StreamCast Networks Inc., creator of the controversial peer-to-peer file-sharing program Morpheus, filed a lawsuit against eBay Inc. and 21 other defendants, asking for a worldwide injunction on the sale and marketing of eBay's Skype Internet voice products.


StreamCast first filed a lawsuit against Skype in April, but did not name eBay in the original suit. The amended suit includes the San Jose-based auction giant, which acquired Skype last year for more than $4 billion. The suit centers on file-sharing technology called FastTrack P2P. Skype and 21 other companies use it; StreamCast claims it owns it. The lawsuit is filed under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, among others.


Skype's Internet-based free phone service uses peer-to-peer software, and StreamCast alleges that technology was taken through a conspiracy.


StreamCast developed the technology with Kazaa, the infamous European peer-to-peer file-sharing network, whose co-founders, Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis, founded Skype. They then sold Skype to eBay for more than $4 billion. StreamCast's suit claims the Skype founders misappropriated technology from their partnership and secretly and illegally transferred the rights in the sale to eBay.


"The rights to the Skype and FastTrack technologies were swept out from under our feet, and our 28 million Morpheus users were stolen from us," said Michael Weiss, chief executive of StreamCast Networks. The suit was filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles.


Peer-to-peer file sharing networks came under fire for illegal music swapping, and one by one companies have either folded (Grokster), or gone legit (Napster Inc.) by offering a pay-for-downloads version. Morpheus has remained in the peer-to-peer space, but has offered an e-wallet feature that gives users the opportunity to pay for downloads.


Keeping Score
The U.S. Army's popular video game/recruiting tool "America's Army" is getting an upgrade. Westlake Village-based Pragmatic Solutions launched a beta Web site that will track statistics for the multi-player online video game. Up until now, players relied on fan sites for stats and to keep track of players. Pragmatic took over the back-end of the "America's Army" video game a year ago, maintaining the server and creating a stable framework for the more than 7 million players worldwide who interact in the military game.


"We keep the game running on an ongoing basis," said Peter Jakal, owner of the 12-man Pragmatic Solutions.


The new features will keep track of every player's score in the game and what missions he's completed. The program will fly country flags for each player, showing the worldwide reach of the game, which is available as a free download from the Army's Web site.


Swipe No More
Oberthur Card Systems Inc., the Compton-based maker of credit cards, announced that JPMorgan Chase & Co., American Express Co., Citibank, KeyBank and Citizens Banking Corp. have launched contactless credit card programs using Oberthur cards.


The U.S. division of France-based Fran & #231;ois-Charles Oberthur Group, Oberthur Card Systems is the top supplier of Visa and MasterCard credit cards and has been developing new technology for payment transactions. The contactless card means the days of "swiping" your card and signing the receipt are almost over.


According to company research, contactless credit card transactions are 55 percent faster than regular card transactions, and increase the purchase amounts by 25 percent to 30 percent over the use of cash.


Staff Reporter Hilary Potkewitz can be reached by e-mail at hpotkewitz@labusinessjournal.com or at (323) 549-5225, ext. 226.

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