After working together for more than eight long years, the founders of Kitven backed Sloka Telecom have parted ways, and it wasn’t pretty. While Sujai Karampuri, the co-founder & CEO of Sloka Telecom continues to run the company, K Venkata Subbaiah, the other co-founder has left to start a new venture. Four days ago, police raided the new company–Ansula Technologies– for allegedly “stealing software,” based on a complaint by Karampuri.
According to Karampuri, Subbaiah has “stolen” Sloka’s software on broadband wireless radio equipment software covering multiple technologies, to launch similar products into the market. “The monetary value of software is in the order of few crores,” Karampuri told NextBigWhat.
Last Friday, the police seized some equipment including storage devices, computers and mobile phones from Ansula Technologies. “It was prima facie established that they had taken our software,” said Sujai. “It took our team to design the product almost 2 years and no one can replicate that in 2 months,” he said pointing out that the products that Ansula is about to announce is “exactly,” similar to their existing product.
According to the registrar of companies, Ansula Technologies was incorporated in December 2012. The company’s website seems to be down at the moment but a cached version of their site lists LTE, WiFi and LED based products. Sujai alleged that WiFi based product is the same as what Sloka is currently selling and a new company could not have done so in such a short span of time.
S K Hussain, one of the directors of Ansula Technologies however, refuted the allegations. He said that Subbaiah never took any salary from Sloka for all these years and surrendered his 21.5 % of the company before exiting. “He also surrendered everything at the time he left,” said Hussain. “Its a plan hatched to settle a grudge. They barged into the office and seized equipment without even showing us a warrant. At the police station, they were alone with the computers which they opened after threatening us and they could have planted the software in it,” he added.
“Subbaiah has also not signed any non compete agreements with Sloka,” said Hussain.
Sloka was founded in 2005 by Sujai and Subbaiah to develop compact, cheaper and power efficient base station and could not raise external funding for a long time. In April 2011, Sloka raised $.6 mn from Karnataka Information Technology Venture Capital Fund (KITVEN), a fund backed by the State government.
It looks like a long and tough litigious journey ahead for the two companies. Its probably going to take many years, reckons Hussain. “The legal process is very tough. Nothing protects stolen software in the country. Not even the IT act. But we will fight it out no matter what,” said Karampuri.
The case, between the two companies will be an important one from a software ownership perspective. Patenting software in India is a tricky thing. It is not covered under the Information Technology act either and there is limited case history to fall back on in such cases.
Updated: We have removed comments in this post as the case is subjudice.