Internet Law

Viatical Company Drops Suit Against ‘Twittersquatter’

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A company that sued a so-called Twittersquatter for using its name to post sarcastic tweets has dropped its legal effort.

Coventry First dropped the suit late Tuesday, according to Public Citizen’s Consumer Law & Policy Blog. Public Citizen had defended the anonymous person who used the @coventryfirst handle. (The author later changed the handle to @coventryfirstin and added disclaimers.)

Coventry First buys life insurance policies and resells them to investors who cover the premiums until the insured dies. The Twitter author had applauded early deaths (which lead to greater investor profits) in veiled criticism of the industry. Coventry First’s suit against the writer had alleged trademark infringement and violations of cybersquatting laws.

Public Citizen maintained in a memo supporting a motion to quash that Coventry erred when it served a subpoena on Twitter to learn the defendant’s identity without first filing a motion for leave to take early discovery. The subpoena was filed “in flagrant violation” of federal rules, the memo said. Public Citizen also claimed Coventry failed to allege a commercial use of its trademark to justify the suit.

Cozen O’Connor represented Coventry. The company dropped the suit after it learned that the Twitter author was not a competitor, according to partner Camille Miller, chairperson of the firm’s intellectual property practice group.

“Since we learned via counsel representation that it was not a competitor behind the blog, we withdrew our subpoena to Twitter and dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice,” Miller writes in an email to the ABA Journal. “We disagree on the timing of the subpoena as we accomplished our goal of learning whether the blogger was a competitor.”

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