it in the states? Are there thousands and thousands of $'s of up front payments over there?

Cheers Kevin!

- John

Matt said...

I worked for one of Robertson's companies. He's very unstable. I'd never work for him again, nor would anyone else I know who has worked for him. Those of us who know him personally know what he's really like. Thanks Kevin for continuing to expose the real Michael Robertson.


Anonymous said...

Robertson is scum.

Anonymous said...

I worked for Robertson but quit after I saw how he treated others. He's a very evil person. Stay far away from this man.