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Settlement Likely In Suit Over Skype Sale; Founders May Take Stake

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A settlement in the litigation over eBay’s sale of a majority stake in Skype could be announced this week, the NYT reports. In September, Skype founders Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis sued eBay (NSDQ: EBAY) and the investment consortium that had agreed to pay $1.9 billion for a 65 percent stake in Skype. The NYT says that under a proposed settlement Zennstrom and Friis would get a stake in Skype, along with a board seat.

Zennstrom and Friis control Joltid, which licenses the peer-to-peer technology behind Skype. In their suit, they had alleged that Skype was infringing on Joltid’s copyrights, among other charges. The suit also took aim at Mike Volpi, a partner at Index Ventures, who had been CEO of Joost, another company started by Zennstrom and Friis, and who was accused of putting together the investment group by promising a workaround to Joltid’s P2P technology. Even before the sale agreement, Zennstrom and Friis had been mired in litigation with eBay over the license to the technology.

The NYT says that Index Ventures will now likely pull out of the investment group, which is led by Silver Lake Partners.

By taking what is described as a “significant” stake in Skype, Zennstrom and Friis would be fulfilling their desire to once again involve themselves directly in the internet calling service. In April, they were said to be actively looking to raise money to buy the company back.