Skype Founders Sue Ebay Over Patent Infringement

The creators of Skype, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, have filed a lawsuit against the popular VoIP company that they sold to Ebay in 2006 over intellectual property rights that they own and licensed to Skype.

The problem - for original purchaser of Ebay and the consortium that owns 65 percent of Skype - is that when the transaction was carried out in 2006, everything but the underlying P2P technology was included in the deal.

The intellectual property behind this fundamental piece of the Skype solution is actually owned by Joltid, a P2P video company that was later created by the co-founders.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the pair is seeking "an injunction against Skype and statutory damages for copyright infringements" and the damages could run in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

A nifty piece of technology called "Global Index" is what Skype is being accused of using without the appropriate license; to make things even worse, the pair claims that Ebay has managed to alter the code in the "Global Index" without permission.

But Ebay rejected the accusations saying that "Their allegations and claims are without merit and are founded on fundamental legal and factual errors."

Our Comments

The purchase of Skype by the consortium could have been the start of a long saga which could turn ugly if a middle ground is not found. In the hindsight, it was certainly a dumb decision not to buy EVERYTHING and leave the licenses outside.

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