The infamous Troll Tracker suit has come to an end. As we reported, Rick Frenkel, the anonymous blogger of the Troll Tracker blog who revealed his identity, along with his employer Cisco, were sued for defamation by two attorneys from Texas, Eric Albritton and T. John “Johnny” Ward, Jr. The lawsuit was over a posting over who filed what when in a lawsuit against Cisco for patent infringement.
East Texas patent litigators Albritton and Ward sued claiming that Frenkel and his former employer Cisco Systems libeled them when Frenkel wrote that the two litigators conspired with a courthouse clerk to change a date on a patent infringement suit filing.
The original post contained a mixture of fact and opinion but it seems that the facts that Frenkel noted were accurate. The filing did originally have the earlier date on it, and the court clerk was later convinced to change it. However, Albritton claims that the post made it look like a criminal conspiracy and said he’d been “hurt” and “humiliated.” Explaining why he didn’t just complain to Frenkel, Ward said, “You don’t wrestle with a snake, you cut its head off.”
After federal district court judge Richard Schell ruled that the jury would have to find “actual malice” on the part of Frenkel and Cisco in order for the plaintiffs to win punitive damages, the the parties involved quickly settled the defamation trial in an undisclosed agreement.
Even though Albritton was not a public figure, he ruled, the “actual malice” standard adopted by the Supreme Court in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan was appropriate because the issues raised in Frenkel’s blog posts were of public concern.
Cisco Systems said that the case had been “resolved to [the parties'] mutual satisfaction, and Rick Frenkel and Cisco apologize for the statements of Rick Frenkel on the Troll Tracker blog regarding Eric M. Albritton.”
Joe Mullin, of IP Law & Business, has been reporting the case blow-by-blow.