South Carolina man sues Snapchat, says he came up with the idea

A photo of Frank Reginald Brown IV, left, with Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel of Snapchat. A lawsuit filed by Brown's attorney claims the photo was taken during the summer of 2011 and shows the logo used by Snapchat on the cake.
(Lee Tran and Liang)

A South Carolina man has filed a lawsuit in the Superior Court of California against the founders of Snapchat, claiming he originally came up with the idea of the popular mobile app.

Snapchat lets users send each other photos and videos that disappear within seconds after the recipient opens the content. The app has been gaining traction and was recently copied by Facebook, which released an app called Poke that functions similarly.


Frank Reginald Brown IV, 23, filed his lawsuit against the Los Angeles-based company as well as co-founders Bobby Murphy and Evan Spiegel, alleging Murphy and Spiegel betrayed him and shut him out of the company after they began working on it while students at Stanford.

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Filed by the law firm of Lee Tran & Liang, the lawsuit says Brown originally came up with the idea for the app and approached Spiegel, who called it a “million-dollar idea,” according to the lawsuit.

At that point, the two agreed to pursue the idea and look for a third person, who could code the app. They settled on Bobby Murphy, also of Stanford, and began working on the app.


The three moved to Spiegel’s father’s house in Los Angeles County, where they worked on the app during the summer of 2011. At that point, the lawsuit says Brown came up with the app’s original name, “Picaboo,” and the ghost logo that is still being used by Snapchat today.

The app launched as Picaboo in July 2011, and the three took a break from working at the end of the summer: Murphy went to Northern California to visit his family while Brown returned to South Carolina, according to the lawsuit.


The three continued working on Picaboo remotely until they had a falling out in mid-August 2011. At that point, Brown’s lawsuit alleges that Murphy and Spiegel changed the passwords to their accounts and servers to shut Brown out. They also discontinued communicating with him. The next month, Snapchat was released.

Brown’s lawyer, Luan Tran, said his client is seeking to have his rights restored and any damages he may be owed.


“He wants his share of what he is entitled to,” Tran told The Times.

Snapchat could not be reached for comment.



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