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Skype sale threatened by new lawsuit

Joost's former CEO accused of sharing secrets

Another legal challenge threatens to derail eBay's planned sale of Skype to a group of investors, with the filing of a suit against Joost's former CEO.

Joost and Joltid, companies owned by the founders of Skype, filed a suit in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware against Michaelangelo Volpi and Index Ventures Management. The suit charges Volpi, who left Joost for Index earlier this year, with breach of fiduciary duty, interference with prospective business advantage, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of confidence and civil conspiracy. Index is one of the organisations that agreed to buy a stake in Skype from eBay.

The suit asks that Volpi and Index be required to return confidential documents that were taken from Joost and that they be prevented from using any of the misappropriated trade secrets.

Volpi stepped down as Joost CEO in July and joined Index. Shareholders later voted him off the board of directors and removed him as chairman of Joost.

The suit in the chancery court follows one that Joltid filed earlier this week against Skype. That suit, filed in California, charges Skype, eBay, Silver Lake Partners and others with copyright infringement. The dispute concerns an agreement that eBay made when it bought Skype in 2005. The acquisition did not include Skype's peer-to-peer networking technology, which is owned by Joltid and was licensed to Skype.

Earlier this year Joltid terminated the licence agreement. Joltid and Skype have since argued over the validity of the termination in courts in England.

Both suits filed this week appear aimed at derailing eBay's proposed sale of 65 percent of Skype to a group of investors led by Silver Lake.

While eBay did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the Joost lawsuit, earlier this week it said the transaction would continue. "We remain on track to close the transaction in the fourth quarter of 2009," the company said in a statement following the Joltid suit against Skpe.

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