snapchat files restraining order
December 10, 2013

Snapchat Files Restraining Order Against Ousted Co-Founder

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Snapchat has a moment in its company history that it wishes would fade into the ether, just like the fleeting videos sent using its app. Since the start-up app developer can't delete this memory, it has filed a temporary restraining order against Frank Reginald Brown to keep him from revealing confidential information to the media.

Brown allegedly disclosed confidential information about the company to media outlets, Reuters reports. Court documents containing the restraining order were filed in the US District Court Central District of California. The restraining order is part of a lawsuit, Frank Reginald Brown vs. Snapchat Inc et al., 2:13-cv-08569. Brown claims that he was an original founder, and came up with the idea of messaging videos that would self-delete.

The motion for a restraining order was posted by TechCrunch. The filing contained the following excerpt:

"The requested relief is necessary to prevent great or irreparable injury to Snapchat. Snapchat has produced substantial amounts of commercially sensitive and private information in this case, including among other things highly confidential financial and investment information related to Snapchat’s business, sensitive information regarding Snapchat’s business plans, and private, personal communications of individual third parties subject to rights of privacy under the California Constitution. Plaintiff and his counsel purport to reserve the right to disclose any and all such information to the public at any time. Indeed, plaintiff has apparently scheduled imminent 'exclusive' interviews with additional media outlets to discuss this case. In the absence of the relief sought, it is highly likely that plaintiff and his counsel will commit additional violations of the Protective Order."

The restraining order is fallout from a lawsuit filed by Reggie Brown, saying that the concept behind Snapchat was his idea. Videos of depositions with Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel, CTO Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown were posted by Business Insider in November.

In the restraining order document, Snapchat counsel Quinn Emanuel states that Brown has refused to comply with the protective order. The protective order stipulates that information provided in the ongoing lawsuit, Frank Reginald Brown vs. Snapchat Inc, must be kept confidential. If Brown spoke to the press about any details of the case, it would be a violation of the terms of the protective order.

However, there may be more at stake than the reputation of the founders of Snapchat, the company alleges. TechCrunch reports that Snapchat says it will incur irreparable harm if its confidential information were to enter the public arena. The company has submitted materials detailing future business plans.

Snapchat remains a private company. It recently turned down a buyout offer from Facebook reported to be worth $3 billion.

The events are reminiscent of the suit filed by the Winklevoss brothers against Facebook, alleging that Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg on an idea that they hired him to work on. The suit was dismissed in July 2011. However, the Winklevoss brothers were given shares of Facebook valued at $65 million, which have increased in value since the time they were issued.