Media & Communications Law

Lawyer who sued Gawker for Hulk Hogan now represents Melania Trump and claimed email inventor

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The California lawyer who represented Hulk Hogan in his successful privacy suit against Gawker is now filing libel suits on behalf of Melania Trump and the man who claims he invented email.

The latest suit filed by lawyer Charles Harder claims TechDirt libeled proclaimed email inventor Shiva Ayyadurai in articles calling him “the fake inventor of email” and the “guy who pretended to invent email,” report (sub. req.), Fortune and the Hollywood Reporter. The suit (PDF), filed in Boston federal court, seeks $15 million.

Ayyadurai says he invented email as a teenager in 1978 and registered the copyright on his email program in the 1980s. The TechDirt article said the copyright was on specific source code rather than the idea of email, and email had been invented before 1978.

In November, Gawker agreed to pay at least $31 million to settle Harder’s suit after jurors awarded Hulk Hogan $140 million.

Harder has also filed a libel suit against the parent company of the Daily Mail for an article entitled “Naked photoshoots, and troubling questions about visas that won’t go away: The VERY racy past of Donald Trump’s Slovenian wife.” The article referenced a Slovenian magazine story that claimed Melania Trump’s modeling agency also operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients, according to the complaint (PDF) and a story by the Hollywood Reporter.

Melania Trump’s suit says she did legal modeling work for legitimate business entities, and “was not a sex worker, escort or prostitute in any way, shape or form.”

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