Nick Ranallo to Prenda: “Put your money where your mouth is”

A must-follow strategy

Every time I see Nick Ranallo’s work, I want to take off my hat. John Steele, annoyed by too much truth being publicized about his shady practices, labeled Nick as “underemployed lawyer trolling for business.” We know that Steele usually tries to brush off someone’s actions publicly only when these actions seriously hurt Prenda’s shakedown “business.” Therefore, it is not an understatement to call Nick one of the most capable Prenda’s foes: indeed, Nick continues delivering very serious blows to copyright trolls with every new case he defends. Embedded below is a new must-read Motion to Post Undertaking in one of the numerous Prenda’s individual cases, AF Holdings v. David Trinh (CAND 12-cv-02393-CRB) filed by Prenda’s California agent, Brett “Pinocchio” Gibbs.

Basically, defendant asks court to tell Prenda to put its money where its mouth is and deposit an $85K bond. The likelihood of defendant’s prevalence is great, but the likelihood that a secretive offshore “rights holder” will pay quickly and seamlessly in case if it loses is minuscule. That’s one of the reasons why offshore companies have been created in the first place: to make things opaque and difficult for creditors when those companies are eventually ordered to return what they stole from their victims.

This motion is so well written and so compelling that I can’t imagine how judge’s decision can be potentially swayed by Gibbs’s apoplectic opposition that he filed on 10/19. In that opposition Pinocchio has proudly showcased his long nose while calling this blog a “piracy forum.” A troll from Colorado Jason Kotzker labels our forums “anti-copyright”: laughable, but at least Kotzker has guts to post links in footnotes. Gibbs, on the other hand, cowardly cut the URL from his exhibit and did not provide a link anywhere in the motion. This childish fear of truth being learned by judges gives me some comfort, and I don’t want to spend more time discussing the obvious: if someone calls you a camel on the street, you don’t argue — you just raise your eyebrows for a second and move forward¹.

Defendant invokes California’s CCP 1030: I don’t know if similar rules exist in other states, let lawyers stop by and discuss, but if this is the case and most states allow such things, I see Nick’s primer as a serious game changer.


Prenda’s new game

I don’t know if this way to secure fair outcome can be invoked if individual defendants are not served, which is seemingly a new Steele’s strategy. The brief history of Prenda Law, which is presented in the Chapter II of Ranallo’s motion, is nearly impeccable and can be included in virtually any motion where Prenda’s “client” is an opposing party. In short, it explains how Steele moved from mass suing but not naming to blindly serving individuals (Gibbs’s own words). What is missing in Nick’s vision of Prenda’s history is the interim strategy. While indeed some individuals have been served, they comprise only a tiny fraction of those who have been named over the last months. So, naming but not serving is the stage of Prenda’s “genesis” that Nick has missed in his otherwise excellent educational field trip.

Look, Prenda recently filed a shitload of cases and promised to file more. It is physically impossible (at least in this universe) to litigate all these cases with a handful of cheap crooks Steele and Co. were able to find across the US. The talk about “representatives” in all states is just a hollow talk a-la Steele: currently two hands are more than enough to count all the local scumbags. Each of them files far more cases than he can even watch, less handle diligently (which leads us to a blatant violation of the rules of professional conduct, but that’s a different story).

Sure Steele and his goons still can make an effort and heave a couple of summons, but what about all of the currently named cases that rot in dockets all over the country? What will they do with this load? What is going to happen when it comes to depositions?

Prenda can’t even organize the complaints on its site, listing unrelated Duffy’s cases together with extortion lawsuits. In another occasion, an individually named defendant has not been dismissed from the underlying mass lawsuit. And this is just the tip of the iceberg: these guys absolutely, positively cannot manage the load they announced.

If you decided to settle (and you know, it upsets me), at least wait to be served. And if you are resolved to fight, just imagine what will happen if everyone files a simple Answer to Complaint denying wrongdoing, but each with an individual twist: the crooks will pop as soap bubbles when they attempt to file oppositions to 100+ Answers.

And, getting back to the topic, what is going to happen if every one of these 100+ defendants requests an $85K bond to be posted?

If you ask Steele, he will tell you a different story: you know him. Don’t be gullible. Don’t listen to him. Don’t listen to me. Simply turn on the common sense and do the 4th grade level math.



I was pointed to the fact that Morgan Pietz filed a similar motion to furnish security in an individual Prenda/Lihghspeed case back in September, so it maybe unfair that I dedicated lots of praise to Nick and did not mention Morgan. On the other hand, I know that many attorneys, including those two, exchange ideas all the time, and it really does not matter who came up first with a particular approach. What matters is that both Nick and Morgan (and many others) do a terrific job of healing our system from the trolling disease.


On 10/26 Nick Ranallo replied to an angry Prenda’s opposition with Memo in support of defendant’s motion to post undertaking. Mr. Ranallo, not resorting to emotions, absolutely ignoring ad hominem attacks (kudos for that: for the majority of people — even good people — it’s admittedly not an easy task), calmly and professionally killed each troll’s “argument.” The following quote from the Nick’s response deserves applause. Seriously (emphasis is mine):

Plaintiff argues that Defendant has articulated no need for security in the instant case. However, as recognized by this court, the need for security arises precisely because of the Plaintiff’s status as a non-resident and the difficulty that can be expected in enforcing a judgment against Plaintiff. This need is even more pressing in the instant case, as Plaintiff herein appears to engage in no business beyond the filing of lawsuits.

Plaintiff’s opposition opines that no security is necessary, since Defendant can easily attach any of Plaintiff’s judgments. See ECF No. 21 at 11. There are two fundamental problems with this. First, Plaintiff does not appear to have ever actually obtained judgment against a California defendant. Second, as laid out in Defendant’s original brief and this reply, Plaintiff’s copyright claims are extremely specious and are based on admittedly insufficient evidence. Thus, defendant doubts Plaintiff’s ability to actually obtain judgment on future claims in this state. Defendant likewise expects a long line of prevailing defendants with whom he must compete to attach any judgment that is ultimately obtained by AF Holdings during the course of this campaign. Simply put, Plaintiff is engaged in a highly questionable litigation campaign and would like Mr. Trinh, a victim of that campaign, to place his hopes for recompense on the success of the campaign. Mr. Trinh is acutely aware of the weakness of Plaintiff’s claims, and has no confidence that AF Holdings’ other suits will result in an attachable judgment of sufficient size to satisfy an award of costs and fees in the instant action.


Nick’s motion has been GRANTED! Motion underwent a “haircut,” but still the judge ordered Prenda to deposit $48,000 within 30 days or face dismissal!


On 11/14 Gibbs filed a motion for reconsideration. Seems that he does not want to deposit a bond, even such a negligible amount as $48,000, especially if he has no doubt that he wins in the end of the day.


On 02/01/2013 a judge on another similarly frivolous (and very active) case, AF Holdings v. Joe Navasca (CAND 12-cv-02396), granted Nicholas Ranallo’s motion to post undertaking requiring plaintiff (a fake entity AF Holdings — a mere facade for Steele & Co.) to post a $50,000 bond. Read this beautiful order by Judge Chen. “Coopergate” maybe was not instrumental in granting Nick’s motion, but definitely played a big role (emphasis is mine):

[…] based on the evidence of record, there are serious questions as to whether AF has standing to sue for infringement because of the “Alan Cooper” issue. Notably, in spite of a declaration from an Alan Cooper suggesting that AF or persons or entities affiliated with AF have fraudulently used his identity, AF has made no effort to provide any evidence to counter the declaration. AF could have, but did not, present a declaration from its own Alan Cooper or a declaration from its manager and/or CEO. As the Court stated at the hearing, even if there was a sufficient transfer for purposes of the Copyright Act, which focuses on proper authorization by the copyright transfer or, not the transferee, that is a separate issue from (1) whether AF has Article III standing in this Court to assert infringement based on claimed ownership of the copyright at issue and (2) whether AF is a real party in interest with capacity and authority to sue. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 17. The “Alan Cooper” issue raises serious questions that remain unanswered.


On 12/7 Judge Breyer denied Gibbs’s motion:

Plaintiff’s final argument, that the Court’s Order is “inapposite to [the] principle” that the “United States is supposed to demonstrate leadership in promoting the rule of law” is simply hyperbolic. Although the Court recognizes, and recognized in its Order, that posting an undertaking of any real amount is inconvenient to Plaintiff, see Order at 3 (reiterating Plaintiff’s concern that undertaking would bar it from proceeding in any copyright case and concluding that undertaking should be “no greater than necessary”), Plaintiff’s doomsday predictions about the fate of commerce in California, see Mot. at 9 (“many organizations might simply choose to exclude California residents from accessing their businesses”) strain its credibility. Only this case is before the Court, and Defendant has met his burden in this case.




¹After reading Prenda’s opposition one more time, I’m not so sure about the authorship: despite the fact that Gibbs signed this document, it very well may be John Steele himself — I hear some familiar hysterical notes: “There is no finer opposing counsel than one who declines to research the law,” “Mr. Ranallo would have done well to remember his role,” “His client’s future hangs in the balance. Instead of engaging in cathartic name-calling, Mr. Ranallo should have focused on the legal issues that control his client’s destiny.” “If Mr. Ranallo had spent his time conducting legal research…” etc.

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60 responses to ‘Nick Ranallo to Prenda: “Put your money where your mouth is”

  1. Marvelous post about a marvelous strategy and hope all Doe Defenders will follow suit against these shell corporations in pending and subsequent matter. Likewise, while actual numbers are in flux, of the approximate 20,000 Does in Prenda’s database only 100-150 have been filed against individually with less than 15 having been actually served with process. Percentages are even lower or nonexistent with other extortion groups.

  2. It’s a good idea to do this with Malibu Media as well. As Good Guy Fantalis put it in one of his documents in his case, MM is no doubt a shell corporation created solely to sue people, and purposely underfunded so as to never have to pay out if they lose a suit.

  3. This is fantastic! Brett Gibbs has done more good for the cause than any other trollawyer with his bumbling and stumbling in the face of skeptical judges. Between having to admit his firm hasn’t served any defendants and having to admit that a collected IP address is insufficient to positively identify a copyright infringer, he’s laid out quite a bit of groundwork for Ranallo to cite here.
    My hat’s off to Ranallo for using trollawyer’s own words against them to build the case for demanding a deposit. And a smirking finger in the air to Mr Gibbs.

  4. This is a great read. I’m excited to see what happens with this. Defendants are expected to foot a huge bill to defend themselves but Plaintiff’s aren’t supposed to bear any burden whatsoever during proceedings?!

    Steele’s been quiet lately what with his Twitter account deleted and no responses to recent comments on this site. I wonder if he finally enrolled in a 12 step program. The first step is admitting you have a problem. Or in his case . . . problems.

  5. this is not the only case where a motion like this was filed. infact it reads almost exactly the same as the pietz motion against lightspeed. “gibs has said that the need more evidence in a case to know who the infringer is but has not sought out that adt’l info here” and other such things

    Click to access Ds-Mtn-for-P-to-Furnish-Undertaking-CCP-1030-CONFORMED-lean.pdf

    in the lightspeed case at least being in state court it removes the “this is a state statute and a federal claim” argument from the plaintiff. i really do hope in both cases the plaintiffs are forced to shell out the cash.

  6. I just ran across an incredibly interesting and possibly applicable legal concept for the state of CA, along with VA, PA, TX, and WA; Barratry is the filing of frivolous or harassing lawsuits. Granted, these are misdemeanors in all the states above (except TX, where it becomes a felony on second and later offenses), but if the trolls are convicted of this time and time again, it shows a pattern of behavior that may be helpful in future defense cases in those states. If this has been brought up before, I apologize, but I immediately thought of this site when I ran into it.

    • Nick caught a nice example of Gibbs conflating criminal and civil law. I guess that runs in the Prenda family, unless Steele is ghostwriting these filings.

      • Since your’s comments caught in spam filter often, don’t hesitate to send me an email (and everyone else please do) if you don’t see your comment immediately. I won’t react at once, but eventually will, usually in hours. The amount of spam becomes unmanageable. So far I could browse the spam folder and restore false positives twice a day. Yesterday the count of spam in the folder was 1000+, so soon I will have no choice but to clean spam without browsing and only restore messages that I know about: i.e. I received an email (please include approximate time). I’ll make an announcement in General discussions.

    • I’m not a lawyer, and understand only a fraction of what’s contained in all these various filings. However, I read this reply and understood (I think) most of it, and all I can say is “That’s freaking awesome!”. I cannot see how a judge could possibly rule against Nick and his client. It was a beautiful piece of work.

    • Nick Ranallo is light years ahead of Gibbs and it shows. He systematically takes apart all of Gibbs’ arguments citing Gibbs’ own admissions, binding precedent, non-binding but compelling rulings in other district courts, and statutory law, then delivers the death blow on page 9 right before his conclusion.

      The difference between Gibbs (or any other troll) and Ranallo (or any other troll victim defendant’s counsel) couldn’t be more obvious. Gibbs devoted an entire section in his response to Ranallo’s motion, five whole paragraphs of ad hominem attacks entitled “A Brief Statement Regarding Defendant’s Counsel.” Oh, that just OOZES class Brett. Talk about unprofessional. Mr. Ranallo, on the other hand, doesn’t give it any attention (which is what Gibbs wants) and sticks to the law.

  7. Author of the post (SJD? so hard to tell these days) makes an interesting comment in the footnote above: who actually wrote the opposition to the bond request? You don’t have to read it all that closely to pick up a LOT of snark:
    “There is no finer opposing counsel than one who declines to research the law”
    “Mr. Ranallo would have done well to remember his role”
    “His client’s future hangs in the balance. Instead of engaging in cathartic name-calling, Mr. Ranallo should have focused on the legal issues that control his client’s destiny.”
    “If Mr. Ranallo had spent his time conducting legal research…”

    Having read a few of Gibbs’ documents in the past, this doesn’t exactly sound like him. All of this ‘I’m a better lawyer than you’, ‘my cock is bigger than yours’ machisimo bullshit has the reek of every comment that Steele has ever made pretty much anywhere. Then again, not that it really matters – it’s pretty common knowledge that the satellite smaller trolls pretty much just rubber stamp & file whatever crap their puppetmasters send their way.

    Anyhow, it’s pretty f’n hilarious that Steele … er … Gibbs … spends so much time building up Ranallo’s imaginary personal attacks on Prenda just to engage in his own petty “na-na-na-boo-boo” comments all throughout the opposition doc. That poor judge had to be doing an epic facepalm after reading all that.

  8. I love this part of the judge’s order 🙂

    “Defendant has demonstrated that Plaintiff is a foreign corporation. See Comp. (dkt.13) ¶ 2 (“Plaintiff AF Holdings LLC is a limited liability company organized and existing under the laws of the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.”). Defendant has also shown a reasonable probability that he will obtain a judgment in his favor. He has done so by noting that Plaintiff’s current evidence of infringement is weak.”

  9. I wonder if this tactic will work for Guava and Arte de Oaxaca?? Are those two entities considered “foreign holding corporations” ????

    • As far as I know, no one has been able to locate Guava or Oaxaca in the US, so there is a possibility that it might work. But I’m still not knowledgable on these subjects to say for certain

  10. This update is awesome awesome awesome!! Not only is Gibbs up the creek, but I think I now know why Steele/Prenda have been so quiet lately. With AF Holdings LLC now out in the open as far as being a foreign corp (like we all figured), what will this info open up? Will questions of tax evasion come to light, questionable IP tracking/software and who’s doing it. This is a big nail in the coffin.

    I have a slight suspicion that Prenda will take the dismissal to avoid paying money. I could be wrong though.

    • There needs to be a counterclaim filed in the case ASAP. Otherwise he can indeed dismiss. In the absence of a counterclaim before now, I can see the concern with the judge possibly not granting the undertaking demand, but now it may be the right time to file one. That way, dismissing isn’t so easy. In fact, with a counterclaim, a dismissal would be impossible.

    • By the way, forgot to mention before. Right now, as I am typing this, I can almost hear the keyboard in Gibbs’ office cranking out an appeal of the Undertaking Order. Gibbs has been slapped very hard and he won’t take it laying down. He’s arrogance personified, and he will never allow the invasion of his sandbox. There’s too much at stake, and he knows it.

      • Basically, Gibbs/Prenda is now fucked on the whole foreign holding thing. If you’re Gibbs you have only 2 options that I can see.

        1) Option 1 –:> Dismiss Now,all any defense attorney has to do is follow Ranallo’s course of action. A voluntary dismissal by Prenda, which may cost less than a settlement by hiring an attorney to duplicate Ranallo’s work, means prenda neither receives judgement or setlement $$$

        2) Option 2 –> Gibbs/Prenda fights. Stupid on their part. Judge already stated that judgement in favor of defendant is likely to prevail, but the only way to move forward is if plaintiff ponies up significant $$ upfront, which the judge already said they’d basically lose.

        So by dismissing, they’re sending the message to other defendants on what to do to get dismissed. Or, by ponying up, they stand to lose $$ rather than gain, which is against the business model. Gibbs/Prenda is in a dammed if you do dammed if you don’t situation regarding the foreign holding situation 🙂

        Personal opinion. Ranallo is now in the same league as Booth/Sweet, Huffman, Siever, and Erin Russell when it comes to fighting Prenda. Can you think of any attorneys that have been more of a thorn in the side of any of the abovementioned attorneys? .

        • I think Nick has been locking horns with Steele/Gibbs longer than any of the mentioned excellent Doe Defenders. He has long been one of the very best at defending Does and he does it mostly out of a personal disgust with the legal perversion that is copyright trolling.

  11. One wonders why Steele hasn’t graced us with his sharp wit and pointed out how we are all wrong that this is a bad thing….

        • Don’t kid yourself. Steele isn’t scared one bit. Take your hatred for trolls and multiply that by 100 for Steele’s hatred for anyone that opposes him. I truly believe he would blindly spend more trying to squash any Doe or Doe defender that opposes him than he could make in these lawsuits if he had to.

          One can only hope this is the eventual outcome and that he doesn’t figure it out before it’s too late. Based on his posts, tweets, motions, descriptions of how he throws tantrums, rants in the courtroom, etc. I really do think he is a sociopath.

          It’s killing him not to reply to these posts or on twitter because he thinks he is invulnerable. Sociopaths with delusions of grandeur can’t be convinced otherwise. He is a pathetic person who just doesn’t know it and that’s what makes him dangerous. Someone is keeping him in check and I just wish I knew who.

  12. No, he must be getting his Financial Statements and Bank records in order because the IRS Is coming soon! Who knows which other agencies they might bring to the party! Too many red flags!

    And we all know how “orderly” is their record keeping practice!

    See, he had a good racket going on and any seasoned crook would have cashed in all the chips and retire clean, but no, he succumbed to his arrogance and greed! Stupid troll!

  13. This order was way too funny. I couldn’t wait to read what the judge had to say about Gibbs saying California’s, nay, the entire US’s economy would collapse if the bond order was sustained.

  14. Wasn’t this line in the Gibbs motion quoted by Judge Breyer just plain insulting to the Court? Judge Breyer was being polite:

    “Plaintiff’s final argument, that the Court’s Order is “inapposite to [the] principle” that the “United States is supposed to demonstrate leadership in promoting the rule of law” is simply hyperbolic. ”

    Thanks for the nice excerpt, SJD.

    • I don’t like to read into what a judge puts into his Orders, but from my perspective, he didn’t take too kindly to Gibbs’ prediction that the world would end if he didn’t get his way. Typically, judges don’t play into the sky-is-falling routine, especially on Motions for Reconsideration.

      And by Gibbs claiming that the U.S. is supposed to be demonstrating leadership in promoting the rule of law, one must always remember that it is Gibbs’ Law he speaks of, and not the law of the land. Gibbs is in a state of delusion for thinking “his” law is above all others. But then again, he feels he is above the law also, so perhaps they are one and the same.

      Mr. Gibbs: I am thoroughly enjoying your show. Please do NOT stop, because if you do, my life will again become dull and boring. I haven’t had this much fun since my first time in high school. However, that is a discussion for another time and another blog.

  15. What happened in this case? Did they post bond or was the case dismissed for failure to post bond? Or other developments?

    • AF Holdings never posted the required bond, attempting to plead poverty as the reason. Effectively, the case is dismissed with the only remaining issue being if the dismissal will be with prejudice or without. Furthermore, just a few days ago, Gibbs filed for substitution on the case, with Duffy being his replacement. I would most likely expect this to be some kind of delaying tactic as the case is pretty much dead for AF Holdings; it’s just a question of the Judge letting Ranallo collect from Prenda.

      One interesting thing to note is that since Gibbs’ replacement in this case, Gibbs has file for replacement in a deluge of Northern and Eastern district cases for AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13. While I haven’t checked the dockets yet, I’m going to hazard a guess that Duffy will be filling in for him. It appears that Gibbs still has his Quad cases, but whether that will remain as such is unknown. It might be that Gibbs is being chucked out of the organization, or possibly being relocated or repurposed to manage local counsel. Recent filings by him still list the old Prenda email, however, he no longer labels himself as “of counsel” to Prenda.

      Like I said, it might be that Steele is tossing the Gibbster out. Black Tuesday in the Central District killed everything (save a single Quad case) they had in the nation’s largest federal district, effectively losing $20,000 in filing fees alone. All Prenda got out of it was a few possible settlements, a pissed-off federal judge, and a discovery motion that just won’t go away. Coupled with the emerging debacle in Northern District, which by the way, recently saw another bond being granted, and California is looking pretty toxic to Prenda. Altogether in California there are/ were approximately 135 AF Holdings and Ingenuity 13 individual cases and nearly $50,000 in just filing fees that have gotten very little return. No, I highly doubt that Steele has very kind things to say about Gibbs right now.

    • We give props to defense when they post well done motions, I think its worth pointing out the same for the just updated order from Judge Chen – very easy to read and follow his logic and he presents both sides of the argument while pointing out flaws (if any) on both sides in an understandable and thorough manner.

      • A few nice quotes:

        1.”The ‘Alan Cooper’ issue raises serious questions that remain unanswered.”

        2. “AF has done little to establish that Mr. Navasca engaged in improper spoliation.”

        3. “In any event, AF has now taken Mr. Navasca’s deposition. It has not shown it is without means to establish a likelihood that Mr. Navasca was the infringer. It has yet to do so.”

        4.” Not only is AF’s evidence that Mr. Navasca was the infringer weak, but also Mr. Navasca has presented a declaration in which he testifies that he did not download or share the video at issue.To the extent AF contends that the Court should discount the declaration because it is self-interested,that argument is not especially convincing.”

        5. And my favorite: “As a final point, the Court takes into consideration AF’s suggestion that, if the Court does infact require an undertaking, that will effectively deprive it of access to the Court because it will not be able to afford an undertaking. Here, once again, there are problems with AF’s position. First, it has offered no evidence to support its claim that it could not afford an undertaking. Second, any naked claim of inability to pay must be taken with a grain of salt, if only because AF has chosen to initiate multiple cases throughout the country and managed to pay the filing fees. Also, arguably, AF has been somewhat successful in getting some settlements through its lawsuits or presumably it would not have continued the lawsuits.”

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