Free speech: Florida federal appeals court dismisses trademark lawsuit over criticism of doctor’s medical practice

In a First Amendment victory, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled this week against a doctor’s online challenge to a claim by a fellow doctor that an unapproved drug was effective in treating Alzheimer’s. Dr. Edward Tobinick sued Dr. Steven Novella for criticizing his claim arguing that Novella violated trademark law and interfered with his ability to earn a living by repurposing the drug. (Pissed Consumers, February 21, 2017)

Novella’s lawyer used a California anti-SLAPP law in Florida to bolster his case. The court ruled in their favor on the application of that law and rejected the trademark argument stating that there was no evidence that Novella profited by his blog and even if there were profits, the First Amendment would still protect the critical speech. Barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, Tobinick must now pay Novella’s legal fees. (TechDirt, February 22, 2017, by Tim Cushing)