In November 2016, I discovered that more than 200 of my posts had been copied and republished by a publicly-traded company. A month after notifying the company’s owners that I intended to seek compensation for the blog infringement, they filed a lawsuit against GoPetFriendly.com asking the court to exonerate them and award them damages of $5 million. They were hoping to intimidate me. It didn’t work.
If this is the first time you’re hearing about our legal battle, here are my previous posts:
Blog Infringement Resolution
The Responsible Parties
Naturally, the publicly-traded company that republished my blog posts was accountable for the damages. But, I learned that the people who directed the infringement to happen we’re also personally liable. During the time my posts were stolen, three different men were in charge of the company – Mr. Taylor, Mr. Dillon, and Mr. Neziol. Each of them was named in the lawsuit. Only Mr. Neziol responded – the other two were notified of the case but didn’t come forward and therefore lost by default.
To avoid the cost of a trial, we settled with Mr. Neziol in October 2019 for $30,000, which helped cover some of our legal fees.
As part of that agreement, GoPetFriendly.com was also awarded a judgement for $200,000 against the company, which is now called Rain Forest International, Inc. It seems unlikely that we’ll be able to collect on that judgement. The company hasn’t filed any public disclosures since May 2019 and appears to be defunct.
Judgement in Default
Collecting damages for blog infringement from people who don’t respond to a lawsuit is more difficult. First, you have to file a motion for judgement in default, presenting the judge with a proof of the damages you sustained.
In our case, we started by calculating the estimated cost the company would have had to pay for someone to write each of the blog posts they stole. Based on an average rate of $30 per hour for freelance writers, and adding additional time and estimated travel costs for the blog posts covering pet friendly destinations, we came up with a total of $79,560.
In addition to that, the law allows for statutory damages and the recovery of profits the company generated based on their theft. In total, those amounts came to $748,867.
Adding our legal fees and costs took our total claim for damages to $934,438. On January 10, 2020, my attorney received notice that the judge ruled in our favor and hadn’t modified our calculations at all!
Receiving the judgement was huge. After more than three years carrying this weight I felt vindicated! The acknowledgement of the value of my work – and thereby every other blogger’s – was beyond words. But I couldn’t tell you … because that’s not the end of the case.
It’s still up to us to attempt to collect on the judgement. The court allocated the damages, assigning more than $400,000 to Mr. Taylor and nearly as much to Mr. Dillon. We didn’t want them to have a heads up that we were looking for them, so I didn’t share our win here on the blog. I wouldn’t put it past them to try to start hiding assets to force us to jump another hurdle before being able to collect the damages.
We’re still looking for John W. Taylor, born August 5, 1959, with a last know address in Las Vegas, Nevada.
We found Mr. Dillon’s employer right before COVID hit and the state put a hold on all collection activities in Nevada. When the restrictions were lifted in October, we filed to begin garnishing Mr. Dillon’s wages and received our first payment last week. Given the amount we’re receiving, he won’t pay off the judgement in his lifetime. But I’m grateful that we’ll recover more of our legal fees.
That’s where we are today. I don’t know if we’ll ever find Mr. Taylor. And that’s okay. It’s time to acknowledge the lessons I’ve learned and close this chapter of my life.
I can’t tell you how much your support has meant to me – both emotionally and financially. Your generosity and caring has taught me that there’s no shame in asking for help.
This world is filled with wonderful, kind people. And I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.