3 years ago Hottrix was shocked to learn, that a large public corporation (Diamond Foods) had copied its iMunchies app without permission (or asking). Now a judge ruled in favor of the small app developer.
Huge legal victory for small Las Vegas app maker Hottrix. Judge Freeman of the Northern District Court denied the final motion to dismiss (PDF) by alleged app infringing snack empire Diamond Foods and Snyder's-Lance. Inc. (NASDAQ: LNCE) and set the case for a jury trial.
Junk food corporation tries to snack on Hottrix, bites on granite
Finally a jury can confirm that Hottrix invented the iMunchies app which was then copied without permission by a billion dollar snack corporation. Instead of licensing the rights to the app, Diamond Foods of Snyder's-Lance, Inc. has spent an estimated $1.2 million on external lawyers who unsuccessfully tried to convince judges that the apps are not similar.
When alleged thieves sue inventors
It's a karmic boomerang for Snyder's Lance because it was the multinational giant, not the mom-and-pop shop Hottrix, who started the lawsuit. You read that right: After Hottrix informed Diamond Foods that their "new" app was a ripoff from a 2007 Hottrix app, Diamond Foods sued Hottrix, never anticipating that the small developer would outlast 3 years of legal fees AND the judge's sharp eye for justice.
Estimated $3.5 million coverup
Diamond Foods appears to have hidden this kerfuffle and its extravagant legal expenditures from shareholders and corporate officers during a recent buyout by snack empire Snyder's-Lance, Inc., known for Snyder's of Hanover®, Lance®, Cape Cod®, Snack Factory® Pretzel Crisps®, Late July®, Kettle Brand®, KETTLE®, Pop Secret®, Emerald®, Diamond of California®.
It's anyone's guess how the upcoming jury trial and its publicity will affect Snyder's-Lance, Inc., its brands, customer perception, shareholders, and management*, especially if there's a multi-million dollar judgment, but one thing is certain: They'll likely spend at least another $2 million because the court date is set for June 17, 2019; That's another 2+ years of billable hours for outsourced star litigators from Fenwick & West taking depositions all around the world.
Wall Street Journal (1.3 billion acquisition during app infringement lawsuit)
Justia Law Report (Hottrix granted jury trial)
Trademark and Copyright Law News (also listing previous cases in which Hottrix defended its apps against corporations)
UPDATE: Corporate Officers called as witness from Diamond for theft
*Scheduled to appear in court for aiding in the theft of intellectual property (according to deposition filings) are the following corporate heads of Snyder's Lance and Diamond Foods:
1. Brian Driscoll, CEO of Diamond Foods from May 2012 - present. (board
member of Snyder's Lance since Feb 2016)
2. Lloyd Johnson, Executive VP and Chief Sales Officer, Diamond Foods since September 2008
3. David Colo, Executive VP and COO, Diamond Foods since June 2013
4. Isobel Jones, Executive VP and General Counsel of Diamond Foods since
5. James Johnston, Chairman of the Board of Snyder's Lance
6. Carl E. Lee, Jr., President and CEO of Snyder's Lance
7. Gail Myers, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Snyder's Lance
8. Person most knowledgeable regarding marketing for Diamond Foods
9. Person most knowledgeable regarding technology/IT department in charge of their apps
10. Person most knowledgeable regarding decision making regarding development of the app in
|Setting a great example!
Tim — Feb 22, 2017
|Thanks, Hottrix for teaching kids that it's wrong to steal from others, even if it's "just digital". Extra points to kicking corporate junk food kingpins like Diamond and Lance for ripping off apps that peddle crap food.|