Skype Founders' Injunction May Derail Skype Buyout

janusniklas Janus Friis and Niklas Zennström, the founders of Skype, though their Joltid and Joost businesses, are seeking an injunction against Mike Volpi and Index Ventures that would prevent Volpi and Index from completing a deal agreed to in September to buy Skype from eBay. Friis and Zennström sued Volpi and Index last month, after the $2-billion buyout of Skype was first announced, arguing that Volpi has unlicensed access to the source code that would allow Skype to work on the web without having to license the technology from Joltid.

The suit both looks like an attempt to keep the licensing revenue flowing to Joltid and reads like a vendetta against Volpi and Index. Volpi was the former CEO of Joost and is now a venture partner at Index, itself an investor in Skype and now part of a consortium hoping to buy Skype from eBay. Om writes that there’s no lost love between the parties. Indeed, with the injunction, it’s clear that the Skype founders are playing hardball.

In addition to preventing Volpi and Index from using confidential information in general, the injunction specifically asks that the judge keep Volpi and Index from using such information to operate Skype or engage in any strategic planning for the service; from talking about that info with the other members attempting to purchase Skype from eBay; from soliciting employees of Joost and Joltid with offers to join Skype; from communicating with current or former employees of Joost or Joltid regarding the companies’ confidential information; and from further participating in the Skype acquisition or assuming any position with Skype until a final adjudication of the merits of the case.

Basically the injunction — if granted in its entirety — would prevent the deal from going forward with Index or Volpi as part of the process. However, a judge could uphold portions of the injunction and merely make the deal a bit more complicated. It’s common practice in lawsuits to ask for the world and settle for a continent. Or in this case, ask for Volpi and Index to stop talking about and planning anything to do with Skype and settle for making the buyout more costly and time-consuming.

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