MIT Alum, Hollywood Lawyer Who Helped Kill Gawker File New Libel Suit in Boston

Shiva Ayyadurai demands $15 million from Techdirt for disputing his claim that he invented email at age 14.
Photograph by Miller Mobley for "Return to Sender"

Photograph by Miller Mobley for “Return to Sender

Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai, the MIT alum who purportedly invented email at age 14, filed a $15 million libel suit Thursday against the tech website Techdirt over several articles disputing his claim.

Ayyadurai accuses Techdirt founder Mike Masnick of “publishing fake news and 14 defamatory articles. In addition to punitive damages, demands a public retraction.

The offending posts include: “Why is Huffington Post Running a Multi-Part Series to Promote the Lies of a Guy Who Pretended to Invent Email?“; “Guy Who Didn’t Invent Email Sues Gawker for Pointing Out He Didn’t Invent Email“; and “Ridiculous: Nick Denton Settles Remaining Charles Harder Lawsuits, Agrees To Delete Perfectly True Stories.”

Ayyadurai previously sued the now-defunct Gawker Media over “false and highly defamatory articles” on Gizmodo calling him a “fraud,” “renowned liar,” and a “big fake.” He received a $750,000 settlement in November, which he called a “historic victory for truth.”

Ayyadurai is once again represented by Hollywood lawyer Charles Harder, who represented Hulk Hogan in the sex-tape lawsuit that ultimately spelled Gawker’s demise. Both suits against Gawker were widely believed to be funded by billionaire Silicon Valley investor and Trump supporter Peter Thiel. In interviews with Yahoo and Forbes, Ayyadurai denied any involvement by Thiel.

Married to actress and comedienne Fran Drescher, Ayyadurai currently operates the International Center for Integrative Systems in Cambridge, claims to have invented email while working as a research fellow at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. However, Ray Tomlinson, who died of a heart attack last March, is popularly credited with inventing email while working at Cambridge’s Bolt, Beranek, and Newman in 1971.

You can read Ayyadurai’s full complaint against Techdirt here.


Kyle Scott Clauss Kyle Clauss, Digital News Writer at Boston Magazine bmagdigital+kclauss@gmail.com