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Summary:

A New York judge refused to grant a summary judgment motion to Arianna Huffington — meaning that the liberal media icon may have to take the witness stand in coming months to rebut charges she stole the idea for the Huffington Post.

A bitter fight over who came up with the idea for The Huffington Post is set to go trial after a judge sided with two Democratic consultants over Arianna Huffington in a key ruling.

After a hearing on Tuesday, as reported by Law 360 (paywall), New York  judge Charles Ramos refused to side with Huffington as a matter of law, and said the dispute over the Huffington Post’s founding was a question of fact to be decided at trial.

This means that a jury is likely to hear the story of Peter Daou and James Boyce, former advisors to Presidential candidate John Kerry, who claim that they came up with the idea for a liberal news aggregator to counterbalance the influence of the conservative Drudge Report. In their lawsuit, filed in 2010, they say Huffington and her business partner, Ken Lerer, blatantly stole their detailed plan to build the website. Huffington sold her site to AOL for $315 million in 2011 and is now president and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group.

A Huffington Post spokesperson declined an email request for comment about Tuesday’s ruling. Partha Chattoraj, the attorney for Daou and Boyce, said by phone that the judge has scheduled a pre-trial conference for March 11, but declined to offer further comment.

Daou and Boyce won an initial victory in 2011 when Ramos refused to dismiss a claim based on a little-known New York state law that allows people to sue for misappropriation of an idea. In a 2013 ruling, the judge reinstated additional claims for fraud and unjust enrichment.

Although Huffington is appealing the earlier procedural rulings, Ramos’s decision on Tuesday means that the trial could go forward in the meantime, and require her to take the witness stand.

This story was corrected at 4:05ET to note the original lawsuit was filed in 2010, not 2011.

  1. Vampire. I casually mentioned that Zuckerberg, Arianna, and so many of the “geniuses” of new media are second tier idea poachers. I was flagged and eventually barred from posting on Der Huffington repost.

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  2. Wayne D. Michael Friday, February 21, 2014

    New York state law allows people to sue for misappropriation of an obvious idea??

    I had the exact same idea well before any of these folks did.

    It is an obvious idea, and I am sure a lot of other people had the same idea before I did.

    For whatever reasons, like her or not, A. Huffington had the idea AND made a successful business. The idea part is easy…. the business part is very very hard.

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    1. ACTUALLY that’s old mythology – the idea part is the hard part – you can get a million monkeys these days to build out anything you dream of – it’s called outsourcing. And, ideas ARE NOT a dime a dozen – just look at angelist which is rife with copy cat co’s – all being financed no less. Original ideas are gold. Google was founded on the simple idea of page rank, and combined with an idea from Goto/Overture of pay per click text ad placement, which truly made the profits rain in.

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    2. They seem to have stolen a detailed plan, not a mere idea.

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  3. Having said that – Huffpo was hardly an original idea. What made Huffpo Huffpo – was Arrianna’s relentless publicity in the MSM of all things. Ironic, I know.

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  4. Arianna Huffington might not be in this predicument had the Huffington Post been a lost cause. Like administrative advisers to John Kerry’s appointed Secretary of State in advisments and writing speeches, they were without interest of running an on line news reporting business. Aside from telling anyone how to do their job, including Joh Kerry, the weasily cockney quarreling fickles wanted someone to do the work and the weasliy cockney quarreling fickles would take the credit and profits, An idea without a business patent or signed contract that specifies the “Weasliy Cockney Quarreling Fickles Post” is even real.

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  5. There is a good feeling hunch that Arianna Huffington may come out of this legal claim of whos idea belongs to whom without turning over a king’s ransom.

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