Monday, 12 February 2018 07:55

Open source advocate seeks costs for dismissed lawsuit


Well-known open source advocate Bruce Perens is seeking to recover his legal costs from the group Grsecurity, after a defamation case filed by the latter against him was dismissed.

Grsecurity filed the lawsuit under its trading name Open Source Security; it sells a hardening patch for the Linux kernel to subscribers.

The group and its owner, Brad Spengler, took offence at Perens' characterisation of its efforts as presenting "a contributory infringement and breach of contract risk" and sued him in August last year.

The case was dismissed in December 2017, with Magistrate judge Laurel Beeler agreeing to Perens' motion but denying his bid to invoke the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law in California.

This law deals with legal complaints that are directed at stopping public discussion and free speech. California put in place an anti-SLAPP law in 1992.

Spengler and his group have appealed the verdict; they had sought US$3 million in damages in the original lawsuit.

In a motion filed on 7 February, Perens said he "respectfully requests an award of attorneys’ fees and non-taxable costs incurred in responding to the lawsuit. Defendant also requests an award of fees and costs incurred in bringing this motion as permitted by law".

As the California anti-SLAPP law mandates that attorney's fees have to be paid by the losing party, the only thing that remains to be decided is the quantum.

Perens is seeking US$667,665.25 in fees. According to the motion, "That figure consists of a lodestar figure of US$478,977.50 — based on 833.9 hours reasonably expended on this litigation multiplied by his attorneys’ customary hourly rates, which are in line with prevailing market rates for comparable work performed by attorneys of comparable quality — and a US$188,687.75 success fee provided for in the alternative fee arrangement Perens entered with his counsel".

The motion provided a breakdown of the fees for work done by Perens' attorneys:


iTWire has sought comment from Spengler.

Link to motion: courtesy The Register

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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