cyber law

March 2020

Can a pseudonym screen name protect you from a lawsuit?

Case Study: Theralase Technologies Inc. v Lanter

Van Krkachovski
Van Krkachovski,
Partner

Anisha Bhardwaj
Anisha Bhardwaj,
Law Student

By Van Krkachovski, and Anisha Bhardwaj

In Theralase Technologies Inc. v Lanter, the issue of whether judgement can be granted against a defendant whose identity is unknown was considered.

On a website called Stockhouse.com, online users using pseudonym screen names made derogatory comments regarding Theralase Technologies Inc. and two of its employees (“the Plaintiffs”). The Plaintiffs obtained an order requiring Stockhouse.com to provide the identities of these online users. Due to technical difficulties, Stockhouse.com was unable to produce their identities.

The Plaintiffs commenced an action and each of the unidentified defendants was served by email or through a private message on Stockhouse.com. The unidentified defendants failed to respond to the claim and the Plaintiffs brought a motion for default judgement against the 10 unidentified defendants.

The Court held that it had jurisdiction over the unidentified defendants in personam because notice to the unidentified defendants by email or private message was reasonably expected to be brought to their attention.

Damages were awarded against the defendants and costs were ordered on a substantial indemnity basis. The Judge did not specify how judgment is to be enforced against a person who is currently identified only by a pseudonym.

As this decision indicates, it will be a challenge for the plaintiff to enforce judgement until the users are identified. It may be that the Plaintiff will continue to make efforts to identify users.

Read the full decision or read other case summaries for March.

  1. Long fight ends in judgement to Plaintiff includes 450G interest plus costs
  2. Can a claim be denied due to criminal history from 20 years ago?

 


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