A lawsuit filed yesterday by Theodore F. Schroeder claims that Pinterest investor Brian S. Cohen stole the idea for the social sharing service.
The suit, which was first reported in AllThingsD, claims that Schroeder “originated the ideas that led to the popular, ever-growing Pinterest website.” It presents a fairly detailed account of the development of a site called Redezvoo.com, and its spinoff, Skoopwire.com. The products were developed by Schroeder and two of his Columbia Law School classmates, who eventually brought on Cohen as the company’s chairman and CEO, according to the suit.
Eventually, the company stalled, which Schroeder blames on Cohen’s alleged efforts to claim more ownership and push one of the Skoopwire founders out. Meanwhile, the suit claims that Cohen struck a “Faustian deal,” giving Schroeder’s idea to the team that then launched Pinterest.
Asked for comment, Pinterest sent me a brief statement: “The lawsuit against Pinterest is baseless and we will fight it aggressively.”
So what are the big ideas that Schroeder is claiming Cohen stole? Here’s how the lawsuit describes the similarities between Rendezvoo/Skoopwire and Pinterest:
Now, I’m neither a technical expert nor a lawyer, but I was struck by how broad some of those ideas are — if they were the kind of thing you could sue over, I’d imagine that the flood of Pinterest clones and “Pinterest for X” websites would be in trouble.
As for why Schroeder waited several years to sue, the suit claims that after Pinterest launched, a number of people pointed out that it was similar to Rendezvoo, but he “had no idea and could not have known that Cohen was in any way involved in Pinterest.” He became aware that Cohen was an investor after reading a Mashable article about him that was published in March of this year. (In fact the suit, which I’ve embedded below, includes what might be the most detailed parsing of a Mashable article that I’ve ever seen.)
I’ve also contacted Schroeder’s attorney and Cohen for comment, and will update if I hear back.View this document on Scribd