Skype Founders File Copyright Suit Against eBay

Pulkit Chandna

A couple of weeks after eBay agreed to sell 65% of Skype to a group of investors, the founders of Skype, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, contrived to gatecrash eBay’s party. Joltid, a company in which the two Skype founders are stakeholders, filed a copyright lawsuit on Wednesday against Skype. Skype's founders retained control over the peer-to-peer technology at the VoIP client’s core even after selling Skype to eBay for $2.6 billion. They had agreed to license the source code to eBay.

Joltid has accused eBay of unlawfully modifying and sharing the source code . An adverse decision could even force eBay to shut down Skype until it can come up with an alternative version. The San Jose-based internet company has said that it is making arrangements to face any such eventuality. However, the presence of a contingency plan should not be construed as a lack of confidence on its part. “We remain on track to close the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2009,” an eBay spokesperson said.

Analyst Jeffrey Lindsay of Sanford C. Bernstein believes he has pinned down Joltid’s real motive behind the lawsuit . According to Jeffrey, Joltid is still smarting from its failed bid to buy back Skype earlier this year. And that it now wants to preclude the sale of Skype until it is presented with “a financial settlement or the opportunity to buy the business back themselves at a lower price than Silver Lake, et al are offering."

This lawsuit is an extension of Joltid’s legal onslaught against eBay – and Skype’s potential buyers. It fired the first salvo in March, when it filed a similar case against eBay in a London court.

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