Lawsuit alleges that stolen ideas underpin Pinterest

A New Jersey man says that ideas he formulated for a site called RendezVoo wrongly wound up as integral parts of the wildly successful interest-sharing site.

Pinterest and one of its early investors have been sued by a man who alleges that the investor nicked his ideas -- including the concept of boards -- and handed them to the now hugely popular Web site.

The suit alleges that the plaintiff, Theodore F. Schroeder, of Ocean City, N.J., developed a site called RendezVoo, which started as a place where users could share their locations but evolved into a site where people "meet to share opinions, views, items, and tastes on a variety of subjects -- product, services, events, politics, economics -- nearly anything of human interest" -- by, the suit continues, posting their interests to "boards."

According to the suit, Schroeder and his early partners eventually approached a venture capitalist named Brian S. Cohen, who never quite got the RendezVoo idea and instead steered the project in the direction of becoming a kind of crowd-sourced wire service called Skoopwire. But, the suit alleges, after "deadlocking" the Skoopwire effort by raising concerns over ownership interests, Cohen later met the eventual founders of Pinterest and made a "Faustian" deal with them, channeling the RendezVoo concept into the new service.

A Pinterest representative told AllThingsD's Liz Gannes, who first reported the story, that "the lawsuit against Pinterest is baseless and we will fight it aggressively." Gannes said Cohen did not reply to a request for comment.

The suit says Schroeder's friends had alerted him to Pinterest but that he learned of Cohen's involvement with the site only on reading a March 2012 story about the investor in Mashable.

The lawsuit also mentions infinite scrolling -- familiar to anyone who's used Tumblr -- as one of the things Cohen/Pinterest allegedly lifted from Schroeder.

The suit says Schroeder spent thousands of hours teaching himself programming and putting work into RendezVoo and its various incarnations, without financial compensation. (At one point, RendezVoo was live and had a user base of 5,000, the suit says.) Schroeder also put off his law career (he graduated from Columbia Law School in 2006) while working on the project, the suit says. He's seeking, among other things, "compensatory damages substantially in excess of $75,000."

You can read the whole story -- at least as it's represented by Schroeder and his attorney -- in the complete filing below, which was posted earlier by Gannes.

Pinterest lawsuit
About the author

Edward Moyer is an associate editor at CNET News and a many-year veteran of the writing and editing world. He enjoys taking sentences apart and putting them back together. He also likes making them from scratch.

 

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