A libel claim on the part of Shiva Ayyadurai, the self-identified “inventor of email”, was tossed out by a Massachusetts judge today, concluding a baseless suit filed against Techdirt back in January. According to the site, the judge also “rejected Ayyadurai’s request to file an amended complaint”.
Ayyadurai — a Trump booster and US Senate hopeful running with a race-baiting campaign hashtag — has long and loudly sought credit for electronic mail, at times by muffling competing, fact-based narratives through frivolous lawsuits. The latest suit took aim at Techdirt founder Mike Masnick over a 2014 blog post entitled “Why Is Huffington Post Running A Multi-Part Series To Promote The Lies Of A Guy Who Pretended To Invent Email?” and sought an award of $US15 million ($19 million) in punitive damages, an amount likely to bankrupt the site. (Disclosure: Gawker Media, the former owner of Gizmodo, was likewise sued by Ayyadurai. The Gawker estate settled with Ayyadurai for $US750,000 [$938,396].)
Judge Frank Dennis Saylor IV dismissed the suit for “failure to state a claim” on Ayyadurai’s part. A sensible conclusion, as nearly everyone but Ayyadurai points to technologist Ray Tomlinson as the inventor of email.
Though nowhere to the tune of $US15 million ($19 million), winning this farce likely did not come cheap for Masnick. As Law360 reporter Brian Amaral notes, Techdirt won the suit but Judge Sayer refused to toss out the case on anti-SLAPP grounds, which would have allowed Techdirt to recover legal fees.
Congratulations to Techdirt, and Mr Ayyadurai, we look forward to your handed defeat by Elizabeth Warren next year.
In a blog post on Techdirt, Masnick applauded the decision, calling it a “a big win for the First Amendment and free speech”. Gizmodo reached out to Ayyadurai for comment but had not heard back at time of writing. You can read the full ruling here.