U.S. Judge Throws Out ‘Meritless’ Lawsuit Against Ethereum Game CryptoKitties

Cryptokitties lawsuit
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A U.S. judge has thrown out a lawsuit that alleged that CryptoKitties creator Axiom Zen had stolen trade secrets and violated a confidentiality agreement in connection with a recent promotion that featured celebrity-based CryptoKitties.

According to an order dated July 9 and reviewed by CCN, U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino denied cryptocurrency start Starcoin’s request for a preliminary injunction against Axiom Zen, with the court finding that the plaintiff had failed to demonstrate that its case against CryptoKitties was likely to succeed on the merits.

Starcoin, which operates under the name Tradestar, had filed the suit against Axiom Zen in May, arguing that the latter had stolen its idea to produce digital collectibles modeled after celebrity likenesses.

CryptoKitties, the most popular game on the Ethereum network, allows users to buy, sell, and breed unique digital cats. The decentralized application (dApp), as CCN reported, briefly conducted a promotion in which it sold digital felines modeled after the likeness and personality of NBA superstar Stephen Curry, though it suspended the campaign after learning that Curry was not as involved in the initiative as the company had originally been led to believe.

stephen curry
Source: CryptoKitties

In its suit, the plaintiff attempted to argue that the idea for the “CurryKitties” promotion had been stolen from Tradestar, even though Axiom Zen had formed a partnership agreement with Curry’s app development company a full month before Tradestar had any contact with Axiom Zen.

Transcripts from the court proceedings show that Judge Sammartino was quite skeptical of the suit, which attempted to argue that Axiom Zen should be barred from conducting any celebrity-based promotions.

Responding to such an assertion from Tradestar’s counsel, she said:

“Well, counsel, that’s quite a stretch, sir. I mean, I don’t know that licensing with celebrities on anything can be a trade secret because everybody does it. Mr. Curry is out there everywhere. How can you say that? It just –– okay, that’s fine. That’s your view of things, and let me hear from them. I’m just concerned.”

Commenting on the court’s ruling, Sam Gharegozlou, president of Axiom Zen, expressed vindication that the “meritless” suit had been dismissed.

“We knew this case was without merit, and tried not to let it distract us—it’s clear the judge had the same attitude,” said Gharegozlou. “Like copycat products and sensationalized press, a lawsuit is a sign we’re doing well.”

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Josiah is a full-time journalist at CCN. A former ancient and medieval literature teacher, he has been reporting on cryptocurrency since 2014. He lives in rural North Carolina with his wife and children. Follow him on Twitter @Y3llowb1ackbird or email him directly at josiah.wilmoth(at)ccn.com.