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Skype founders sue current Skype owners

by Sylvie Barak on 17 September 2009, 10:57

Tags: Skype

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Talk is cheap, but lawsuits aren’t

Skype is being sued by a peer-to-peer software company established by its original founders, for purportedly infringing on the smaller firm's technology "at least 100,000 times each day."

P2P firm, Joltid - created by Skype's founders and the team who made Kazaa in 2001 - filed a copyright suit against the VoIP outfit this Wednesday in Northern California U.S. District Court, seeking both an injunction and damages "at a rate of $75 million daily."

The lawsuit is the latest ugly chapter in an ongoing feud over licensing between Skype and its founders. Ebay and the consortium of investors who now own a 65 per cent share of Skype are named as defendants in the suit.

When Ebay bought Skype from co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom back in 2006, the pair had managed to hang on to rights for Skype's peer-to-peer technology, Global Index Software. Friis and Zennstrom then licensed out that very technology to Skype, via their other firm, Joltid.

But it all turned sour when Joltid decided to terminate the software license, claiming that Skype had used unauthorised versions of the source code and, worse still, had tinkered with it and passed it around to third parties.

A Joltid (or should we say "jilted") company spokesman released a statement saying Skype had "infringed Joltid's copyrights," adding, "Joltid will vigorously enforce its copyrights and other intellectual property rights in all of the technologies it has innovated."

The quarreling couple is airing its differences in UK courts as well, with a case over the P2P license termination set to go to trial in June 2010.

An Ebay spokesperson told US press this most recent lawsuit's claims were "without merit" and were "founded on fundamental legal and factual errors." Be that as it may, it's not going to make things any easier for Ebay, which has been trying to offload its expensive $2.6 billion Skype acquisition for some time now.


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Been reading about this allot on techdirt for a while. ebay really screwed up when they bought skype for not securing all of it.