Keep in mind that on Wednesday, the Skype founders filed a lawsuit -- against eBay, Silver Lake Partners, Index Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board -- for copyright infringement. They believe that their company, Joltid, owns key intellectual property for the Skype platform and that eBay is in violation of the terms.
Finally, Joltid is embroiled in another suit, where it is claiming license violations of Skype and eBay (the dispute is being handled in the UK courts).
For the most part, Skype's founders are using a shock-and-awe legal blitz. Why? Well, it could be to buy the company. Or, it is to get more dollars. Of course, the founders sold Skype to eBay back in 2005 for a cool $2.6 billion.
It's a horrible mess. But, it is really the fault of eBay, which did not buy the core "peer-to-peer" technology system (known as "global index"). Instead, it is wholly owned by Joldid.
Yet, in any tech deal, it's critical to get the intellectual property (or at least a perpetual license to it). True, the Skype founders may have considered this to be a deal-breaker. Then again, wouldn't this ring alarm bells for eBay? Might this be an indication that the founders wanted maximum leverage?
At the same time, the Skype founders are taking a big gamble. Suing top companies, executives and VCs can certainly send shockwaves. In other words, if the Skype founders want to do deals in the future, the reception could be chilly.
Tom Taulli is the author of various books, including The Complete M&A Handbook.