Skype founders suing eBay

The $US1.9 billion sale of Skype to a group of US, London and Canadian investors is under threat, after Skype’s founders launched a copyright lawsuit against Skype’s owner eBay.

Joltid, a peer-to-peer software company owned by Skype’s founders, has accused Skype of infringing on its technology “at least 100,000 times each day” in the United States, CNet says. The company has also filed a copyright suit against Skype in the UK.

“The Skype companies have continued to infringe Joltid’s copyrighted works on a massive scale,” the lawsuit says.

“Each day that the Skype Companies continue to make available its internet telephone software for download, Skype users download Joltid’s copyrighted works approximately six times per second.”

Joltid is seeking a permanent injunction against Skype and damages, which it says reaches $US75 million a day. eBay denies the allegations.

“Their allegations and claims are without merit and are founded on fundamental legal and factual errors,” eBay spokesman John Pluhowski said in a statement.

The suit is the latest development in an ongoing copyright dispute between the Skype technology developers and eBay, which bought the VOIP provider for $2.6 billion in 2005.

Co-founders Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom say Joltid holds the intellectual property rights to several key VOIP applications which it has licensed to a number of companies, including Skype.

Joltid’s lawsuit was filed in California two weeks after eBay announced its intended sale of a 65% stake in Skype to private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, London-based Index Ventures, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

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