I’m an architect by training that one day had a light bulb moment. This moment led me to leave my safe and secure $120,000 per year job and career to build an online dating business I called Cheekd. When I launched in May of 2010, I “did it right” by putting the trademarks, technology, and patents in place to ensure I was protected. I also had partners and strategists, not to mention my own grit and passion as a foundation.
One of the greatest opportunities of my life came when I had the chance to pitch my startup Cheekd on an episode of Shark Tank. But that day has also put me in the cross hairs of someone who watched a re-airing of that episode in July 2015. Two years later, that same individual named me in a $1 million lawsuit that claimed he “invented” the idea behind my company, while also accusing his former therapist in the same lawsuit of sharing his alleged invention with me. The catch is that the therapist and I have never met and had never spoken and did not know of each other until this lawsuit. And despite this fact – and despite my having conceived of and commenced building the business before he even began treatment with the above referenced therapist – it took over 10 months and $50,000 to get the case in front of a judge who dismissed the lawsuit in a pre-trial conference on April 5, 2018.
Back? Well here’s where it gets crazier. Because without reproach, the same individual whose case had already been thrown out less than one year ago, has now tendered a second lawsuit against me containing the same allegations! Such is the Kafka-esque world that I’ve found myself thrust into.
So like a terrible movie that keeps generating sequels no one ever asked for, “he’s baaaaaaaaack…” This time, the stakes skyrocketed into a brand new $5 million lawsuit against myself, my business and the counselor. The suit also requests inventor’s rights to my patent! Further, he is asked not only for a “cease and desist” order for Cheekd, but also for our startup business spinoff Networkd, a Bluetooth networking app. Fortunately, the judge dismissed the $5 million claims, but I still am forced to fight the inventor rights issue.
I find myself again fighting to protect all what I have created, potentially spending hundreds of thousands of dollars that I do not have in order to save what is mine.
From my conversations and investigations, it is clear that these types of frivolous lawsuits are epidemic and even the best PR support, strategic advisors and board of directors cannot help overcome. And while an employee of a company is protected, someone who boldly follows their own vision and chases their own dreams is virtually unprotected from the absurdity of lawsuits claiming that your idea is not actually yours.
Please help me keep my dream alive by donating what you can. 100% of what I raise will go directly into fighting this case until justice will ultimately prevail.
I appreciate you taking the time to read and hopefully share my story and for your consideration in donating to my cause.