The Great Skype Intellectual property fiasco
Posted September 17, 2009on:
Joltid, already busy suing in the U.K., has filed a copyright suit against Skype, claiming infringement in the U.S. of at least “100,000 times” per day and seeking injunction and damages of $75 million daily. Rumors of backdoor deals with Skype’s founders to enable Skype to be sold and IPO’ed seem to be greatly WRONG.
Apparently — or maybe not, since the case hasn’t gone to court yet — eBay bought Skype for around $2.6 billion but Janus Friis and Zennstrom retained the rights to Skype’s peer-to-peer technology via Joltid…which, if true, kinda begs the question why eBay did the deal in the first place if they didn’t get clear rights to the underlying technology and source code.
Joltid terminated its license after Skype had allegedly got their hands on source code, made unauthorized modifications and disclosed the software to third parties.
Of course, the U.S. lawsuit smacks a bit of opportunism since eBay recently cut a deal to sell off Skype to a group of private investors — who are also getting sued. The investment firms are Silver Lake Partners, Index Ventures Management, and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. So, either there are a lot of people who did some really really crappy due diligence and/or Joltid suddenly seems to have a big case of respect for IP issues that its founders didn’t seem to have back in the good old Kazza days.
Rumors are that Skype is working on code to dump Joltid tech, but updating 400 million users overnight one day sounds like a pretty fun talk. There’s also the issue of the new SILK codec which is free and available and what skeletons does it have in the closet?
Regardless, this will not end well for someone. Or everyone.