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TechCrunch files suit over CrunchPad

The Web-browsing tablet, now known as the JooJoo, is the centerpiece of a lawsuit that charges Fusion Garage with fraud, misappropriation of business ideas, and more.

The Joo Joo
The JooJoo next to the iPhone. Rafe Needleman/CNET

TechCrunch filed a lawsuit Thursday against Fusion Garage, the blog's onetime partner on the CrunchPad tablet device, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington announced Friday.

Arrington wrote that the suit charges Fusion Garage with "Fraud and Deceit, Misappropriation of Business Ideas, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Unfair Competition, and Violations of the Lanham Act."

The filing of the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California escalates the war of words between TechCrunch and Fusion Garage, in a falling-out that recently became public. Arrington had earlier indicated that he would move toward litigation.

In the hands of Fusion Garage, the tablet is now known as the JooJoo and on Monday made its media debut in San Francisco. The touch screen device, priced at $499, is designed for browsing the Web.

The court documents, which Arrington posted online, include a full timeline of events and allege that Fusion Garage engaged in activities that have "deprived TechCrunch of money and property." The suit also says that Fusion Garage has "gained money and property that rightly belongs to TechCrunch."

As penalties, if the court rules in its favor, TechCrunch is asking for damages, all of Fusion Garage's profits related to the CrunchPad/JooJoo, restitution for "unjust enrichment," attorney's fees, and much, much more.

Fusion Garage did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.

But earlier this week, in unveiling the JooJoo, Fusion Garage rebutted Arrington's charges of wrongdoing.

It's "ludicrous," said Fusion Garage CEO Chandra Rathakrishnan, to think that TechCrunch owns any intellectual property in the JooJoo. He said the parties never signed legal agreements providing that to TechCrunch.

"We took all the risk and did all the work. Michael Arrington sat back," Rathakrishnan said.

Arrington likewise did not mince words in his Friday blog post. "Chandra and Fusion Garage have shown a long term pattern of deceit in their business dealings," he wrote. "There is no reason to think that anything will change now."

(Disclosure: I wrote for TechCrunch for a period in 2008.)