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Skype founders sue former Joost boss

Trade secrets spat goes public

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The founders of Skype are suing Michael Volpi, the ex-chairman of Joost, for allegedly stealing trade secrets relating to the peer-to-peer technology shared by Skype and the web TV firm.

The two, Janus Friis and Niklas Zennstrom, have already taken legal action against eBay through their company Joltid, which they say owns the technology used by Skype. The action also names Silver Lake Partners and the other investors who agreed to buy Skype from eBay for $2bn earlier this month.

The filing to a Delaware court accuses Volpi of "the acts of a faithless fiduciary", and suggests he stole confidential and highly proprietary information. The Wall Street Journal has a copy of the document.

Joost, owned by Friis and Zennstrom, sacked Volpi last week and said it was investigating his actions while he was chief exec and chairman.

eBay paid $2.6bn for Skype and never really seemed to know what to do with it. Plans for an IPO were scuppered by the row over patents.

eBay had to warn the markets back in July that there were questions over its ownership of the central technology.

At one stage it looked like the online tat bazaar would sell Skype back to its founders, which was the fate of eBay's other baffling buy - StumbleUpon - which it sold back to its original owners in April.

Whatever the result of the various court cases now surrounding Skype, any quick and easy sale for eBay is now looking doubtful. ®

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