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TVAddons: Telco Bailiffs Enter Home Over Unpaid Attorney’s Fees

TVAddons: Telco Bailiffs Enter Operator’s Home Over Unpaid Attorney’s Fees

On June 2, 2017, Canadian telecoms giants including Bell Canada, Bell ExpressVu, Bell Media, Videotron, Groupe TVA, Rogers Communications and Rogers Media, filed a complaint in Federal Court against Montreal resident, Adam Lackman.

Lackman is the founder of Kodi addon repository TVAddons and someone described by the telecoms companies as a serial infringer of their intellectual property rights.

The companies demanded injunctions against Lackman, preventing him from developing, promoting or distributing allegedly infringing add-ons and software. The plaintiffs also requested damages and costs on top.

Without Lackman being present or able to mount a defense, on June 9, 2017, the Federal Court handed down a time-limited interim injunction. Bailiffs took control of TVAddons’ domains, shutting TVAddons down. They also obtained an Anton Piller order, a civil search warrant which granted no-notice permission to enter Lackman’s premises to secure evidence.

On June 12, 2017, Lackman’s home was searched against his wishes, but on June 29, 2017, a judge decided that Lackman had been mistreated. The Anton Piller order was vacated and the application for interlocutory injunction was dismissed.

The plaintiffs took this decision to appeal during November 2017. A three-judge panel handed down its decision February 2018, effectively turning the earlier ruling on its head.

The telecoms companies emerged victorious with the Anton Piller order and interim injunctions declared legal. As the image below shows, Lackman was also told to pay the telecoms companies attorney’s fees of CAD$50,000.

Pay CAD$50,000 to the plaintiffs
Yesterday, just one day after the anniversary of the original search of Lackman’s home, representatives of the plaintiffs were back again to carry out yet another search.

“Bell, Rogers, and Videotron showed up once again to force their way into our founder’s home,” TVAddons said in a statement.

“They had a court order that allowed them to search through anything and everything, in order to mark down things of value which would be sold to repay the debt.”

Speaking with TorrentFreak, Lackman said he could find no deadline dates on the order issued by the court and believed he had much more time to tackle the issue.

“I didn’t think they expected to be paid prior to the conclusion of the [full] lawsuit,” Lackman told TF.

“I’ve already been forced to fundraise in order to defend myself, they have seized millions worth of property (domains, social media) and destroyed my only source of revenue already. Harassing me to pay them when I don’t even have money to pay my own lawyers is really disruptive to my general well being.”

But surely the TVAddons founder was given notice that the monies were due and a visit was imminent? Not so, he insists.

“Other than the appeal judgment, I had not heard from them since. I had no clue they could even show up again. How could I expect that collections would begin while the entire lawsuit on the actual merits (the only important part) is still ahead?” he told us.

But turn up they did. Yesterday morning three bailiffs working for Smart & Biggar Fetherstonhaugh on behalf of Bell, Rogers, and Videotron arrived at Lackman’s home and made their presence known.

“As soon as I opened my door, one of the bailiffs put his foot in it and said that they had the right to enter. I called my lawyer who told me I should comply with their demands,” Lackman says.

“One of the bailiffs appeared to be there for ‘muscle.’ The other bailiff was extremely aggressive, even asking me to show them copies of my invoices with lawyers. And the third bailiff (who seemed to be in charge, he was also part of the original seizure last year) was a bit harsh, but it seemed like he was just trying to do his job.”

Lackman says the visit wasn’t particularly fruitful. The bailiffs found a laptop and “two near worthless” prints on his wall. The goods will be sold at auction come July 31 unless Lackman can either come up with the funds (now CAD$57,500, up from the original CAD$50,000) or get a court to suspend the action. But for a man with no money, it’s a catch-22 situation.

“I am hoping that we will be able to get a sort of stay of proceedings on the collections, at least until the court hears the merits of the lawsuit at trial. The problem is that the goods they are going to seize probably aren’t even worth what it will cost to return to Federal Court. They’re trying to ruin me,” Lackman adds.

With Lackman’s back up against the wall, he’s still relying on well-wishers to help bail him out. However, the case is already a year old with many thousands spent in legal fees and no end in sight.

When or if a trial on the merits will ever take place is still anyone’s guess but with powerful deep-pocketed adversaries, there’s a possibility that Lackman might be worn down without ever having had his day in court.

“If they are going to harass me on an ongoing basis for every little thing I have (such as my laptop), I’ll have no chance of ever being able to fight the merits, which is what they want,” he concludes.

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