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Fusion Garage fires back at TechCrunch's Arrington, alleging broken promises

Fusion Garage Rathakrishnan Chandrasekar

Fusion Garage this morning fired back at Michael Arrington, a blogger who last week accused the startup of treachery and theft of intellectual property.

Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan, the chief executive of Fusion Garage, said he approached Arrington in 2008 with his idea to make a thin, touch-screen tablet that can be used to surf the Internet. Arrington was "more than a little interested" and offered to help the fledgling company. Here's an excerpt of Rathakrishnan's comments:

Michael made many promises suggesting he will deliver on hardware, software and funding, none of which came true. We had to move on. [Fusion Garage] did the hardware. We had made the software. And we had secured the funding. Michael did not deliver on his promises, and we decided to move on our own.

In a Web conference in which he also demonstrated the tablet -- dubbed Joo Joo -- Rathakrishnan accused Arrington of falsely claiming credit for developing the device, saying the blogger had a "flair for the dramatic."

Perhaps because of the dramatic mudslinging, the kerfuffle has Silicon Valley elites riveted. In one corner is Arrington, a blogger who used his online platform, TechCrunch, to become an industry heavyweight with  formidable sway with an audience that looks to the blog for gossip and news on technology startups.

Arrington, in his post, said he took Rathakrishnan, a promising entrepreneur, under his wing and helped incubate Fusion Garage in the early days. Arrington claimed TechCrunch jointly owned the intellectual property underlying the Joo Joo tablet and accused Fusion Garage of pushing him out of the deal. Alleging Fusion Garage of theft of intellectual property, he promised to file a lawsuit.

Rathakrishnan today didn't dispute the friendship that developed between the two and acknowledged that they had discussions about TechCrunch possibly acquiring Fusion Garage. But Rathakrishnan said, "Ultimately, nothing came out of these discussions. There was never any agreement."

Arrington has not yet posted a response on his blog. Last week, he filed a post saying his company owned intellectual property based on the "Crunchpad," the original name for the tablet device. He hinted that "litigation" was "imminent." It is notable that Arrington uses the word "Crunchpad" and not "Joo Joo," suggesting that his legal claim may be based on the name rather than the technology.

Today, Rathakrishnan countered: "Despite what is written, there has been no legal case that has been filed today. We own the intellectual property, and we will defend it."

-- Alex Pham

Image: Screen shot of Fusion Garage CEO Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan during today's Web conference.

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

 
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