Avid Technology accuses California startup that hired four from Avid of intellectual property violations

Avid Technology of Burlington sued a rival and former partner called Media Gobbler in federal court Tuesday, accusing the California company of “unfair competition in violation of federal law” and “tortious interference with the contractual obligations of four former Avid employees who are not employed by Media Gobbler.”

Avid alleges in its complaint that Media Gobbler had licensed technology from Avid properly but continued to use it inappropriately after Avid cancelled the arrangement. Avid cancelled the deal after Media Gobbler hired away four Avid employees with which Avid had entered into various nondisclosure and noncompete agreements, the suit states.

A Media Gobbler spokesman could not be reached after business hours. The four former employees are listed in Avid’s complaint but are not named as defendants in the litigation.

At the center of the dispute is an Avid product called Pro Tools that is widely used in the recording industry.

Avid has produced the suite of products since the early 1990s and it has been used in a number of prominent recordings by music industry stars, Avid states in its complaint.

In February 2011, Avid alleges, Media Gobbler launched a file-sharing service for musicians. In August of 2012, Avid says, Media Gobbler began licensing the rights to Avid’s software development kit, or SDK, to allow the integration of Avid products with Media Gobbler’s file-sharing service.

Avid acknowledges that recently, Avid announced it was going to offer its own online file sharing service — a development the complaint states “would render the Gobbler platform largely irrelevant.” Shortly after the announcement, on May 15, Gobbler “recruited and hired four Avid employees,” the suit states.

Not long thereafter, Avid states in its suit, an Avid executive told a Media Gobbler executive that Avid was canceling the SDK license. Avid says Media Gobbler continues to imply in its promotional material that a relationship between the companies exists.

Without the legal right to continue its Avid integration, Avid states in the suit, Media Gobbler could be tempted to illegally use information available from the former Avid employees.

Avid states in its complaint that each of the four men had been with Avid for more than 10 years prior to leaving for Media Gobble. The complaint continues on to state: “the trade secrets and confidential information to which the former Avid employees had access would provide an unfair advantage if improperly used for, or disclosed to, Gobbler, or if used by a Gobbler employee in furtherance of Gobbler’s competitive interests.”

Avid wants the court to force Media Gobbler to stop suggesting or implying on its website that its service works with Avid products. Avid also wants compensation for alleged violations.