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Summary:

Rocketboom’s Andrew Baron alleged that VHX.tv stole some of his ideas, and threatened to take action against the site in a very public attack against the company on Twitter Wednesday night. Baron deleted the tweet soon after, but repeated his allegations in an email to us.

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It’s only been a few days since news broke about a $1.25 million Series A funding for New York City- and San Francisco-based video aggregation and distribution service VHX.tv, and there’s already the threat of a lawsuit over the money.

Rocketboom founder and CEO Andrew Baron alleged on Twitter late Wednesday night that he owns the rights for the idea behind VHX.

“The (intellectual property) contractually belongs to me. Not looking fwd to this,” he tweeted.

Magma and VHX.tv

When asked for clarification via email, Baron told me that his allegations center around a video aggregation site called Magma, which launched in 2009. Baron said that he essentially sees VHX as a clone of Magma. “Under the hood, its the same thing, exactly,” he wrote. “The same feature set exactly.”

Of course, there’s only so much one can innovate when it comes to some very generic aggregation functionality, and to be quite honest, much of what VHX is offering in the distribution space doesn’t seem to be at all related to Magma.

However, Baron claims that he has a kind of non-compete contract with VHX.tv co-founder Jamie Wilkinson, who previously worked for Baron on Magma. Wilkinson broke that contract when he launched VHX, he further alleged. VHX.tv strongly denied Baron’s allegations when contacted for this story, but declined to comment further.

Baron on the other hand told me that he has talked to lawyers about the matter, but that the news about the funding prompted him to step up his efforts. “I’ve reached out to one of his investors who I’ve communicated with before in case they would like to try to resolve it amicably,” he told me.

Asked whether he was prepared to sue VHX, Baron only said: “My lawyers have come up with a strategy that I’m comfortable with.” He declined to elaborate further.

Baron tweets his mind

Yesterday’s public out-lashing against VHX was part of a litany of tweets, fired off in a few minutes and deleted soon after, which conveyed a general sense of betrayal, a kind of me-vs-the-world sentiment. In it, Baron alleged that numerous former employees have turned against him over the years, taking ownership of his ideas and even his money. One tweet stated:

“Sadly, I can not get into the story now, but one day will be able to. Some folks literally extorted and that led to a cash settlement.”

It’s unclear which of his ventures Baron refered to with this allegation. Baron had a very public falling out with Rocketboom’s first host, Amanda Congdon in 2006, and later parted with much of the staff of the company’s popular Know Your Meme franchise.

  1. Don’t you know – when you work for “Trust Fund” Baron, he owns you and everything you do for the rest of your life?

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  2. Rocketboom is still around? Anyway, Andrew is the son of Fred Baron, the lawyer that funded the mistress of John Edwards, so I am sure he has plenty of lawyers ready to suit up to defend his honor. Does not sound like he has much of a case.

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  3. Both boast similar feature sets.

    Here’s the Magma feature set:

    And here is the VHX feature set, all of which are part of Magma:
    http://vimeo.com/22054779

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  4. As you can see from the VHX launch video, *ALL* of the features which are exhibited in the video are features that are included in Magma. Anyone care to dispute this?

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  5. Andrew baron Friday, June 22, 2012

    Hm, no one disputes the comparison? That’s right. Because you can’t.

    Just one anonymous troll who says I have a trust fund? (I have no trust fund).

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  6. Hm, no one disputes the comparison? That’s right. Because you can’t.

    Just one anonymous troll who says I have a trust fund when I dont?

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    1. If this is actually Andrew, I don’t think you are helping your case by these postings here.

      My comment only suggested with some background that you would definitely have the legal connections to properly pursue your claim and that your threat is probably not an idle one.

      My comment about not having much of a case is based on this line in the article:

      “Of course, there’s only so much one can innovate when it comes to some very generic aggregation functionality, and to be quite honest, much of what VHX is offering in the distribution space doesn’t seem to be at all related to Magma.”

      It would seem to me that absent some unique technology, you would have a tough time enforcing a claim against someone offering a similar service. However, it is suggested that you “kind of” have a non-compete agreement with the co-founder. I am not sure what that means, but it would seem to me that depending on the facts, maybe you have a case or maybe not, on those grounds. That claim sounds like you are getting into the Winklevoss/Zuckerberg kind of situation.

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      1. To Todd the Anonomous Troll: I have a contract theory Jamie that forbids him from doing what VHX does. That’s our unique contract.

        I wanted to address thIs point and also remind you that by creating lies and hate about off topic points like a trust fund? makes it clear you have no argument and ate indeed just pissed off about it.

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      2. Sorry Doug, wrong Anonomous troll. You were citing John Edwatds as relevant here.

        In my comment above there were spell check errors.

        This is what I want to say that is true:

        I have a contract with Jamie that forbids him from doing what VHX does. That’s our unique contract.

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  7. Sounds like the kind of guy who makes enemies.

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    1. the kind of guy who spends more time kicking up shit than creating things that will get him positive recognition.

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      1. If creating Rocketboom, Know Your Meme and Maga is kicking up shit, then allow me to join you with a +1 to the comment count.

        allow me to add another comment count to this article

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  8. Now that Ive returned to this article to find so many haters, I note that still yet, no one – not even all these haters — can come up with anything remotely close to a comment about how similar the features of VHX are to Magma. Its a ripoff and no one has even attempted to dispute this.

    So. Two facts: Jamie is not allowed to mimic Magma as our unique contract states. Jamie mimicked Magma.

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  9. Hikotimo Hamarashe Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Well, at least YEKRA.com isn’t in any litigation yet… And they are further down the path than all of these folks. Their solution rocks!

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  10. Both founders have a way of twisting stories to fit their needs: Wilkinson was hardly involved in the Star Wars project which gave the “team” their Emmy – I was an integral part of that and for early conversations of this project, but was cut out completely. Not surprised another entity feels ripped off, it’s what these guys do best.

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