Suit alleges Snapchat creators betrayed Midlands man - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Suit alleges Snapchat creators betrayed Midlands man

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(L to R) Frank Reginald Brown, IV, Evan Thomas Spiegel, and Robert Cornelius Murphy celebrating the "birth" of the app in Los Angeles. (L to R) Frank Reginald Brown, IV, Evan Thomas Spiegel, and Robert Cornelius Murphy celebrating the "birth" of the app in Los Angeles.
Snapchat allows users to send photos to others that will automatically delete within seconds of being viewed. Snapchat allows users to send photos to others that will automatically delete within seconds of being viewed.
COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

A lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County, California alleges two of the three founders of the popular photo-sharing application now known as Snapchat betrayed a Midlands man who says he is a co-creator of the program one publication hailed as "a threat to Facebook."

And if this story reminds you of the award-winning 2010 film that portrays the founding of Facebook, you're not alone. The Social Network, which has received some criticism for its account of the Harvard trio who created Facebook, details how Mark Zuckerburg came up with the idea for the social giant. Two men, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, eventually sue Zuckerberg claiming he stole the idea from them.

Attorneys for Frank Reginald Brown, IV, of Columbia say two of his Stanford classmates ran away with Brown's original idea for the mobile device application just months after the three agreed to develop and market the program together. That oral agreement included an equal one-third split of the company, according to the Feb. 21 suit.

In the Spring of 2011 while in his junior year at Stanford, Brown conceived the idea for a mobile sharing application that would transmit a picture to another user and automatically delete itself after a short time, the suit alleges.

Brown shared his idea with Evan Thomas Spiegel and the two decided to form a joint partnership and develop the application, according to the suit. Later, they added Robert Cornelius Murphy, a friend of Spiegel's, to the venture, the suit states.

Brown's attorneys say he was a driving force behind the early development of the app, coming up with the initial name, "Picaboo," designing the logo, and creating social media pages to market the program.

When the 2010-2011 school year ended, the three partners, according to the suit, decided to spend the summer together in Spiegel's father's home in Los Angeles County to further develop and launch the app.

Brown moved his personal belongings to the home and continued to perform his obligations to the partnership agreement. His attorneys say Brown authored the app's Terms of Service, Privacy Police, website frequently asked questions and marketing materials. He also managed the LLC's tax returns, the suit states.

In July 2011, under the name "Picaboo," the three men publicly launched the application by making it available for download via the iTunes store.

During the development and launch of the application, Brown was not compensated for his work in accordance with his role as a joint partner in the enterprise which had not yet generated any profits, according to the suit.

As evidenced in the lawsuit, the three celebrated the "birth" of the app at a restaurant in Los Angeles. The three are pictured around a cake that has the ghost logo of the app on top of it.

When the end of summer drew near, the three partners decided to take a short break from their work at the Los Angeles home and visit family, the suit alleges. Brown returned home to Columbia and Murphy returned to Northern California. They continued to work on the app remotely during that time, according to the suit.

In mid-August, according to the suit, the relationship between Brown, Spiegel, and Murphy soured.

While making plans to return to Los Angeles, Brown and his two partners had what the suit classifies as a "contentious telephone conversation" regarding their startup. Spiegel at one point in the argument hung up the phone, according to the suit.

In the next few days, Spiegel and Murphy shut Brown out of the partnership by changing passwords for its computer servers and accounts, the suit alleges. The men also cut off all communication with Brown, according to the lawsuit.

After Brown was shut out of the partnership, Spiegel and Murphy changed the name of the app to Snapchat, the suit states.

In 2012, after Brown had attempted to resolve the matter without litigation, Spiegel and Murphy responded by hiring an international law firm to send a threatening letter to him, according to the suit.

According to his attorneys, Brown had no choice to file a lawsuit.

The suit seeks compensatory damages.

According to Business Insider, Shapchat is "2013's most likely billion dollar startup."

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