This season’s finale of Silicon Valley provided Richard with only the briefest moment of victory before he once again faces losing Pied Piper. First, the arbitrator rules that because Richard used a Hooli computer while developing Pied Piper, under the invention assignment provision of Richard’s employment agreement with Hooli, Hooli would have the right to Pied Piper’s technology. However, because the employment agreement also contained unlawful non-compete provisions, the arbitrator held that the entire employment agreement was unenforceable, including the invention assignment portion. Therefore, Hooli had no right to Pied Piper’s technology, and Richard won! In the meantime, the Pied Piper team triumphs by successfully livestreaming the condor cam video to 200,000 viewers—including Laurie, the head of Raviga Capital. Laurie is so impressed with the technology that once Hooli loses the arbitration, Raviga buys out Russ’s stake in Pied Piper. Raviga now controls three of Pied Piper’s five board seats: Russ’s two seats plus the seat filled by Monica as Raviga’s designee. However, Laurie is also underwhelmed by Richard’s performance as CEO. After gaining control of the board, Raviga promptly votes its majority control to remove Richard as CEO of Pied Piper. Continue Reading
In Episode 17, Hooli’s lawsuit appears to be nearing its end – with Hooli poised as the apparent victor. In Episodes 9 and 10 the show had positioned the case so we thought Pied Piper was sure to win. What happened? The impact of a rogue witness should not be underestimated. Continue Reading
Episode 16 culminates with a disastrous end to the Intersite bake-off, and highlights an issue that’s cropped up in several episodes: troublesome or under-performing board members. To recap, Pied Piper is competing against nemesis Endframe in a “bake-off” to win a $15 million contract with Intersite. In the course of the bake-off, Pied Piper’s (formerly) billionaire investor and board member, Russ Hanneman, unknowingly sets a tequila bottle on the delete key of Richard’s laptop causing the deletion of 9,000 hours of Intersite’s premium content, and Pied Piper loses the bake-off. Continue Reading
There are so many legal issues in Episode 15 that it’s hard to know where to begin, so I’m going to start at the end: porn. Pied Piper is competing against nemesis Endframe for a $15 million contract from the online porn company Intersite. If Pied Piper wins the contract it will allow Pied Piper to stay afloat and avoid being absorbed and obliterated by Endframe. Continue Reading
Previously we’ve discussed Hooli’s reverse engineering of Pied Piper’s technology and the threatened lawsuit for ownership of the technology. In Episode 14, Pied Piper faces a new threat: Endframe, a Pied Piper competitor, has also stolen Pied Piper’s technology, in collusion with VC firm Branscomb Ventures. This started back in Episode 10, when the Pied Piper team pitched to Branscomb and were “brain raped.” The team shared the intimate, technical details of Pied Piper’s middle-out technology before realizing what was happening. Branscomb/Endframe then used the information Pied Piper revealed to create their competing product. But was there anything Pied Piper could have done to protect itself?
Last post I mused that had Richard taken certain steps in the first season of Silicon Valley, he might now have ammunition to use against Hooli’s lawsuit. What am I talking about? To very crudely recap what happened last season, Richard invented Pied Piper, a music copyright search service that hid within it amazing lossless compression technology. Richard shared his software with two “brogrammers” at Hooli, who (being slightly smarter than they appeared) realize the importance of Richard’s compression technology and informed Gavin Belson (Hooli’s CEO). After Richard refused to sell Pied Piper to Hooli, Hooli reverse-engineered Pied Piper and used Pied Piper’s technology as the basis of Hooli’s competing product called Nucleus. Continue Reading
HBO’s “Silicon Valley” has quickly become a must watch for all budding entrepreneurs, but the second season has opened up with a multitude of risks and roadblocks that could be faced by real world entrepreneurs. Here, we take a light look at the legal issues arising from the latest episodes. Continue Reading
On May 6, 2015, the European Competition Commission released a new Digital Single Market Plan, and simultaneously launched a broad antitrust investigation into e-commerce. The DSM plan, consisting of sixteen proposals, seeks to create a single digital European market where access to digital goods and services is unfettered across all 28 member states. The European Competition Commission will investigate whether firms’ restrictions on cross-border online trade violate the EU competition laws, and attempt to remedy them through enforcement mechanisms. High on the list is the geo-blocking of online content, including video games. The impending probe will likely target some large U.S. technology companies. Continue Reading
July 21, 2015 Update: On July 20, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Microsoft’s petition for rehearing en banc and amended its March 18, 2015, opinion to add a footnote supporting the conclusion that it had jurisdiction because a stipulated dismissal is an appealable judgment. The amended opinion can be accessed here.
We recently reported on a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals opinion reversing a district court’s decision to strike class action allegations in a putative class action against Microsoft.[i] In Baker v. Microsoft Corporation, the Ninth Circuit held that proof that individual class members were damaged by an alleged defect (here, a defect in Xbox 360 video game consoles that allegedly resulted in scratched game discs) was not necessary for a class action to be certified.[ii] Continue Reading
July 21, 2015 Update: On July 20, 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals amended its March 18, 2015, opinion to add a footnote supporting the conclusion that it had jurisdiction because a stipulated dismissal is an appealable judgment. The amended opinion can be accessed here.
A Quick Overview
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed a district court’s decision to strike the class action allegations of a putative class action against Microsoft. The Ninth Circuit’s decision means that the district court must reconsider whether to allow the case to proceed as a class action. Because the decision as to whether to certify a class generally determines whether a class action will proceed, the Ninth Circuit’s decision is an important one for game companies, which are often confronted with class action lawsuits. Continue Reading