A lawsuit was filed in a California court on May 14 against the transportation network company Uber Technologies Inc. as well as its two founders by a businessman who claims that he came up with the idea for the mobile app first. Several of Uber's investors were also named in the lawsuit. The entrepreneur claims that he developed a business model in 2002 that he later shared in confidence with two individuals. One of the individuals went on to become Uber's CEO while the other invested in the San Francisco-based company. Uber was founded in 2009 and now operates in 57 countries.
The lawsuit seeks compensation and punitive damages for breach of contract and the misappropriation of trade secrets. The plaintiff claims that the theft of his idea may have cost him as much as $1 billion. A statement released by Uber said that the allegations contained in the lawsuit were groundless and vowed that the company would mount a vigorous defense.
The attorney representing the entrepreneur will also face Uber attorneys in two other legal actions. He is representing the family of a 6-year-old girl who was struck and killed by an Uber taxi in San Francisco in December 2014, and he is a co-counsel in a lawsuit brought against Uber by 19 taxi companies. The taxi businesses claim that Uber's advertising regarding its safety record misleads consumers.
Litigation over trade secrets is often highly complex, and claims of intellectual property theft can be difficult to prove. However, the damages awarded in this kind of lawsuit can be significant. An attorney with experience in this area may assess the merits of a potential intellectual property claim and could offer advice regarding the amount of time and money that will be required to pursue it.
Source: CBS News, "Uber founders sued, accused of stealing idea", May 15, 2015