The Social Network: Pinterest Sued by Man Claiming Investor Stole His Ideas
Okay, maybe the lawsuit being levied against Pinterest isn’t entirely like the one famously involving Facebook, but it’s close enough that people will inevitably make comparisons. It’s also not like Facebook was the first company sued for allegedly stealing ideas from an earlier enterprise. Either way, Pinterest and one of the company’s investors, Brian Cohen, are now embroiled in a lawsuit with Theodore Schroeder, who alleges that Cohen took ideas from a company the two were previously involved in and used them to catapult Pinterest to the top of the social network pile. See? Pretty familiar.
Schroeder has the usual allegations: Unjust enrichment, misappropriation, breach of fiduciary duty, and other similar points. How legitimate these claims are will obviously be borne out over time, but a spokesperson for Pinterest told AllThingsD, “The lawsuit against Pinterest is baseless and we will fight it aggressively.” Of course, it’s not like they’re going to admit wrongdoing at this point, but still.
Schroeder claims that he and a friend, Brandon Stroy, began working on a social network bulletin board called RendezVoo in 2005 while attending Columbia Law School. Schroeder alleges he came up with the idea for “boards” and infinite scrolling for the second version of the project, both of which eventually helped propel Pinterest to where it is today. None of this would matter if it weren’t for Cohen, who the RendezVoo people met with in 2007. Schroeder says that Cohen was provided with a business plan and the site’s concepts.
Cohen allegedly wanted to push Stroy out not long after becoming involved with the project, but Schroeder wasn’t having it, and the entire project sort of fell by the wayside. Once that happened, Schroeder claims that Cohen took what he’d seen and helped the Pinterest founders, Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp, develop their own social network. That’s the gist of things. How legitimate are the allegations? It’s too early to tell, but it certainly seems like Schroeder might have some ground to stand on.