Kara Swisher

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Exclusive: Skype Founders Keep on Punching–File Injunction Against Volpi and Index

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Joost and Joltid filed a motion for preliminary injunction against former Joost CEO Michelangelo Volpi and Index Ventures, where Volpi now works as a partner, asking that he not use knowledge or confidential information he got at the video start-up in current dealings with Skype.

The move is yet another legal attack from the founders of Skype, who were on the losing side of the $2 billion deal to buy the Internet telephony giant from eBay (EBAY).

Opening the “Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction,” which is shown below and is full of tough allegations about Volpi’s misbehavior:

“This action arises out of the acts of a faithless fiduciary, defendant Michelangelo Volpi, who, despite being the chief executive and Chairman of Joost, embarked on a systematic scheme to breach his fiduciary duties and promote his own self-aggrandizing campaign to become the next chairman of internet telephony leader Skype Inc.”

Volpi, who declined comment for now, was CEO of Joost, arriving at the much-hyped online video start-up to great fanfare in mid-2007.

But the London-based Joost never quite caught fire and began layoffs and contraction this summer.

As part of that development, Volpi then went to Index Ventures, a venture firm also based in London.

And, in one of Volpi’s first deals, Index was one of the smaller players on the winning side of the bid to buy Skype, putting up $75 million.

But also vying for the prize were the Internet telephony service’s founders, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, who had hooked up with a group of private equity investors.

To complicate things further, the innovative and entrepreneurial pair also own a company called Joltid, which has licensed key technology for Skype to eBay.

Joltid and eBay have been fighting in court over that agreement, bickering back and forth about whether eBay violated the terms of that deal or not.

Via Joltid, Zennström and Friis also filed suit again against Skype and its owner, eBay, for copyright violations in the U.S.

For good measure, they also added the winning buyout group, including Index, Silver Lake Partners, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.

And both Joltid and Joost–aka Zennström and Friis–also sued Volpi personally, as well as Index again.

They allege tech skullduggery on Volpi’s part, in which he used confidential information he learned at Joost to thwart Joltid.

UPDATE: Here is the press release, with the official filing below:

Joost and Joltid File Motion for Preliminary Injunction Against Michelangelo Volpi

And Index Ventures Management, Seeking to Prevent Their Use of Confidential Information In Connection With the Acquisition or Management of Skype

Wilmington, DE (Oct. 14, 2009)–Joost US, Inc., its indirect parent company Joost N.V., and Joltid Limited today filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction against Michelangelo Volpi and Index Ventures Management in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware. In support of the Motion, the plaintiffs also filed a Memorandum of Points and Authorities containing facts and legal arguments, witness declarations and other evidence.

The Motion for Preliminary Injunction asks the Court to enjoin Index and Volpi from using any of Joost’s and Joltid’s confidential information regarding (among other things) the Global Index Software, the technology developed and owned by Joltid that provides the peer-to-peer capability embedded in the Skype program. The Motion also asks the Court to enjoin the defendants from: (i) using the confidential information in connection with the operation or strategic planning of Skype; (ii) communicating such information to other parties in the “Buyout Group” that has made a bid to acquire Skype from eBay Inc.; (iii) soliciting employees of Joost and Joltid with offers to join Skype; (iv) having communications with current or former employees of Joost or Joltid regarding the companies’ confidential information; and (v) further participating in the Skype acquisition or assuming any position with Skype until a final adjudication of the merits of the case.

The Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Memorandum of Points and Authorities, and supporting declarations are available on the internet at https://www.lexisnexis.com/fileandserve. The case name is Joost US Inc. et al v. Volpi et al and the Case Number is 1:09-cv-708.

The plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the defendants on September 18, 2009, alleging breach of fiduciary duty against Volpi, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty against Index, interference with prospective business advantage, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract against Index, breach of confidence, and civil conspiracy. The Motion for Preliminary Injunction seeks interim relief until the lawsuit can be completed.

And here is the key filing, one of 10 in the case:


PI Brief – PUBLIC


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