September 19, 2009

Skype Founders File Another Suit Against eBay

Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis filed another lawsuit on Friday against eBay's plans to sell the Web-based communications service.

Joltid and Joost, two firms owned by Zennstrom and Friis, filed a lawsuit in a Delaware court against former Joost CEO Mike Volpi and Index Ventures, a London-based investment firm working to acquire Skype from eBay.

The lawsuit accuses Volpi, a partner in Index Ventures, of using his previous position at online video portal Joost to "misappropriate" trade secrets used to assemble the bid for Skype.

The lawsuit was filed just two days after Joltid named eBay, Skype and the group of investors seeking to purchase Skype from eBay as defendants in a copyright infringement lawsuit.  Joltid also filed a lawsuit against Skype in a British court in March.

EBay dismissed the previous complaint as "without merit," saying it expected the sale of Skype to move ahead as planned.

EBay acquired Skype from Zennstrom and Friis in 2005 for more than $ 3.1 billion.  According to some reports, Zennstrom, a Swede, and Friis, a Dane, have been seeking to buy back the company that made them billionaires.

However, eBay announced two weeks ago it is selling a 65 percent share of Skype to private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, Index Ventures, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz for roughly $2 billion two billion.

Luxembourg-based Skype, whose services bypass the traditional telephone network by channeling voice and video calls over the Internet, allows Skype users to call others free of charge.  It also allows users the ability to place calls to other landlines or mobile phones at low rates.


On the Net: