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Frivolous Lawsuit / Real Life

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  • The band The Romantics vs. Activision because "the cover band in Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s sounds too good". The case got thrown out by the judge.
  • Since the late 1990s, Harry Potter has been the subject of several frivolous copyright lawsuits, against both creator J. K. Rowling and Warner Bros. who owns the film rights and shares some of the intellectual property with Rowling.
    • Nancy Stouffer, author of The Legend of Rah and the Muggles, who sued Rowling in 1999 for "plagiarism", because among other things, Rowling used her "Muggles", even though Stouffer's alien Teletubby-like goblins had nothing to do with Rowling's normal humans (and weren't actually called muggles; that was something Stouffer made up to increase her chances of winning) and the word 'muggle' already existed as a somewhat antiquated term for 'dullard'. Ultimately, they dropped the case as fast as it came. Hoping to cash in on No Such Thing as Bad Publicity, a small-time publisher picked the vanity-published original and did a small printing run of Stouffer's book in 2001 - and folded barely a year later.
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    • In 2005, an obscure Canadian folk band named the Wyrd Sisters sued Warner Bros. and members of Pulp and Radiohead over the Weird Sisters band in the film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, claiming that Warner Bros. legal department wrote to them, asking them to sign an agreement regarding the fictional group's name in exchange for (initially) CAN$50,000, and the idea had to be scrapped. The band even tried to block the film's Canadian release. Ultimately, the lawsuit went nowhere and was settled circa March 2010. Members of the Harry Potter fandom went on the attack against Wyrd Sisters, pointing out that references to Weird Sisters or Wyrd Sisters go back centuries, including three characters in Shakespeare's MacBeth.
    • In 2009, Rowling and her US and UK publishers were sued for plagiarism by the estate of a writer named Adrian Jacobs. They claimed that Goblet of Fire ripped off his 1987 novel, Adventures of Willy the Wizard: Livid Land because both had a competition among Wizards. The case was dismissed in both countries in 2011 and the estate was ordered to pay everyone’s legal bills.
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  • In the music world, the incident of Versailles (a US solo act) vs. Versailles (a Japanese band that predated her by years). Both are, of course, named after a French city that predates them by centuries. The US artist freaked at the thought that the Japanese band was "stealing" Google searches from her, didn't trademark the name until after she'd found out about their existence, and tried to sue them to keep them from ever playing in the United States. The band eventually changed their name to "Versailles Philharmonic Quintet" for their US releases and performances, although they continue to go by simply "Versailles" everywhere else.
  • Hiroshi Matsumoto, brother of the late Hideto Matsumoto (better known simply as "hide"), filed one of these against Yoshiki Hayashi of X Japan for using hide's image in X Japan. Never mind that X Japan had been the band hide had been with the longest (from 1987 to 1997), and where he had first earned widespread fame. The judge threw out the lawsuit with prejudice around a month after its filing, actually calling it a frivolous lawsuit in the brief.
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  • A shining example. In retaliation for bad customer service, as delivered by a "Spanish woman", a man attempted to sue the Bank of America for "1,784 billion, trillion dollars". (Read: More money than actually exists.)
  • Due to a clerical error, Bank of America once tried to foreclose on a home owned by a family who had paid for it in full up front, and had no mortgage or account with them. Despite the fact that they had no legal right to the house whatsoever, the Bank still took it to court. The judge immediately threw it out and ordered the bank to pay the family's legal fees of $2,500. When they didn't, the family obtained a writ of execution and levied upon the bank branch that sued them. The levy meant that the family could take any of the bank's property up to the amount of their judgment, including computers, furniture, and money from the safe. Once the family showed up at the bank branch with police officers and an attorney who were ready to collect, Bank of America finally acknowledged that the lawsuit was a mistake and immediately paid.
  • The Church of Scientology, every time you say anything at all that may be criticizing them. Seriously. If what you say is (according to them) false, it's libel or slander (depending on the medium of dissemination). If it's true, and about any of their doctrine, dogma or practices, it's copyright infringement. Other cases, they just dig around until they find something to pick at. No matter how little the chance of you being a threat. They don't do it for the money, they do it to bankrupt their victims with legal fees, thus shutting them up, plus the potential intimidation factor against people who might want to criticize the Church but would rather not risk getting sued to oblivion for doing so (given that they fought the U.S. Government and won).
  • Senator Ernie Chambers, tired of hearing about frivolous lawsuits, decided to make a point and file one of his own... against God. The kicker? Chambers is an atheist.
    • On the other end of the aisle in almost every way: your life sucks? Sue Satan! The "unofficial account" comes from a fictional story and the whole thing reads with such a Deadpan Snarker tone that it's impossible not to laugh. Good luck getting that summons served, as it requires Satan be a resident of the state of Pennsylvania.note  While not binding precedent in Pennsylvania, being a New Hampshire case, the record of Stone v. Scratch may provide some guidance on that count. The judge also notes that the plaintiff neglected to give the court directions on how to serve Satan the complaint. Even if you get past all that, Satan is a lawyer.
  • Jonathan Lee Riches. He's filed thousands of these suits against various celebrities and political figures for questionable reasons, but that's not what pushes him over the edge. No, what pushes him past the Refuge in Audacity line is that his lawsuit against George W. Bush names 783 other defendants, which range from various real-life people to even inanimate objects, including Marco Polo, "various Buddhist Monks", Google, The Da Vinci Code, Norse Gods, Adolf Hitler's National Socialist Party, the Gambino crime family and the Taliban, Mein Kampf, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Garden of Eden, the Ming Dynasty and former planet Pluto. He once sued the Guinness Book of Records for listing him as "the world's most litigious man" (an urban legend going that he did so because the record understated his litigiousness) even though no such record exists.
  • Leo Stoller, a self-styled "intellectual property entrepreneur" (read: con-artist), trademarked such words and phrases as Stealth, Sentra, Dark Star, Air Frame, Stradivarius, Havoc, Chestnut, Trillium, White Line Fever, Fire Power, Love Your Body, Terminator, and many, many more. Once he trademarked a word or phrase, he immediately launched million-dollar lawsuits against people and companies who were casually using those words. His lawsuits have consistently been laughed out of court.
  • Moral Guardian Jack Thompson was infamous for his lawsuits, Courtroom Antics, and legal threats directed at companies ranging from Take-Two Interactive (to attempt to block the sale of Bully) to Nintendo (because a version of Manhunt 2 released on the Wii) to Wendy's (for selling Wii-related toys at one point) to Penny Arcade (for donating to charity in his name after he reneged on a promise) to Wikipedia (claiming information presented about him was incorrect) to Facebook (for not removing malicious posts by users of the service). He was eventually permanently disbarred by the Florida Bar Association, for including gay pornography in one of his court filings, in addition to a lengthy history of abusive personal attacks, frivolous litigation for the purpose of harassment, making false statements, and completely and utterly failing to display regret and remorse or even just admit to wrongdoing.
  • Administrative law judge Roy Pearson sued a small, family-owned laundromat for fifty-four million dollars in damages after they misplaced a pair of his trousers for a day or two. It was finally settled once and for all after roughly four years. He lost, but not before making the life of the laundromat owners thoroughly miserable, even after they made repeated offers to settle for $3000, $4600, and $12000. He's also no longer a judge, thanks in part to this suit.
  • In 2010 San Diego patent lawyer Matthew Pequignot noticed that the patent markings on his Solo cup had expired several years earlier. In response, he sued the company for 11 trillion dollars (over 80% of America's national debt) on behalf of the U.S. government and would've been eligible to receive half of the fine. He lost the case due to being unable to prove that the company intended to deceive the public, and the company claims they didn't immediately replace the molds because each one costs half a million dollars.
    • The ability to do what Pequignot did was ended two years later with the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. Now, only the US government or a competitor who can prove a competitive injury may launch one of these lawsuits (the latter for compensatory damages alone), and marking a product with a patent that formerly covered the product, but has since expired, is no longer a violation.
  • Valery Fabrikant is a man who walked into Concordia University in Montreal and shot many of his colleagues in 1992. During his life sentence, he's become famous for filing these. So many that in 2000, the Quebec Superior Court declared him a vexatious litigant (meaning he needs the approval of a judge to take any legal proceedings against someone else). A bid to clear that status was dismissed by the Court in 2007.
  • In his book Somebody's Gotta Say It, talk show host Neal Boortz related a story from his legal days where a man entered his office and tried to start a lawsuit over a mislabeled beverage can. Boortz's response was "Get the hell out of my office."
  • Disney Theme Parks:
    • Cast members were filming a training film at Disneyland on what to do if there's been an accident. As soon as the actor fell down, a lawyer appeared from among the bystanders encouraging the "injured" man to sue Disneyland and continued to do so after they walked past the camera.
    • At Disneyland, a guest jumped out of his Skyway cabin in an attempt to injure himself and sue the park. Originally claiming that the door on the cabin was faulty and that he fell out, the court became suspicious of the fact that the man conveniently landed in the only tree below the ride that could have broken his fall and saved his life. Although he continued on with his story, after the cabin door was inspected and revealed to be in working order the guest admitted that he had jumped out of the attraction and was goaded into filing a lawsuit by his family. Nevertheless, the park removed the Skyway shortly after the lawsuit was dismissed in case someone decided to try it again.
    • A humorous example is someone claiming that one of the three little pigs sexually harassed her and caused her to gain weight. She was laughed out of court because the costumes were shown as having inoperable stub-arms.
    • Anyone who's worked at Epcot has probably heard the urban legend of the Hydrolator lawsuit at The Living Seas. According to the tale, a woman sued Disney, claiming eardrum damage from the pressure change during her rapid descent in the Hydrolator. Disney’s lawyers transported the judge and jury to Epcot, took them into the Hydrolator, and operated it with both doors open to establish that there was no actual descent (the hydrolators were stationary elevators that only moved a few feet to simulate a descent to the bottom of the ocean), and the judge dismissed the case on the spot.
  • Hyena researchers sued Disney for defamation of character for their portrayal of the hyena trio in The Lion King (1994). Disney was asked by some of these researchers not to portray the hyenas as evil. Disney responded by portraying the main trio as Ineffectual Sympathetic Villains, who also became three major Ensemble Darkhorses.
  • "Dr." Tim Langdell, CEO of Edge Games, claims to own the video game trademark for the word "Edge." The man hasn't made a video game since The '80s, but whenever a video game with the word "Edge" in its name is announced, he jumps on the developer and publisher with a trademark infringement lawsuit. His downfall came when he announced "MIRRORS a game from EDGE", well after Mirror's Edge came out, and promptly sued Electronic Arts over it. EA managed to get Langdell's trademarks pulled and set him and his company up for some serious fraud charges.
  • Westboro Baptist Church does this to its critics. Its most often-used defense is that its right to free speech is being violated. These are the people who picket military funerals because they see the deaths of soldiers as divine punishment for serving a country that tolerates gay people. They even picketed Heath Ledger's funeral. Why? For playing the role of a gay cowboy in Brokeback Mountain. The general opinion of many people (even in the American Civil Liberties Union) is that they're doing it for money. One theory is that they are deliberately antagonizing people so that they will be assaulted, only to sue for damages, since their protests are, well, deliberately antagonizing, but always in public places where they can legally sue anyone who attacks them over it.
    • Fred Phelps, Sr. (the leader of this church until his death in 2014) was an attorney until he filed a frivolous lawsuit of his own against a court reporter, which ultimately led to his disbarment. The suit was because the court reporter had not given him a report on time as he had asked. He sued her for $22,000. The thing that got him disbarred was the fact that he falsified eight sworn statements which he claimed to have obtained, but he had never contacted any of the people.
    • Another suit that Fred filed was a $50 million class action lawsuit against Sears for being a few days late delivering a TV. 6 years later they settled out of court for $126.
  • Donald Trump has filed a few of these, both before and after he was President of the United States.
    • Trump once filed a defamation lawsuit for $5 billion against Timothy O’Brien, claiming he had been slandered when O'Brien's book TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald called him a "millionaire" rather than a "billionaire". Although Trump provided testimony to prove his net worth did indeed exceed $7 billion, it was thrown out by the judge, who claimed O’Brien committed no "actual malice" and that Trump could not confirm his true net worth.
    • On an episode of Real Time with Bill Maher, Maher offered Trump one million dollars to release his birth certificate to prove he was not the lovechild of an orangutan, parodying a similar offer Trump had made to President Obama during the birther debacle. Much to everyone's surprise, Trump not only complied but had his lawyer send a threatening letter to Maher demanding the promised money on penalty of legal action. It never went to court since, as Maher himself put it, jokes made by a comedian on a late-night talk show do not constitute a legal contract.
    • After losing the 2020 election, he sued the swing states he lost, claiming there was voter fraud despite no proof. All of them (even those filed at the Supreme Court level) had no impact as they were meritless; some were dropped when told of possible penalties for pursuing these further. The remaining suits became moot once Joe Biden was inaugurated. If that wasn't enough, some of the pro-Trump lawyers involved are facing legal sanctions for judicial abuse. Plus, election software vendors Dominion Voting and Smartmatic have sued the Trump campaign for spouting bogus claims that their machines were rigged in Biden's favor.
  • A class action lawsuit was brought against Apple in 2009 because some older iTunes gift cards advertised that "songs are 99 cents", only for the actual prices to be raised to $1.29.
  • In an instance nicely averted by a cry of "Have your attorney talk to my attorney", self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne threatened to sue Robert Lancaster, manager of a website devoted to debunking Browne's claims. Her — or her lawyers' — argument was that by (back then) calling his site "Stop Sylvia Browne", Lancaster was infringing Browne's trademark: his use of her name, the claim went, "misleads the consumer as to the source or affiliation". They were arguing that someone reading his site, on which nearly every word criticized Sylvia Browne, might mistake it for Browne's own website. Mr. Lancaster had his own lawyers reply to this blatant attempt at a SLAPP; Ms. Browne's lawyers have not to date followed up.
  • When David Letterman left NBC for CBS, NBC threatened to sue him if he used intellectual property from Late Night such as "Stupid Pet Tricks" and the Top Ten list. The problems with this include top ten lists preceding Letterman's show, and the fact that Stupid Pet Tricks actually came from a show which Letterman legally owned the intellectual property of. When both Letterman and Jay Leno mocked them for it, the issue was dropped.
  • Orly Taitz filed numerous lawsuits throughout the presidency of Barack Obama, all claiming that Obama was not a US citizen and therefore ineligible to be President. These lawsuits kept being tossed out of court left, right and center. Taitz was eventually fined $20,000 essentially for wasting the court's time, and it gave her a public perception of being completely barking mad. Even so, she kept right on filing them. She has only been granted a hearing once in 2012, to challenge the Georgia primary. Obama - named as the defendant - did not even send a lawyer to contest it. Taitz's testimony clearly only worsened the judge's opinion, as he still ruled against her. The Drudge Report described the hearing as "Empty Table 1, Orly Taitz 0".
  • Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the ranking member on the US House Intelligence committee, has gotten a reputation for being quite litigious over silly matters. He filed a libel lawsuit against Twitter and a random Republican strategist for $250 million in March 2019 for the former allowing two parody accounts of him, one of his cow (his family are dairy farmers) and one of his mom who’s his campaign manager. The latter is for her making fun of him on the platform. Nunes also sued the parent company of his hometown paper, "The Fresno Bee", for $150 million for mentioning his name in an article about a vineyard he and his siblings own a minority stake in getting sued for sexual harassment because a woman working an event for them on a yacht claimed it was a cocaine-fueled orgy with underage prostitutes. They never claimed he knew about it or that he was involved. Nunes also sued a writer for “Esquire” and the magazine’s parent company for $75 million for publishing a story about his family’s dairy farm in Iowa using undocumented workers. He’d gotten so bad about suing in Virginia under flimsy pretenses that he was one of two high profile court shoppersnote  that caused the state to adopt new anti-SLAPP laws in 2020. Nunes hasn’t managed to win a single case that he's filed, and most of them have been tossed out of court.
  • In March 2020, Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) had her $50 million first amendment lawsuit against Google tossed for its frivolousness. During her brief presidential run the previous year, Google temporarily suspended her advertising account due to suspicious activity but after finding nothing nefarious, quickly reinstated it. Gabbard claimed this was an attack on her free speech. The judge who dismissed the case noted that since Google is not a government entity, it’s not bound to the first amendment and is free to moderate its content as it sees fit. Right-wing media company Prager-U had a similar lawsuit against Google subsidiary YouTube tossed right around the same time.
  • Universal Studios once tried to sue Nintendo and several other companies selling Donkey Kong merchandise over allegations that it infringed on the King Kong copyright. What makes this frivolous is that not only was King Kong a Public Domain Character, but Universal themselves had proven he was such in an earlier lawsuit. Furthermore, the judge ruled that even if there had been a copyright, Universal still wouldn't have had a case, saying that, at best, Donkey Kong was a parody of King Kong. Needless to say, they lost and were forced to pay back every bit of money they had gotten plus damages. Nintendo was so grateful to the lawyer who defended them in the lawsuit that they gave him exclusive rights to name his yachts "Donkey Kong" and later named a successful video game franchise after him. The lawyer's name was John Kirby. To make it even sweeter, Nintendo later (successfully) sued Universal for their King Kong video game, which was itself a blatant ripoff of Donkey Kong.
  • In a joke/urban legend somebody insured his cigars against fire; after smoking them all, he tried to collect the insurance. The insurance company turned the table on him by charging him with arson.
  • Spike Lee's attempt to sue the then-newly-renamed Spike TV. The common joke at the time quickly became wondering if he was going to sue railroad spikes next.
  • There are a couple of lawsuits pending against Casey Anthony, the Florida woman who was tried and acquitted of murdering her daughter in 2008, but one complaint filed in October of 2012 was pretty absurd. A Pennsylvania woman sought $3 billion in damages for psychological and emotional distress, claiming that Anthony was a member of the Illuminati who told the plaintiff that she would poison her water and that the plaintiff had secret cameras lodged behind her eyes watching her every move. (A full copy of the complaint can be found here.) The lawsuit was thrown out before a judge could even consider it.
  • Singer Lady Miss Kier of the former group Deee-Lite (of "Groove Is In The Heart" fame) sued Sega, claiming that popular space reporter Ulala of the Space Channel 5 dance game series was created based on her likeness. She promptly lost the lawsuit, as Sega claimed that the creators of Ulala did not even know who Lady Miss Kier or Deee-Lite were when they created her.
  • Monster Cable Products is probably one of the most infamous repeat offenders of this trope. For a time in the 2000s, they aggressively claimed to own the trademark on the word "Monster" and frequently threatened to sue (and occasionally filed lawsuits against) anyone who used the word "Monster" to sell anything. Monster Energy Drink, Disney (for Monsters, Inc.), Monster Mini Golf, Monster.com, the Chicago Bears (for calling themselves "The Monsters of the Midway"), and the Boston Red Sox (for the Green Monster at their home stadium Fenway Park) were all pressured by the company. The suits all ultimately went nowhere, since Monster Cable's trademarks only extend to audio equipment - such as cables, speakers, and headphones.
  • A woman sued P. Diddy for $1 trillion for causing 9/11 and also for allegedly date-raping her and impregnating her circa 1986. $900 billion is for child support and $100 billion is for loss of income. This is roughly the GDP of a decent-sized country (2010, Mozambique). Diddy himself is one of the most successful entrepreneurs in hip hop, and at the time of the suit, he was worth only about half a billion. Most articles made it ambiguous as to what the outcome of the lawsuit was, but it seems it was dismissed.
  • Record labels want $75 trillion for copyright-related damages. That's five times the US national debt in 2011, and more money than exists on the planet (global GDP is somewhere on the order of US$61 trillion).
  • The fact that Private Eye do actually lose a lot of libel cases means that anyone who gets criticized in the magazine thinks it's worth a shot. Most of them receive "the reply given in Arkell v. Pressdram". In one example, the owners of The Daily Telegraph threatened to sue over a spoof Telegraph front page treating their own financial arrangements like the MP expenses scandal the paper broke. The Eye pointed out that this was clearly in the "joke" section of the magazine, and could no more be mistaken for a real Telegraph headline than The New Coalition Academy could be mistaken for a real school newsletter. Allegedly, it is considered a mark of seniority amongst the relevant section of the English Bar, much like the first time one buys a round for their old man, or first drives a car, to have represented Pressdram Inc. (the Eye's publisher) in a court case. Of course, this may simply be the Memetic Badass-ery of Private Eye as a maniacal offending machine.
  • The Room director Tommy Wiseau made a laughingstock of himself when he threatened lawsuits to various negative video reviews of the film, claiming that their use of clips from the film violated copyright (the use of short excerpts for the purpose of criticism is protected by the Fair Use section of the U.S. Copyright Act and backed up by extensive court precedent). Most notably, among his targets were two videos on Channel Awesome (one was The Nostalgia Critic's review of the film), whose massive fanbase put Wiseau on the end of a counterattack of epic proportions. They eventually got him to back down, and the reviews are now back up.
  • A famous Pepsi ad showed a series of goodies a kid could get for turning in Pepsi points, culminating in a kid landing a Harrier jet at his school with the caption "7,000,000 POINTS." Then 21-year-old John Leonard actually tried to purchase a Harrier with a $700,000 check at ten cents a Pepsi Point, and sued Pepsi when they refused to take it. Among other things, Leonard demanded a jury composed of "The Pepsi Generation" to hear his claim. The obvious comedic tone of the commercial, the ridiculousness of expecting a school to accommodate individuals arriving via jet, and the fact that $700,000 nowhere near covered the $24 million required to purchase an AV-8B Harrier II all worked against Leonard. The judge quickly threw the case out; in the ruling, the judge noted that any reasonable person would understand that the Harrier offer was a joke. Although just to be safe, Pepsi began airing an updated version of the commercial which increased the Harrier's cost to 700,000,000 Pepsi points.note  This also made any company who used a similar gag in their marketing start including some "prize not actually available" legalese.
  • Katy Perry (stage name) brought legal action againstnote  an Australian fashion designer named Katie Perry (birth name) to stop Katie from using her real name for her label. Katy Perry eventually dropped the suit because it was ridiculous.
  • Al Franken was sued by the Fox News Channel for his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right for using Fox News's motto: "Fair and Balanced". The judge heard both sides' arguments and told them he needed a moment to consider. He stepped out of the courtroom for two seconds before returning and saying, "Your (Fox's) claim is completely without merit, both legally and factually."
  • In 2017, comedian John Oliver was planning to do a story about coal mining on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Mining company Murray Energy sent Oliver a letter preemptively threatening to sue him if he mentioned the company or their CEO Bob Murray in any way. That would be a clear violation of Oliver's First Amendment rights, given that nothing Oliver was planning to say was libelous. In all likelihood, Murray Energy was hoping to intimidate Oliver into silence with the prospect of a costly trial, given that Murray has a history of sending such letters to anyone he thinks will criticize him. Oliver did his story on coal mining anyway, now with special focus on Murray Energy, including directly insulting Bob Murray personally several times, ultimately resulting in John Oliver saying "Eat shit, Bob". The promised lawsuit from Murray predictably came and just as quickly fizzled out, but Murray kept filing for appeals or re-filing the original case for almost three years, all the way to the West Virginia Supreme Court, with the suits only ending because Murray Energy went bankrupt and restructured. John Oliver discussed SLAPP laws on Last Week Tonight some time later, in which he detailed Murray's lawsuit and everything that happened as a result. That segment ended with a huge musical number in which Oliver all but dared Murray to sue him a second time, made wildly untrue claims (such as that Murray caused both World War I and World War II) while saying that he couldn't be sued for them because he was obviously kidding, and once again told Murray to "Eat shit, Bob".
  • In the year 2014, Lindsay Lohan sued Rockstar Games over Grand Theft Auto V, accusing the company of basing the in-game celebrity Lacey Jonas and the blonde, bikini-clad girl in the game's merchandising materials on her likeness without her permission. The case was thrown out by the judge, as the character's appearance was actually based on that of the fashion model Shelby Welinder, and it was found that Rockstar had absolutely no contact with her whatsoever.
    • Similarly, in 2018, after the release of Red Dead Redemption 2, Pinkerton Consulting & Investigation, which still exists as a subsidiary of the Swedish security company Securitas AB, sued Rockstar for royalties due to the portrayal of Pinkertons as antagonists in the game. Take-Two, Rockstar's parent company, successfully counter-sued, arguing that the Pinkertons are such a staple of fiction set in that period that their portrayal should count as fair use and/or public domain, and Pinkerton's case was dismissed.
  • According to the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, if no evidence could be found to support a claim or the plaintiff was found to be using false witness, the plaintiff could be executed. Bear in mind the Code wasn't a codified set of laws (it was only used as a basis for later systems of law after Hammurabi's reign), so much as a list of legal decisions Hammurabi had made in the past, meaning he actually had put at least one person to death for a frivolous lawsuit.
  • Häagen-Dazs, an American ice cream company who designed their name to sound Scandinavian, once brought the also-American ice cream company Frusen Glädjé (whose name means "Frozen Joy" in Swedish if you remove the accent that was put there to help Americans pronounce it right) to court. Why? Because the Häagen-Dazs people considered it false advertising that Frusen Glädjé were using a Scandinavian-sounding name despite being American. Since Häagen-Dazs were doing the exact same thing with their name (which actually sounds German to most Scandinavians), the court found that by virtue of the unclean hands doctrine (you cannot sue someone else for doing something when you yourself are doing the exact same thing), Häagen-Dazs was barred from suing Frusen Glädjé or indeed anyone else over using faux-Scandinavian names to market ice cream. If you're wondering who could bring such a suit: Only an actual Scandinavian company marketing ice cream with a "We're Scandinavian!" schtick would have grounds, but even then they wouldn't be particularly likely to prevail.
  • Scenario: You're attending a prestigious university for free because your father is a professor there. You don't attend/participate in class. You get a C+, and as a result, you don't get the career you wanted. Logical solution: Sue the university for 1.3 million dollars, accusing your professor of sexual discrimination. True to this trope, she lost in court.
  • In December 2012, Sega filed a lawsuit against Level-5 for 900 million yen (US $11 million) alleging that Inazuma Eleven infringes on 2 of Sega's patents by using drag-and-drop and tap commands on a touchscreen to control multiple characters at once. Level-5 responded by pointing out that not only has Nintendo used the concept with their DS way back in 2004, Sega's 2 patents in question are dated 2009 and 2011, whereas Inazuma Eleven was released in 2008, then proceeding to basically call out Sega for patent trolling.
  • Bluehole, the publisher of Battle Royale video game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, first threatened a lawsuit in September 2017 against Epic Games' competing title Fortnite. What made it frivolous was that PUBG did not invent the Battle Royale genre of video games, Fortnite used distinct assets and mechanics to create its own Battle Royale mode instead of copying from PUBG, and that the Unreal engine that powers PUBG is owned by Epic, effectively meaning Bluehole were biting the hand that fed them. By the end of June 2018, however, it was reported that Bluehole withdrew their case, although no explanation was given as to why. The rumor is that Bluehole were envious of Fortnite's success and popularity, which quickly overshadowed them despite them being first to popularize Battle Royale games.
  • Russian anti-gay activists sued Madonna for "propagandizing homosexual behavior" during a concert, in a hearing that bordered on the absurd. During the hearing, the prosecutor - who sought $10.7 million - claimed that the singer's so-called "propaganda of perversion" would negatively affect Russia's birthrate and erode the nation's defense capability by depriving the country of future soldiers. The judge almost had to tell court reporters to leave because they were laughing so much, and he eventually threw the case out. As you might expect, Madonna neither attended the hearing nor commented on the result.
  • FunnyJunk vs. The Oatmeal. In short:
    • The Oatmeal creator Matthew Inman found out FunnyJunk reposted his comics without permission and posted an annoyed rant about it on his website. Lawyer Charles Carreon, hired by FunnyJunk, claimed Inman's post constituted defamation of their website and demanded $20,000 in damages. Instead, Inman started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $20,000 for the National Wildlife Foundation and the American Cancer Society—and raised over ten times that. Carreon then sued Inman, Indiegogo, the American Cancer Society, the NWF and a hundred anonymous Internet users, claiming they might commit charity fraud. FunnyJunk dropped their lawsuit after Inman proved he donated the Indiegogo money to charity.
    • After that, Charles Carreon lost it, and began suing everyone under the sun. When he tried to sue a satire site for libel, he managed to make himself a public figure, thus protecting the site under parody laws. His wife invoked Godwin's Law on critics, and ultimately Carreon had to pay $46,100 to the satire site.
  • Jesse Dimmick, who was running from a murder charge in Colorado, sued a couple he took hostage in Kansas for breach of contract after they broke their promise to hide him from the police. Thankfully the ridiculous lawsuit was dismissed and Dimmick was sentenced to 11 years for the kidnapping and 37 years for second-degree murder.
  • In Italian law, every lawsuit must go to a judge before being possibly dismissed, with no punishment whatsoever for it. Thus Italian courts have an enormous backlog for things like a woman suing her daughter in law for not following the family (of the mother in law) recipe for a particular dish, or a stupid crook getting sued for attempting a bank robbery by the same people who foiled and beat him up.
  • The infamous "Superheated McDonald's Coffee" suit, often held high up as the epitome of this, is actually an aversion. The facts of the case are more complicated than most stories mentioning it indicate, but the gist is that the lawsuit was not simply over coffee being hot, but rather being so hot that it's impossible to drink it (they were found to be a good twenty to thirty degrees higher than any other fast-food restaurant that serves coffee; Liebeck ended up with her thighs, buttocks, and genitalia melting and fusing together from the heat), meaning McDonald's should have had no business selling coffee at said temperature. The vast majority of the award was also punitive damages imposed by the jury after finding McDonald's knew this but chose not to do anything about it, even though statistics showed a disproportionate number of people who bought McDonald's coffee got burns - in short, it was the company's disregard for safety that ultimately led to them losing.
    • That said, a good deal of criticism is based on what critics see as Contributory Negligence on the part of Ms. Liebeck. In other words, they argue that Ms. Liebeck's injuries were partially caused by her own negligent action (placing the cup between her legs and removing the lid). Ms. Liebeck's awarded damages were reduced based on that fact, as New Mexico uses the Comparative Negligence standard. However, four states still use the all-or-nothing Contributory Negligence standard. Had Ms. Liebeck's case happened in Alabama, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia, or the District of Columbia, she would have received nothing. However, she did admit to her culpability in the spill, and had attempted multiple times to settle the matter out-of-court, asking for a comparatively small $20,000 to cover her medical expenses, both present and anticipated - McDonald's counteroffered $800. During pretrial arbitration, Liebeck's attorney offered settlements of $90,000, $300,000, and $225,000 (as more and more evidence of the company's reckless disregard came to light) - all of which McDonald's rejected. Moreover, if McDonald's had served the coffee at a humanly drinkable temperature as Liebeck could reasonably have expected, holding the cup between her knees would have involved assuming a whole lot less risk of severe injury, making it a much less negligent action.
  • Similar to Ms. Liebeck's ordeal, Charles Bigbee suing a telephone company after being hit by a drunk driver while inside a phone booth is an infamous aversion of this. As it turns out, Bigbee (who became permanently disabled and lost a leg as a result of the accident) did start with the logical step of suing the driver, but only got a pittance because somehow the driver was never tested for alcohol after the accident and thus there was no proof she was drunk at the time. Bigbee then discovered that the phone booth in question had already been hit and replaced multiple times (it was very close to a busy intersection) and yet the phone company never moved the booth, added guardrails, or even fixed the booth so that the doors wouldn't suddenly jam, which is what prevented Bigby from escaping. Bigbee pretty much had to sue the phone company to get the money he needed to afford medical care as well as deal with the reduced employment opportunities from his new condition. This misunderstood case serves as a prelude to Swindled's episode on the McDonald's coffee lawsuit.
  • UK-based and Rupert Murdoch-owned broadcasting company British Sky Broadcasting sued Microsoft over the name of their SkyDrive service, which they claimed was copyright infringement. Despite the questionable legality of the suit (BSkyB isn't in the cloud storage business and has no plans to enter it; furthermore, they only operate within the UK, Germany, and Italy), Microsoft ended up having to change the name of their service to OneDrive to shut them up. As it turns out, they apparently hold (or at least believe they hold) the copyright over the very word "sky", as they also took Hello Games to court over the name of No Man's Sky, a case which took three years to settle.
  • Manhattan resident Anton Purisima sued New York City, the Au Bon Pain bakery, two local hospitals, Kmart and a "Latina" dog owner (apparently he tried to sue everyone he could think of) for two undecillion dollars (that's a two followed by thirty-six zeroes - as What If? points out, that's more than the value of everything ever produced in the history of mankind, plus the estimated worth of every animal, vegetable and mineral on the planet). He sought damages for "civil rights violations, personal injury, discrimination on national origin, retaliation, harassment, fraud, attempted murder, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and conspiracy to defraud", making numerous absurd claims. The full story is here.
  • A man fell asleep in the midst of a Yankees-Red Sox baseball game, which the announcers noticed and commented on. A video of this was then published on the MLB's website, and the Internet, being the Internet, began making fun of him for it. The man decided to sue the MLB and ESPN over this, apparently believing they are the ones throwing the insults around. The lawsuit even calls out an apparent attempt to imply he's gay, completely oblivious to the fact that this is from a parody website and not from MLB's site.
  • A nurse by the name of Sara Hellwege applied for a position at a family-planning clinic in Tampa, Florida. She did not get the position. Why? She mentioned during the application process that she had moral objections to administering certain types of birth control, even though doing so would have explicitly been part of her duty. She claims that hormonal contraceptive methods (such as the Pill) are abortifacients.note  There were no positions available that would allow her to work there without having to administer birth control, or the methods she objected to. So, yes, she essentially told HR that she wouldn't be able to work if she were hired. She promptly sued the clinic for religious discrimination, and the suit was dismissed a year later.
  • The maker of Candy Crush Saga sued Stoic Studios, makers of The Banner Saga series, because of the word "saga", claiming that it could cause confusion and that the two games are closely related. See for yourself how closely this is related to this. One is a viking strategy-RPG with a lot of blood and pillaging, the other is a casual game of clicking on glittering candies. Also, the word "saga" actually means a "viking heroic story", much more befitting a game about vikings. Still, the makers of Candy Crush Saga basically believe they own the words "candy" and "saga", and sue anyone who uses them even in completely unrelated games.
    • As Extra Credits pointed out, part of this is simply down to how US Trademark and Copyright law works - a failure by a company to defend against possible infringement, no matter how inane, can be used in a future case that is infringement as evidence that the company isn't active in protecting its Trademark, and thus has lost legal claim on it. This is also what prompted a similar lawsuit from Bethesda against Mojang over their new game "Scrolls".
  • Filing too many of these was what led to a Creator Breakdown from independent game developer studio Digital Homicide. James and Robert Romine, the two brothers who ran the company, engaged in such blatant abuse of the legal system that it drove them into bankruptcy. As a result of the costs of filing, all of their lawsuits being thrown out, and the extremely negative press they received, Digital Homicide had closed its doors by the end of 2017.
    • In early 2016, James Romine filed a lawsuit against video game journalist Jim Sterling. For some time, Sterling had been covering Digital Homicide by critiquing their asset-flipped games and reporting on their assorted underhanded activities. Romine sued Sterling for $10.7 million, charging that anything Sterling had ever said or written about Digital Homicide was libel. The crux of the lawsuit was an article Sterling published where they alleged a game's artwork had been stolen when it had been legally purchased - Sterling had already noted this, and corrected their article. In fact, Sterling had corrected it so quickly, Romine had to cite Sterling's own retraction to prove it even happened. Romine ended up representing himself since no lawyer would take the case and made his own documents for submission to the court (resulting in nigh-incomprehensible legal filings), and Romine also demanded Sterling compensate him for the time he spent researching law so he could file the lawsuit in the first place. The case was eventually dropped in 2017 when Sterling's lawyer drilled into Romine's head how deeply and utterly screwed that Digital Homicide would be if the case ever saw the inside of a courtroom.
    • The Romines attempted to sue 100 anonymous Steam users at the same time they were suing Sterling. The Romines demanded $18 million compensation for criminal destruction of property because the defendants left negative reviews and comments on their games. The prayer of relief demanded any defendant who couldn't pay have their Steam accounts permanently closed as recompense. When Valve found out about the lawsuit, they immediately shut down Digital Homicide's account and purged all of their games from the Steam storefront.note  On top of that, most of the legalese was so vague and broad that the range of defendants could have encompassed anyone that is currently working in, has ever worked in, and ever will work in the video game industry, including content creators on YouTube. A judge threw the case out before it got anywhere near a courtroom.
  • Red Bull once settled a class-action lawsuit out of court. According to Benjamin Careathers, the man who led the charge in filing suit, "consumers of the drink did not benefit from any mental or physical enhancements, though the product states in its advertisement that it 'gives you wings'." In other words, they sued Red Bull because it doesn't actually make you grow wings when you drink it. And this is ignoring the line "actually, Red Bull [does what energy drinks are supposed to do]" that shows up in their advertisements, which could be construed as a disclaimer.
  • A local Polish company named a.pl was sued by Apple because of similarity in names; the Apple lawyers argued that the two companies are "easy to get confused". The case never made it to the court.
  • A 2011 case. When a movie called Kac Wawa was released, it was completely reviled by the critics, it failed with most audiences and the movie flopped severely. As a result, the producers tried to sue one of the movie's major detractors, the famed critic Tomasz Raczek, to compensate for their financial losses. The lawsuit barely went anywhere.
  • A woman in Seattle was sued by her neighbor for several hundred thousand dollars because her dog's barking caused him mental anguish and also caused him hearing damage as the barking reached volumes of 120 decibels (that's louder than an ambulance siren and only slightly softer than a jet engine during takeoff). The woman ignored the lawsuit - since it was obviously frivolous and would never stand up in court - and the neighbor won the suit by default because she didn't respond. Now she's at risk of losing her home and it's going to take some serious legal fees for lawyers to overturn the lawsuitnote . However, courts can set aside default judgments “for good cause shown and upon such terms as the court deems just.”
  • General Steel Domestic Sales, Inc. v. Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau, Civil Action No. 1:07-cv-01145-DME-KMT, (Consolidated with Case No. 07-cv-02170). (D. Colo. Mar. 2, 2009): A company that produced prefabricated steel buildings was investigated by California and Colorado authorities for deceptive sales practices (the buildings were fine, but the company misrepresented some important characteristics) under their respective states' consumer protection laws after receiving complaints from dissatisfied customers; these authorities sue. What does the company do? Sue the authorities, the consumers, the Better Business Bureau (which had taken complaints and directed consumers to the authorities), a competitor founded by a disgruntled former employee, and several media outlets for "conspiracy"note  to make it appear that the company was violating consumer protection laws. The funny thing is that because the conspiracy laws are so complicated, this technically wasn't a frivolous suit—it's too hard to prove that they didn't have a chance. That said, when the judge in the case brought by the Colorado authorities made his ruling, he said it was "obvious" that the company had violated the law—something judges don't say lightly when there's parallel litigation on the issue, basically amounting to saying "I could say that the other suit is frivolous, but I won't because that wouldn't be quite right."
  • In 2015, a woman in Nebraska filed papers to sue all homosexual people on behalf of God. Sylvia Ann Driskell, a woman claiming to be an "Ambassador of God", did not seek any monetary payment; she wanted the courts to determine whether or not homosexuality was a sin. Driskell cited no laws in her petition, which was handwritten on notebook paper, and riddled with spelling and grammar errors. The only evidence Driskell cited for her claim was a series of Bible verses.note  In other words, Driskell's petition was a seven-page homophobic rant, and what she wanted was for the courts to throw all gay people in jail. The case was quickly dismissed on the grounds that there was no demand for relief, no particularized injury to the plaintiff, no specifically identified defendant (citing Mayo vs. Satan, listed above), and that the court has no interest or authority in engaging in such theological debate. To add insult to more insult, the official record of the case retains all the spelling and grammar errors in the letter. Thus, the case is recorded as:
    Plaintiff
    I Sylvia Ann Driskell
    Ambassador for Plaintiff's God, and His, Son, Jesus Christ
    v.
    Defendant
    Homosexuals
    Their Given Name, Alis Gay
  • Palmer, Reifler & Associates, P.A. have made careers out of threatening convicted shoplifters with lawsuits for many times the value of whatever they stole and the fines they already paid. Often, the firm will do this without even contacting the store that had been robbed. They either settle out of court or get ignored since there is no court order attached. But they keep harassing people with larger and larger sums for months.
  • Not Always Right has had some demonstrations of this from customers looking to scam some easy money out of retail stores. Almost every lawsuit threatened in any story from the website will either never show up or get thrown out of court.
    • This guy wants to sue a town. Not the town government, but the town itself and everyone in it. By the look of things, he appeared to be under the impression that "Boise Idaho" (without a comma) was a company and not a town.
    • This guy, every year, goes to a family's haunted house, comes out bruised, and sues them for it, never winning from a lack of evidence but wasting a lot of their money nonetheless. He eventually gets his comeuppance when they install security cameras and catch him injuring himself after he's not able to goad the workers into attacking him as he claims they did - his case is immediately thrown out with that evidence, and the family promptly counter-sues him for three times what he wanted from them, making back nearly every penny they had lost fighting his lawsuits.
    • This woman attempts this, when she enters a bakery and asks them to create a wedding cake and bill her for it, totally ignoring the submitter's insistence that they don't sell cakes or send bills out before she leaves. Naturally, none of what she asks for is accomplished. She then begins sending attorneys to the bakery, and ends up going through four of them before she gives up - or, less charitably but more likely, before she gets enough of a bad rep among attorneys that they won't take her case, since even the four that did take it simply sat down with the bakery, apologized for wasting their time, and dropped it.
  • Eric Hoffman decided to sue Steve Asheim for unpaid publishing royalties on Scars of the Crucifix shortly after he quit, claiming that he had written the entire album and should be paid accordingly. This was complete bullshit; Asheim had written the vast majority of the album, and during the discovery process, Asheim handed over a teaching video that he had recorded to demonstrate to Eric how to play his parts that Asheim had written. Eric Hoffman's lawyer subsequently relieved himself of his duty because continuing to represent someone for a case that was now obviously frivolous would be a serious ethics violation, and Eric dropped the case immediately after.
  • Frivolous lawsuits involving taking advantage of generosity have become a problem in China, in which people who injure themselves in public, if someone helps them, either sues the person who helped them, accusing them of hurting them in the first place, in hopes of getting money; or will milk their hospital stay for as long as they can and send the bill to the person who helped them. It's gotten to where shipping company Alibaba has created "Good Samaritan insurance," where someone who's covered, if they're struck by a situation like this, will receive legal assistance from Alibaba to fight back.
    • Tragically, this has led to a culture where someone can be horrifically injured in a public place and nobody will make the slightest move to render them any assistance whatsoever, for fear of being sued, most infamously in the horrible case of the death of Wang Yue, a 2-year-old girl who was run over by two cars and left lying on the road for seven minutes while at least 18 passers-by went around her until she was finally rescued by a rubbish scavenger. This incident ultimately lead to the passing of several Good Samaritan laws, first regional ones and then a national one, to prevent incidents like this from ever happening again.
  • You get a $1.50 Kit Kat bar that happens to not have the wafers inside it, so you basically get a chocolate bar. What do you do? Demand a lifetime's supply of Kit Kat bars, that's what you do!
  • There is a small Turkish town that is named Batman and has decided to try and leverage its rather infamous name for profit at least once. It tried to sue Warner Brothers over The Dark Knight for using its name without asking and claimed the movie led to a series of unsolved murders and a high rate of female suicides, demanding a share of the royalties from the highly successful movie. The lawsuit was not successful.
  • A woman sues Starbucks Coffee for $5 million, claiming the company short-changes customers by filling chilled beverages with too much ice. Starbucks immediately fired back in a press statement that the suit has no merit. Ultimately dismissed with prejudice by the judge.
  • The 'sovereign citizen' movements — such as Posse Comitatus, Freeman-On-The-Land, and Moorish Law — take use of frivolous lawsuits (and countersuits) to new heights. The gist of all these movements is basically the same: the codified laws of today are illegitimate, and only common law prevails. These groups thus rely on Exact Words, Loophole Abuse, and very broad interpretations of the law to make what they think are bulletproof legal arguments (most of which boil down to "I can do whatever I want without legal consequences"), but almost always fail and just get them in even more trouble. An Alberta judge, in the judgement for the 2012 suit Meads v. Meads, gleefully enters Sarcasm Mode at the start of the almost 200-page long document when ruling against a sovereign citizen, and the feeling that they're fed up with the whole situation doesn't stop at any point.
  • A mother in California sued Spin Master because her child's Hatchimal, one of the company's toys, did not hatch. She claimed it was trickery. It turned out the reason the robot did not hatch was that the batteries were dead.
  • Weaponized by a woman in Connecticut, whose insurance company wouldn't cover the surgeries needed for her broken wrist unless she had some sort of lawsuit, so she sued her eight-year-old nephew for acting "unreasonably" when he jumped into her arms, knowing full well that the jury would throw it out. Unfortunately, this also got her labeled the "meanest Aunt in America" because people only looked at the overarching facts, not the underlying circumstances.
  • After beating one of his prostitutes and her customer with an Air Jordan, Portland pimp Sirgiorgiro Clardy was sentenced to 100 years in prison. What did he do? He sued Nike for not putting warning labels that the shoe could cause injury.
  • In 2017, real estate site Zillow threatened to sue Kate Wagner, the owner of the blog McMansion Hell, for using photos obtained from Zillow's website to mock what Wagner perceived as ugly architecture design. Zillow sent a letter to Wagner claiming her use of Zillow photos was in violation of copyright laws and did not apply under fair use. However, the company would eventually admit that it technically doesn't own the photos posted on its website, meaning they were hoping to intimidate Wagner into taking the pictures down. Wagner eventually agreed to stop using any more of Zillow's photos, but the ones she had already posted were allowed to stay up with no changes.
  • In August 2019, a man sued Popeye's Chicken for denial of a clearly advertised service because the chain was sold out of their new chicken sandwiches nationwide. He claimed the lawsuit was filed because the chain was simply denying him the ability to purchase and try the new sandwich for no reason.
  • In October 2018, YouTuber AuronPlay was taken to court. The lawsuit was filed by Josep Bartomeu, the president of Barcelona FC, because AuronPlay compared Bartomeu to Nobita from Doraemon. Why Bartomeu was so offended by the comparison is anyone's guess, but the notice meant that AuronPlay had to appear in court, at which point a judge immediately threw the case out.
  • In February 2020, following a controversial Super Bowl halftime show, a conservative Christian activist by the name of Dave Daubenmire attempted to file a lawsuit against the NFL for 867 trillion dollars. The case got thrown out of court, since while Daubenmire found the show to be too sexual, he was not in any way forced to watch it despite his claims to the contrary.
  • In 2007, a small California-based internet media company named Positive Ions, Inc., run by a "visionary athlete businessman" (read: trademark troll at best, con artist at worst) named Dave Behar, attempted to sue Ion Televison under the claim that Positive Ions owned the trademark to the word "Ion", and even tried to force the network to rebrand again (they had previously been known as i and PAX). The lawsuit ended in a $1.7 million settlement awarded to Positive Ions, however Ion Television has continued calling itself "Ion" to this day as if nothing happened, while Positive Ions and other companies run by Behar vanished without a trace sometime in the 2010s.
  • In 2019, one guy from Michigan attempted to sue multiple different animation companies and even DeviantArt. He claimed that during the 1980s, he'd single-handedly invented anime, and "the Japanese" had stolen it and rebranded it to hide their theft. He also accused The Simpsons of being copied from his style, and claimed that he'd written Naruto. Since he was representing himself and his case was obviously completely bereft of even the slightest merit — for one thing, anime has been around for a lot longer than the Eighties — the case was conclusively dismissed with prejudice.
  • On June 2020, Erik Estavillo decided to sue the game-streaming site Twitch because many of the female streamers there were suggestive and that, as a self-proclaimed "sex addict", he can't help but be turned on and... do unsavory things. Whether this lawsuit is going to go through or not remains to be seen.
  • Anas Osama Ibrahim Abdin, the creator of unreleased video game Tardigrades, sued CBS and Netflix for Star Trek: Discovery's Ripper arc, on the basis that both involved giant tardigrades travelling in space. Both the US District Court for the Southern District of New York and the Second Circuit told Abdin to pound sand on the basis that both were based on tardigrades being able to survive in space, a scientific fact that would set a horrible precedent to copyright, and that any elements that could be copyrighted weren't substantially similar, the characters weren't similar enough to be comparable, the story of Tardigrades wasn't developed enough to compare to Discovery, and the rest was stock sci-fi concepts that could never be copyrighted.
  • In 2007, cartoonist / toy inventor Troy Walker tried to sue Viacom, claiming that SpongeBob SquarePants was copied from his 1991 failed toy / comic strip Bob Spongee. The lawsuit was laughed out of court, with the judge reminding Troy that the origins of SpongeBob go back to 1989, almost 2 years prior to Bob Spongee.
  • The estate of Arthur Conan Doyle are suing the studios that made and released Enola Holmes due to claiming a copyright on Sherlock Holmes' emotions that hasn't lapsed yet, never mind that many previous films gave Holmes emotions without being sued, as did the very first Holmes novel (which is already in public domain).
  • Debt collectors have been known to file lawsuits against debtors as a way of intimidating/forcing them into paying off debts. Often times, the collectors persuade the court into agreeing with them and finding in favor of the collectors. Portfolio Recovery Associates is infamous for this (aside from their other practice of getting other collection firms to try and collect for them).
  • During the "Hoverboard-mania" of 2015-16, multiple companies producing self-balancing scooters/"hoverboards" got entangled in legal battles over the patents related to the devices, including the inventor of the "hoverboard" Dan Chen and even Segway. One Chinese manufacturer, Ninebot, Took a Third Option and bought Segway in order to resolve their side of the dispute.
  • Joly v. Pelletier et al.: In 1999, an Ontario resident with an idiosyncratic view of reality filed suit in the Ontario Superior Court against numerous defendants, including Canadian and American government officials and assorted companies, for discriminating against him on the grounds that he is a Martian. In dismissing the lawsuit, the judge observed (besides the fact that the lawsuit was obviously frivolous) as follows:
    Rule 1.03 defines plaintiff as "a person who commences an action". The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines person as "an individual human being". Section 29 of the Interpretation Act provides that a person includes a corporation. It follows that if the plaintiff is not a person in that he is neither a human being nor a corporation, he cannot be a plaintiff as contemplated by the Rules of Civil Procedure. The entire basis of Mr. Joly's actions is that he is a martian, not a human being. There is certainly no suggestion that he is a corporation. I conclude therefore, that Mr. Joly, on his pleading as drafted, has no status before the Court.
  • The oft-cited "thief suing homeowner for an injury when breaking in and winning" Urban Legend is usually a long game of telephone about Katko v. Briney, which ultimately averts this. Katko, the aforesaid burglar, really did sue the Briney family after he was injured while trying to rob their property, and he won. What people don't mention (or don't know) is that the Brineys had left the place unoccupied for ten years, and that they had rigged a Booby Trap that would cause a shotgun to fire at anyone who opened a bedroom door. The courts ultimately ruled that, while this would have been self-defense had the Brineys been there since a homeowner has no responsibility to render a property safe for a trespasser or a burglar, a homeowner has no right to actively attempt to kill somebody who enters their property if it's unoccupied.
  • The band Iron Maiden suing to rename the first-person shooter Ion Maiden (which is now Ion Fury) zig-zags this. On the surface, it's a perfectly logical lawsuit, because of the extreme similarity of their names, and even if they'd argued solely on that point they probably still would have won. However, several of the other claims put forward by Iron Maiden's lawyers dipped into this territory - among other things, they claimed that the protagonist is a gender-swap of Iron Maiden's leader Steve Harris (she was originally conceived as a Distaff Counterpart to Duke Nukem), that the skull bomb logo resembles Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie (the logo is much less detailed than Eddie, certainly not enough to be a ripoff), and that the gameplay is a copy of their Legacy of the Beast mobile game (Legacy of the Beast is a role-playing game, not an FPS).
  • In the United States, the legal concept of qualified immunity is intended to avert this trope. Qualified immunity protects government officials from any civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution while exercising their duties as long as they act reasonably and in good faith. Examples include school faculty, police officers, prison guards, etc. The key words here are "reasonable" and "good faith". Not doing so means qualified immunity may not apply and outright breaking of laws definitely nullifies protection.

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