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3 January 2013

Pinterest in lawsuit after claims it stole the idea for the site

Rachel Hawkes, account director, Elemental By Rachel Hawkes

Pinterest logoPopular visual pin board that was considered the new standout star in the social media world last year is preparing for a busy 2013.  Pinterest ended the year with a lawsuit filed by Theodore F. Schroeder of New Jersey, claiming the company used his ideas and technology in building Pinterest.

According to the lawsuit (embedded below), in 2005 Schroeder had the idea for a location based bulletin board called RendezVoo (RDV), which he built himself with the backing and assistance of two friends from law school.  A year later, Schroeder and his two partners further expanded the scope of the website to, according to the lawsuit, ‘have its social networked bulletin boards share more than its users’ locations’ users could share any interest they had, which, as memorialized in RDV’s business plan, RDV was a “Website where people could meet to share opinions, views, items and tastes on a variety of subjects – products, services, events, politics, economics – nearly anything of human interest.”  The second version of RendezVoo introduced ‘boards’ for users to post their interests, and infinite scroll so users could browse large amounts of data; two key features of Pinterest.

Schroder claims that they sought investment to further develop the site, and that search led them to Brian S. Cohen – one of the early investors of Pinterest.  The concept of RendezVoo evolved following Cohen’s involvement because, as Schroeder claims in the lawsuit, Cohen’s difficulty in understanding the model of the site.  RendezVoo became Skoopwire and was to focus solely on product discovery through user sharing – with the lawsuit stating, “Pinterest’s primary business model as described in the media is product discovery through friends.”

Schroeder accuses Cohen of stalling development and souring relationships between the other stakeholders so that he could use the concepts and technology for a venture that he had more control and investment in.  Schroeder is suing Cohen and Pinterest Inc. after reading an article on Mashable in March 2012 about Cohen being an early investor, however he was aware for some years before about the similarity of Pinterest and RendezVoo and Skoopwire for some time before (as also pointed out to him by friends familiar with his venture he says).

Schroeder’s lawyer had the following to say to AllThingsD (that first reported the lawsuit), “Schroeder’s attorney, Richard Scheff of Montgomery McCracken, emailed the following comment: ”The bottom line is that it’s illegal to steal an idea for your own benefit without regard to the originator of that idea. Here, Mr. Cohen joined an existing enterprise in which Mr Schroeder had a majority interest, and then took without permission or right Mr. Schroeder’s ideas, concepts, web application and technology.”

According to AllThingsD, Cohen has so far not replied to its request for a comment.

Pinterest lawsuit

Categories: Technology, Social media, News

Tags: Pinterest, lawsuit, copyright, RendezVoo, Skoopwire, pin board

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