TechCrunch counterpunch: Blogger sues Fusion Garage

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In an increasingly bizarre Internet catfight, TechCrunch blogger Michael Arrington today unloaded on Fusion Garage and its investors, and even had a few choice words for the media.

Arrington filed a lawsuit Thursday against Fusion Garage, his former partner in creating the so-called CrunchPad, alleging, among other things, false advertising, fraud and deceit. His complaint, lodged in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, provides a timeline for the ill-fated project to create a touch-screen Web browsing tablet.


The partnership, which began in 2008, imploded when Arrington accused Fusion Garage CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan of hijacking Arrington’s ideas and shoving him out of the joint venture. Arrington declared the device dead in a Nov. 30 blog post.

Alas, it was resurrected Monday as the Joo Joo tablet, which Rathakrishnan promised to ship eight to 10 weeks from today. Or maybe not. Arrington’s lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction preventing Fusion Garage from shipping the tablet.

To accompany the suit, Arrington wrote a scathing, hellfire-and-brimstone post that cast Fusion Garage’s investors in a tawdry light, calling them ‘borderline loansharks’ and singling out (gasp!) ‘a chiropractor named Bruce Lee.’ He accused Rathakrishnan of plagiarism and said, ‘He isn’t a good guy.’ Arrington also lashed out at fellow media writers, accusing them of being ‘irresponsible’ for linking to Joo Joo’s website.

Besides good theater, it remains unclear what will become of this war of Internet words as it migrates to the court. Fusion Garage, based in Singapore, argues that it has no signed agreements with TechCrunch nor Arrington. In his lawsuit, Arrington does not produce any written contracts between the two. Rather, he invokes a federal law protecting trademarks. Arrington has filed a request to trademark the term ‘CrunchPad,’ but the tablet no longer uses that name.

Meanwhile, the dispute has captured the attention of technology media in a way public relations companies can only dream of, giving credence to the idea that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.