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Did Pinterest's 'first investor' steal ideas for the site?

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Pinterest and one of its investors have been sued by an individual who is claiming some of the basic ideas behind the site were stolen. As reported by AllThingsD, the suit was filed yesterday on behalf of Theodore F. Schroeder, alleging "misappropriation, unjust enrichment, and breach of fiduciary duty" against both Pinterest itself and one of the startup's investors, Brian S. Cohen. According to the court filing, Schroeder had been working on a web application called Rendezvoo that would let users share information via boards in 2005, an approach that was a marked contrast to what MySpace and Friendster offered at the time. Cohen then reportedly came on and partnered with Schroeder and his colleagues, but is alleged to have later "caused the project to deadlock so he could steal the core ideas for himself."

The plaintiff put the pieces together after reading an interview with Cohen

Schroeder says he later found Pinterest to be remarkably similar to the service he helped create, but only put the pieces together when learning of Cohen's involvement with Pinterest this year thanks to a March 11th article on Mashable. In that piece, Cohen refers to himself as the company's "first investor," and describes how some of the inspiration for Pinterest came from another project he'd been working on called Tote. However, in the same article Cohen says he didn't know where the concept for pinning came from. Schroeder contends that it came from his work, and that Cohen shared the concept — along with several broad design elements — with the founders of Pinterest.

The suit asks for a variety of different financial rewards, including damages in excess of $75,000, earnings derived from Pinterest, interest for any monies owed, and compensation for legal fees. Unsurprisingly, Pinterest is striking back in no uncertain terms, telling AllThingsD in a statement that "The lawsuit against Pinterest is baseless and we will fight it aggressively."

The Verge
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