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Cable Technology Feature Article

March 24, 2010

Hulu & NBC Suffer More Damage, Hulavision Sues over 'Stolen Idea'

By Kelly McGuire, TMCnet Editor

After recently receiving a cancellation notice from Comedy Central for its online video agreement, Hulu (News - Alert) must have thought it wasn’t going to get any worse. They thought wrong.

When it rains it pours. Now the video-sharing company and its founding investor, NBC Universal (News - Alert), were allegedly sued on March 23 for supposedly stealing a Canadian company called Hulavision’s trademark and secrets.

According to reports, Hulavision and principal Errol Hula claim that the company developed technology to deliver television programs directly to viewers online. Hula then met with NBC Universal business development executive Raymond Vergel de Dios at a Las Vegas trade show and was invited to have further discussions about working together.

In the spring of 2006, Hula and NBCU allegedly signed a nondisclosure agreement, after which Hula revealed his company’s business model, marketing strategy, product road map and a “shared revenue model chart” that included valuable trade secrets.

The complaint made by Hulavision states that, at no time did Mr. Vergel de Dios inform Hula of any potential plans NBC had of its own for the development of any project similar to Hula's or that it had any interest other than possibly to form a business relationship with Hula if the Confidential Information to be disclosed was of interest to NBC.

Hulavision is reportedly claiming that the Hulu version, released in March 2007, is a “nearly identical” adaptation of Hulavision.

And, in one respect, it would seem they had a point – even the names are similar. However, when I tried to find Hulavision’s Web site, nothing was found…hmmm…could this be a possible case of just professional jealousy? Or is there a major lawsuit on their hands?

Kelly McGuire is a TMCnet Web editor, covering CRM and workforce technologies, and anchor of its daily TMC Newsroom video broadcast. Kelly also writes about eco-friendly "green" technologies and smart grids, compiling TMCnet's weekly e-Newsletters on those topics, as well as the cable industry. To read more of Kelly's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire