So a CEO bullied you. He threatened to have lawyers look at something, accused you of behaving poorly, and accused you of being difficult. He is being manipulative. He is trying to guilt / scare you into stopping. And it worked.
For all readers... do not be afraid of lawyers. Especially if nobody has even talked to them yet. Lawyers do not like to lose cases, so will not push a losing agenda. Yet they also must do what their client asks, so lawyers looking into a concern, or even sending nastygrams... those are meaningless actions. It only becomes meaningful if and when if their lawyers indicate they believe they really have a case, or if your own lawyer believes they have a case. Everything before that is posturing and bullying.
If I were in the same situation as OP, I'd state that my intent was positive, ask to be informed of the results of discussions with attorneys, and wish them to have a nice day. Admit no wrong, make no apologies, ignore irrelevant statements (in particular personal attacks), and just let it slide until they take a real action of some kind.
Once they do take an action, then it might be appropriate to do what they want. But seriously... stop letting people be bullies.
Fortunately for him, EFF decided to support him afterwards. But do not count on EFF paying for your legal defence.
If you sue me, I’ll just say “ok, see you in court, let me know if you need anything for discovery“. You’ll be spending lots of money and I’ll be spending nothing. It’s only expensive for me if I get an attorney, and I don’t need one. What happens if we go to court and lose? I have to take down my website? If there’s one lawyer in town, they drive a Chevrolet. If there’s two lawyers in town, they both drive Cadillacs.
It's easy to stand on the sidelines and criticize this person for not being a martyr to the cause of our terrible legal system - but, while such a lawsuit would never throw you out of your home, it could very quickly drain your personal savings which, if you have a family that's reliant on that savings for future education, could be devastating.
It is 100% reasonable and a good idea to reach out to the EFF if you're being cyber-bullied by a corp with an axe to grind, but standing on your own in this sort of a scenario is certainly going to inflict a fair bit of pain on the aggressor - but it's likely going to inflict a whole lot more pain on you. Lawsuits like this can be tied up in appeals essentially until we die of heat death given our legal system unless you get extremely likely.
Additionally I feel like you're making the assumption that the work a lawyer does is essentially busy work - discovery is an insanely expensive process to comply with and messing something up during discovery and accidentally deleting a key piece of evidence won't get you a "Well, you're just a rando - we'll let it slide" from the judge.
Lastly - if the trial actually did end up going to court, it's extremely likely you're going to lose without the assistance of a legal professional, US law is insanely complicated and I can almost guarantee that your current employer is breaking some law on a technicality currently, I have no idea what it is - but without legal council neither will you.
Another good aspect of Texas bankruptcy code for farmers and ranchers is the specific delineations of property that are allowed to be kept during bankruptcy: 2 horses, mules or donkeys and a saddle, blanket and bridle for each, 12 head of cattle, 60 head of other types of livestock, 12 fowl and pets. If you’re a farmer or rancher considering bankruptcy, Chapter 12 could be a better option—a bankruptcy allowed specifically for the debts of a family farmer or fisherman.
what is the maximum damages that a judge would award if replit won this case? $1k? Maybe?
I mean, it's not like Anthony Levandowski put millions of self-driving cars in the streets and took business away from Waymo's self-driving cars. Just by copying Google's intellectual property, not even publishing it for the whole world to see, he committed an offence that cost 18 months in prison and more than 100 million dollars in fines.
Of course, this lawsuit may not have gotten that far, as it seems quite baseless. But it would have taken years of mental turmoil and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for that to be established. And that is if the threat of the unfavourable outcome did not cause another tragedy like Aaron Swartz's.
Only issue? The Nintendo Switch can't play copies of a game unless you painstakingly modify it.
So every person who visited his site had already decided not to purchase games and exploited gaps in Nintendo's DRM on their personal devices, yet our justice saw fit to permanently ruin him with the incredibly nonsensical argument Nintendo presented.
Our justice system is broken in more ways than are apparent.
If there was trade secret - then there's no minimum, it's all however much a lawyer can convince the judge that the company is loosing.
If it goes to a legal proceeding, it is about convincing a stranger and lay-person (i.e. Judge, or perhaps even worse a group of jurors), that you didn't violate the law. You have to do this while the other side is doing their very best to convince the same stranger that you are a devious thief who did irreparable harm to their company and cost them millions in damages (or some other absurdly large number). They will paint everything you did and say as part of your plan to steal from and damage their company. They will have highly qualified experts submit very convincing reports, and testify, that what you did was trade secrete theft, and caused immense damage. Your only defense will be to push your own narrative that can counter all of this, sufficiently to get you off the hook. You'll need at least a lawyer, perhaps experts of your own, and all the cost that this entails. This will be a big deal to your life, but will be a business expense (i.e. before taxes) for the company suing you.
A while ago I needed to briefly retain a lawyer to navigate a complex contract with my employer, there may be terrible lawyers out there but the person I reached out to was exceedingly thorough in explaining things (and I, as a dev, had lots of rules-lawyery questions to throw at them), quite prompt in their response and charged a modest fee.
Speaking to a lawyer will absolutely cost you more than a coffee, but it's not that pricey in the scheme of things compared to getting in legal hot water.
Without a writ, you have little idea what the substance of their legal claim is; there's no purpose in hiring an attorney, because there's nothing for him to work on. So you are saying: "I don't fold to hollow threats and bullying. If you have a proper legal claim, make a proper legal claim."
If you then get a writ, show it to a lawyer.
If you have no substantial assets, it might be worth pointing that out (once the writ arrives). Nobody wants to sue a man of straw.
I do agree with those who say get a lawyer to send your response. However you should still do the research yourself - to the best of your ability. You can save yourself some expensive lawyer time by knowing the basics and having a potential draft (be careful: make it clear that you do not have any emotional ties to it so the lawyer is free to tear it up) of your response.
You are really underestimating how petty a lot of people are. I was sued for way less than this and the company suing me stood to gain nothing. Companies often have lawyers on retainer for this reason.
You also underestimate the massive stress a lawsuit entails.
The replit case is especially interesting since it could be a lot more personal (because the dev behind it previously worked for them and people hold grudges) and also because it might actually be a lot more valid then a lot of other frivolous C&Ds we see (since they were a former employee and it would be impossible to claim they were unaware of how replit worked at a very basic level). I think this lawsuit is a lot riskier than most and replit certainly does have a leg to stand on in open court.
the comment you replied to was saying that there is no nation-wide law protecting victims of unnecessary or unjust lawsuits, and there isn't. you simply cannot count on getting your costs paid for if you win in any case.
(I originally didn't want to mention the name of the company since you always get very aggressive comments when you post about this company on HN)
> always get very aggressive comments when you post about this company on HN
I wouldn't be surprised, I suppose some/many people here work there, or have such c*rs
No. What happens if you lose is you pay up to $150,000, plus costs and attorney fees, plus possible criminal penalties. (Here in the US, anyway.)
I guess the main point I’m trying to say that one doesn’t have to fold the second someone threatens you with legal action, even if you don’t have an attorney. A porcupine doesn’t automatically shed all its quills and throw themselves in a mountain lion’s mouth as soon as the mountain lion eyeballs it with a hungry look. You can f*!with people who f* with you. They may just go away when they realize you’re not going to make it easy for them.
The kid who posted this website could get a notarized affidavit saying he didn’t steal any IP, here’s how he got all the stuff, provide links to all the publicly available information, that he simply state that he built a hacky weekend project I good faith, and that no matter how much they pursued him or time they wasted on him, it wouldn’t change the facts of the case. The more time the attorneys spend going after him, the more they’re just gonna waste their own time and look super dumb. Say they are free to pursue whatever legal action they want, just like you’re free to stand up to a frivolous, insecure bully with too much money and free time. Take all the fun out of it for them, don’t roll over and take it because you’re afraid of being potentially bankrupted.
Sure. He could. It would mean absolutely nothing, but he could.
> Say they are free to pursue whatever legal action they want, just like you’re free to stand up to a frivolous, insecure bully with too much money and free time.
Great. Are you going to pay for it? (And pay for it when he loses since it isn't even slightly frivolous?)
The quantity and the length of emails sent by the author, in addition to the writeup, suggest they spent considerable time worrying about the situation.
And it’s only been a few days. Imagine if this becomes a multi-year case.
In that case, I wouldn't even bother to try to defend myself, if he doesn't have any proof that something is copied as it seems, no way he will win. Worse case scenario and you are guilty, fine, you will have to take down your project? You will have to pay a compensation? How much can this be quantified? 100$? 1000$? I don't think more than that. And if you refuse to pay? They have to do another trial just to have your money. In the end, they will end up spending a lot of money and maybe in 10 years they hope to get something back (most probably nothing).
Linkletter has a gofundme here: https://ca.gofundme.com/f/stand-against-proctorio
I've donated, and would recommend others do the same.
It doesn't matter what the value proposition was, this will be a stain on his name "the guy who open sources the stuff he likes in our design/projects"
this depends on where the case is brought really. and if they can get any money from you there. Which is often partially effected by where you live.
> Default judgment is a binding judgment in favor of either party based on some failure to take action by the other party. Most often, it is a judgment in favor of a plaintiff when the defendant has not responded to a summons or has failed to appear before a court of law. The failure to take action is the default. The default judgment is the relief requested in the party's original petition.
Why? If you are 100% legally in the right then why wouldn't an entity with sufficient resources whose agenda is in line with that of yours support you? They will get all the expenses compensated after you+they win, won't they?
Anecdotally, there were a lot of lawsuits claiming fraud & etc in the recent US president elections and I haven't heard of a single case where they had to pay for losing them.
Also, can only field X amount of cases per period, unless they want to be dealing with burnout etc
Lawyers may not like losing cases, but they like billable hours even more. So as long as their client is paying, they will follow their wishes as best they can.
Even "meaningless actions" such as "cease and desist" letters or "demand" letters probably need consultation with a lawyer for a proper response. This "admit no wrong" advice can actually be tricky. What may seem like an innocent or innocuous comment could make your situation worse.
By the time you have an actual civil action against you, you may have missed the opportunity to end the matter without getting to this point.
If you're unable to pay for it, you will not receive justice.
I am aware that this is not the 1950's superman definition of justice. It is the "welcome to America" version of justice, that you often can't even get if you can pay for it, depending on who you are.
So, you pick that fight. I've got a family and a life I need to protect; I'll stand on the sidelines and watch, thank you very much.
It’s not any definition of justice, its simply the rule of the powerful over the weak.
Be that as it may, it likewise does no one any good to pretend it has any connection to justice.
> Be that as it may, it likewise does no one any good to pretend it has any connection to justice.
...because someone on HN is going to be confused by the witty criticism of justice, and experience actual moral or intellectual confusion? Does this not strike you as linguistic pedantry?
But... other than those allowances... Yea, money is pretty important in the US justice system.
People that buy into that ideal fund those organisations so they can provide legal support to enact those principles.
The existence of those organisations (or pro bono work) is not a counterpoint to the premise that the US justice system is predicated upon money (and the implied corrolary that the level of justice you receive is proportional to the amount you pay for it).
(having said that, I don't necessarily agree with the flippant comment that you are replying to, but still).
Not really. The things this country has done since its inception are deplorable, and yet we have people in this country that want to prevent people from learning more accurate history to keep fake, nationalist "patriotism" at an all time high. They want the system to be cruel and hurtful. What is there in America to even be proud of nowadays?
There's no way you can know what this person's legal exposure might be without seeing their employment contract. They may well be completely in the right and this CEO is all bluster, but it's unequivocally bad advice to suggest that there's nothing to be concerned about based on the information you have.
Even beyond that, I've (unfortunately) known companies that were entirely willing to dump money into lawsuits they knew they had no hope of winning just to set the precedent that you should not cross them or they'll bury you in legal expenses.
In the end your advice may be exactly right, but it's definitely not reasonable to make these kinds of blanket assumptions.
In the end, this was a hobby project for the author, and I can understand he might not want to deal with the stress involved with possible legislation. The bully is the aggressor here and lets try not to blame the victim.
We hope, but this is what we got:
> As a matter of principle, when someone goes into your home and steals from you, even if it's not material, you have to respond.
They don't need to push it very far to cause a lot of harm to an individual and relatively bury them in costs.
Dude, move on already.
1. What if I'm considering working for Replit? This behaviour would give me second thoughts.
2. Imagine I'm a VC firm deciding whether or not to invest in them. I don't want me money being used to pursue a frivolous lawsuit against a website that isn't a commercial threat and probably isn't using their IP anyway.
It's true, the US legal system can be hopelessly expensive, but it is still possible to push back before it gets to that point if you're sure you're in the right.
Very immature behavior on Amjad's part. I'm considering pulling our corporations subscription and moving to Stackblitz now....
Until, curiously enough, today...
My guess is, his "top lawyers" and other advisors gave him instructions which amounted to - in layman's terms - "Dude, STFU."
Edit: disregard, he did show up and start commenting here.
Not that that's stopped Amjad from commenting anyway: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27428400.
And tweeted this:
Radon interned at repl.it and asked a lot of questions. To be clear, asking a lot of questions is a good thing for career development in that it results in learning a ton, and typically something you definitely want your full-time employees to do, but not necessarily what you're expecting from an internship/temp worker arrangement.
Amjad apparently had some awareness of Radon being a particularly curious intern. Again, nothing wrong with that!
Radon then published an open-source hobby project which seemed to build on many of the teachings from repl.it. Based on what we can see of the discussion, it's likely that Radon wouldn't have had the exposure to the problem domain in order to build the solution he did, as fast as he did, had he not spent time at repl.it and asked a lot of questions.
Radon then showed this to Amjad, and as all of the above dawned on Amjad, he reacted incredibly poorly. The analogy he's using in his tweets ("someone goes into your house and steals from you, even if it's not material") suggests he's likening it to inviting a friend over to a dinner party at your mansion, having the guest ask a bunch of questions about the design, excuse themselves to use the restroom, and poke around in all the closets along the way. Next week they invite you over to the 1-bedroom flat that they regularly livestream from, and you see they've applied lessons they learned while asking questions and wandering around your place, to their interior design.
You don't feel robbed, but you may certainly feel a bit slighted. If you're a private person you might be a bit miffed about how your years of hard work has been distilled into something more spartan and put on display for others to copy.
Even if I think Amjad's response was quite over the top, I do think it's fair to be a bit surprised to learn that your guest spent a significant portion of their visit poking around in your closets instead of focusing on the dinner company. In the context of an internship, it comes across as mildly jarring to point out that you were actually just after interior design lessons rather than enjoying dinner for the sake of dinner.
I'm not proposing this is in reality close to what happened; Radon seems highly motivated and prolific, and was probably an amazing intern. I also don't think he did anything legally in the wrong, even if unconventional and potentially offensive.
Amjad's reaction was totally inappropriate, but based on his tweets there is at least some reason to the rhyme.
What repl.it is doing that is unique is the amount of investment into all of the "extra" stuff around it.
The "number of languages" thing isn't secret sauce either...clearly once you have the base repl working, iterating more languages is pretty straightforward.
(And honestly - most HNers would just take the opportunity to bash him if he showed his face, so for his mental health as well I am happy he's keeping to the shadows)
I'm speaking from a UK perspective, so perhaps in the US it's different. While ignoring lawyers is stupid, waiting until they actually get in touch and looking at the merits of their case is not stupid, as the parent comment says. Then if they seem minded to pursue it anyway then fine, back down. But companies don't want to spend loads of money suing someone with no money either. The people who really lose are the people who entirely ignore the lawyers or are determined to take a case to court when they don't have the money for it out of some misplaced sense of righteousness.
If yes, please by all means reach out.
It can sometimes hard to tell frivolous vs. serious letters, and ignoring a serious one is not a good idea. Given any sort of emotional attachment to your business, and lack of legal experience, you might not be the best person to judge the situation.
Edit: nvm it's already happening: https://github.com/umesh-timalsina/riju
The OP doesn't have an operating business, he can decide to put it on hiatus, as a resulting of bullying or for any other reason.
They will if they get paid.
The judge will tell you all to go away and try to find an agreement. This agreement will either be Replit leaving you alone or Replit buying you out.
IANAL, but I was in a similar situation and I cannot see any circumstance where you get raked over the coals.
By this point, you have already lost (hundreds or thousands of dollars of lawyer fees and possibly countless sleepless nights).
"Stop letting people be bullies" is unfortunately hard unless you are sure that you can afford the cost.
You're only boned if it actually goes to court - and even in that case you're still free to settle until the judge announces a verdict.
Any settlement that doesn't consist of "the company withdraws their claims *and covers your lawyer costs" means you lost.
Not saying you're going to go bankrupt, just that you lost (financially) compared to just giving up a toy project and letting the bully win.
That is true, but most people don't have their "own lawyer" to ask.
Thankfully there are organizations that will take up your legal fight for free in the US.
Most lawyers don't care since they are getting paid anyway.
And something like a website that could be easily transferred into another jurisdiction or throw-away company? Good luck. This is not real estate where you are a sitting duck.
(Annoyingly the reason I wouldn't have won that much in damages was that I had mitigated my damages by finding another contract within days)
I mean I've also suggested at no cost that a site could be built on Squarespace instead of hiring a software engineer too...
I think this impression is just a result of how lawyers are portrayed in the media, most folks are quite happy to sit down with someone and talk something through - moreso if it can be done entirely over email or the phone.
My attorney: Never respond ever.
Well, the US News coverage and TV made being really afraid of lawyers the norm. Especially when you are poor. In the countries in the EU where I lived, I do not even have to open the threat email, but if I lived in the US, I would be very afraid. No idea if that is true or not but the system seems geared for bullying the little guy over there.
Obviously the right thing to do is to stand up to this bullshit. I have massive respect for anyone with the balls to do that. Everyone else is better off doing things as anonymously as possible. Can't sue you if nobody knows who you are.
But this situation is terrible. I've seen multiple YC CEOs bring out the fancy lawyers that they got connected to through the incubator. In some cases, these were multi-million dollar arguments that really arose because the YC CEO screwed up (in very very basic ways!) and then the they got butthurt when things didn't go their way. And YC is connected with they very kinds of lawyers who are happy to make money off of bullying their way through "deals."
Why does YC keep funding CEOs who get their egos bruised so easily? If you're a CEO and you're using your legal leverage irresponsibly, just imagine what the company books must look like.
Specially in the US, where justice is mostly a rich man's game.
Same in Pakistan.
P.S. I looked at using them but 'loved' totally transparent demo.
Sure you would.
Not sure how talented OP is. This can as well be a case study of who not to hire.
Trust is destroyed as soon as your first reaction to something is to summon lawyers.
I actually somewhat agreed until I read "I will be engaging our lawyers on Monday if it is still up by then."
I don’t get what you’re saying here. It’s not a breach of trust to speak publicly about someone threatening legal action against you.
Rather than downvoting your comment I opted to reply to it since it may provide a bit more information for you to base your judgement on about "things being muddier".
As for your last comment about their abilities - forgive me but that sounds incredibly unfair and unwarranted and verges on being a personal attack.
But then I believe this is legal (depending on your jurisdiction).
Amjad, replit's CEO, offered to hire OP, later accused them of copying their "internal designs", then threatened them with lawyers replit's millions can buy, eventually to stonewall and stop replying to their emails. What kind of trust is that?
> Not sure how talented OP is. This can as well be a case study of who not to hire.
That's a valid perspective, alright. One that's minority I sincerely hope.
Which means that the legal threats levelled against OP are presumably coming from a place of emotion and personal resentment, and I'm very much not prepared to extend the benefit of the doubt to replit under those circumstances.
Different Principals have different ways of evaluating threats, and reacting to them. At first glance, this seems like an awful mistake, on the part of the Replit people (Can you say "own goal"? I knew you could!).
Maybe there's more to the tale than appears here, but it does seem fairly straightforward; assuming that the emails shared tell the whole story.
I hope that everyone finds a way past this, and comes out OK.
One thing that I will say, is that the OP seems to be pretty sharp. He's young, and maybe he reacted more quickly and naively than a cynical old bastard like Yours Truly would, but he has done a pretty cool job on his project. It might not be "ship-ready," but it sounds like a great demonstration of his capabilities.
Also, as Elon Musk shows, CEOs can cause tremendous damage, if they go off-script. Being a CEO of a public/funded company is a fairly awesome Responsibility. It needs to be taken seriously.
I'd say that this very thread shows the damage that can be done to the company. Having this pinned at #1 on HN for all this time is devastating. It's actually kind of horrifying. Like watching a slow-motion train wreck. A lot of Replit employees and VCs are going to take it in the shorts from this. He's probably got some 'splainin' to do...
I can't remember the company, but there's a famous object lesson of a UK CEO that destroyed his life's work and corporation, by mentioning an upcoming product too early in a BBC interview.
The founders seemed to get upset, I still don't really know why, presumably because of the short tenure. They then proceeded to not pay me my last month's wages while attempting to feed me various excuses or just failing to reply to messages.
I eventually got the case in front of a judge (self represented) and discovered that despite them telling me about their lawyers they were also representing the case themselves without any idea about the legal situation. The judge basically laughed them out of court, starting off by pointing out that even if all of their statements were correct they still had no legal basis for not paying the wages. The judge then checked their accusations (that I had lied to them during the hiring process) and found they were not correct.
Despite them having no legal basis the whole process was pretty stressful since until the court case I had been assuming they had some reason to not just settle. (I was mostly worried the recruiter had done something genuinely dodgy during the hiring process.)
I'm still surprised that those people can run a company for more than 5 years.
We actually had one of those things, at the company I worked for. It was a monster, and had this tiny little screen, and a couple of 8" drives.
The problem with applying the "rational actor" test here, or anywhere really, is that to a first approximation people are not rational actors.
So when a CEO makes legal threats against some random dev's side project, seemingly out of a sense of entitlement to the very idea of a polyglot code sandbox, I'm going to be pretty harsh.
What exactly are you skeptical about? It's read to me like you were disbelieving the story because you didn't believe the CEO would act that way. To the contrary, it's entirely plausible (regardless of truth).
We can completely agree that people ought to be behaving more rationally, but empirically in enough cases, they don't.
Besides that, 100% agree on the personal investment/grandeur trap for founders.
Kudos on fixing what was probably a fairly terrifying problem.
- Churchill (probably)
He willingly traded some percentage chance at a competitor using an open source project to steal some percentage of his business for this PR nightmare. Personally I think this effort shows the bar for such a project is pretty low so I don't think shutting it down was a good trade off. I think it shows immaturity, bad will, bad faith and honestly its more of a case study in whom not to work for. Most people they would want to hire are liable to have multiple options. They can ill afford to be an undesirable choice.
Based on the commit log in the article, he added support for running code in 79 programming languages in 4 days. I'd say he's probably pretty talented.
From reading the emails, it looks like the Replit CEO "trusted" that the OP was cowed into submission.
Well this can be developed into a great replit competitor
Or at least it would save up a lot of boostrapping cost. Otherwise this whole thing indeed makes no sense.
I think the idea is that it's trivial to take what you've described and add "a small amount of work that an early-career engineer (even if talented) describes as easy".
Personally, I think the Replit CEO could have explained what the specific issues were before threatening to sue. Since there was no explanation on the CEO's part, I think it's perfectly warranted for the author to make this public.
Thanks guys for the comments. Definitely helps to view this matter from more angles, and it's clearer now. This is certainly a case study of who not to work for. (I didn't know so much about Replit and its CEO prior and totally missed the totalitarian vibe he is giving)
Curious to see how much the Replit community & ecosystem would be affected this event.
This is now on the first page of HN Search https://hn.algolia.com/
That said, all the possible IP in something like this is in security, reliability, scalability and good UX.
Severely doubt the OP spent much time on that.
The CEO is probably just having trouble dealing with stress and is acting out. It happens.
I agree it's not uncommon for first-time founders/CEOs to see phantom ghosts and lash out; however, we should be careful to not normalize that kind of behavior. Founders often hold mentorship or supervisory positions over their current and ex-employees, so it's harmful when they react with aggression and manipulation.
At small companies, that betrayal of trust cuts deeper than it does in more common manager-employee relationships, IMO.
That doesn't give them a free pass to lash out at people.
Now, the only reason to make the conversation public is to apply public pressure to make something happen.
It's also notable that Amjad used to work at CodeAcademy on up-and-going interactive coding experiences. Now he has his own company building up-and-going interactive coding experiences. What did Amjad learn while he was at CodeAcademy, being privy to internal business operations?
If that was the case almost everyone with a GitHub project could be sued to infinity, because almost everyone learns tons of things every day while working.
Specifically California Business and Professions Code Section 16600,
“every contract by which anyone is restrained from engaging in a lawful profession, trade, or business of any kind is to that extent void.”
In addition such issues must by law be decided in California courts and if they forced the issue into court and lost they would be liable for the cost of his defense.
Even outside of California there are limits to what you can enforce. Judges aren't liable to find that an infinite duration noncompete reasonable.
Another example in Washington State its now impossible to obtain noncompetes for anyone paid less than a rate of 100k per annum as an employee or 250k per annum as a contractor and they are limited to 18 months duration.
If you improperly assert a noncompete you are liable for 5000 or actual damages whichever is greater.
They are probably not asserting a noncompete because it is functionally impossible for them to do so. They would have to assert that he was making use of trade secrets or that in some nebulous way his design belonged to them. eg trade dress
The answer is you need a lawsuit to decide but probably not.
Still didn't stop everyone I've ever worked for from making me sign them, enforceable or not. I guess it's different elsewhere.
(That also says nothing about whether such a contract has or has not been signed by the relevant parties.)
I don't think Repl.it has a leg to stand on they just have a pile of money and the presumption of being willing and able to hire a shark in a suit to ruin someone's life with a baseless suit filed for the sake of harassment.
If you hire an intern to work on your code base you own merely own the work that person creates for the duration of their internship. Your piddling money doesn't buy you the general knowledge of how such a solution works any more than an auto shop acquires by dint of buying a few hours of labor owns the mechanics understanding of how a transmission works.
I would think that a few chunks of very similar code, and a well-paid expert testifying, plus the fact that he had knowledge of Replit's code from his employment, would go a long way towards a tough time in court for both parties. (Or, at the very least, that they both need to talk to lawyers before/when they start throwing around legal threats...)
Both seem to think they're Xerox PARC - or the most ambitious software companies on earth, both products seem pretty underwhelming.
Just seems wildly disproportionate to what they're doing. At least Steve Jobs was actually building stuff that was revolutionary. Elon Musk is building reusable rockets and pulling EVs from the future to modern day. Roam is making another centralized document editor?
In terms of software ambition neither of them come close to Urbit in what they're trying to accomplish, and Galen is not an ass about it.
Solving this would be helpful for teaching and I think it's not trivial to do well. I think there's an argument that being good at troubleshooting and debugging is 90% of programming so the shitty dev environment setup currently is a bit of a filter, but I generally think that's a bad status quo rationalization.
All this is to say - I think there's a market and the product is likely valuable, but I also don't think it's reusable rockets or rebuilding the internet or the 'most ambitious software company in history'. This kind of framing turns me off and when paired with stuff like this post leads me to avoid the company entirely.
Building a better UX isn't done 'simply' - and the result is often worth billions.
I would consider an approachable wrapper over a difficult tool to be innovative. Programming languages are essentially just UX wrappers over assembly. Is garbage collection an innovation, or a UX improvement? What about type systems? None of them make things possible that weren't possible before, they just make it easier.
Information for the sake of information is interesting, but where is it's value if it can't be applied to anything?
I'm sure there are a lot of incredibly clever startup founders out there but I get the impression that more than not you attract founders that are more interested in the status rather than the innovation aspect. I said status not money as a lot of the time these folks don't really care about money as long as they can add a "Founder of X, an YC funded company" on their profile and share their next viral tweet, with lots of adjectives, lots of buzzwords and no depth. Startup funding became a game of convincing others that you as a person deserve the funding, not the company itself.
I think his brother was also the QAnon shaman horn guy (at least he said as much on Twitter - maybe it was a joke?).
I get what you're saying here, but they made an entire TV series lampooning silicon valley culture.
Even in that show nobody was on meth iirc.
Yeah, not SpaceX or Neuralink or Pfizer. A company that runs docker images is the most innovative company.
I'd say the most innovative company in the world is probably Alphabet or Samsung.
Another really big thing is that Samsung funds a lot of basic research also at the university level, which AFAIK none of the big tech companies do.
My wish: Replit should sue intern, intern should get free attorney from EFF, case should be dismissed as "WTF" in court. Future CEOs will know that "an intern would need three days to technically replicate" is not a differentiator. Also, hope is not a strategy. VCs would learn that hearing BS from CEO is not "due diligence".
Intern would eventually be showered in money for speaking to further CEOs about that one mistake they should never do.
The world would move on and be a better place for everyone, except unprepared CEOs.
I think it's really easy for tech teams to do things in a sub-optimal way and then get all caught up in fixing problems of their own making and start to think they're doing really great technical work and that it is a competitive advantage for the company. More companies need to face the fact that their software can be easily replicated and that the value lies elsewhere, such as brand, reputation, reliability, good customer service, etc -- other things that an intern can't replicate in a weekend.
Facebook playbook for market rise is legendary. The limited rollout, the college based communities based on your edu email created this campus privacy and campus group. Starting off with the ivy league schools and slowly working into other schools created this demand as people talked. By the time facebook opened to the general public they had such a buzz. When they rolled out to this group they included one killer feature.. they allowed you to give your hotmail email/password and they would get a list of your contacts from your email and invite them to facebook. That brought in your aunt, brother, old friends to facebook. That created a network effect. Throw in the whatapps story and instagram story and an election/congressional hearings and you have facebook today.
The code part seems so minor. Retracing their steps is impossible. The path to facebook killer is a huge challenge to think that could only be done in a weekend is crazy.
Just look at this from the other side: you employ lots of people to work on some product, you teach them "secrets of the trade", send them to conferences, let them participate in making decisions, giving them extraordinary insight in the area of work you are active on... and as soon as they leave your company, they use all that knowledge to try to create something with that on their own (I can understand it, once you konw stuff and enjoy it, you want to keep working on it even in your own time), just for fun... basically spreading some of that knowledge you gave them and making it packaged and accessible not only to future contributors of their project, but to all competitors and genuine copycats out there.
This is incredibly unprofessional. If he had at least come up with something original based on that knowledge , I would be totally on his side, but his stuff, while it may not be an exact copy of repl.it, is clearly doing the exact same thing... how is that not at least "stealing the idea"?? Just don't do that.
Show some respect to your ex-boss and collegues who are working hard for several years to get an idea out to the world and make it work for others as good as they can... if you want to use your knowledge, just contribute back to the project if it's open-source (your contribution will be a lot more useful, very likely, to other people than your poor, basic little project)! If you actually want to compete, which the author claims was not at all his goal (yeah, right, until someone shows even a trace of interest in paying something for it), then by all means go ahead and act reckless, but you'll need to come up with some pretty major advantage to have any chance, and will be taking pretty huge risks with lawsuits, but that's business as usual in the corporate world.
Too bad, that's business and how a functioning free market works. If it's that important to Replit, then they should patent it. If they can't get a patent then, again, too bad.
I'm not defending how the CEO behaved here - it looks very unprofessional at best - but the patent system is not the only or the best mechanism to enforce intellectual property rights.
> If someone with an actual commercial enterprise were to offend Replit, I shudder to think what treatment they might receive.
Patents would cover both the employee and outside competitor situations.
Not sure what they'll do if another company decides to reinvent it.. but /shrug
(to be clear, not defending them at all)
Two things, first: You write like the company did the teaching, sending to conferences, allowing to participate ... out of the goodness of their heart. Obviously they did this because they saw a value in this, in fact they even pay their employees money to do these things.
Moreover, what do you think happens when people leave companies, they never use the knowledge they acquired? Do the companies continue to own that knowledge? Moreover, it even happens all the time employee leave and even found direct competitors to their previous employees. Just look at the founding history of Intel for a famous example. Also by the same measures we could accuse the repl.it CEO of stealing ideas from codeacademy and facebook where he worked previously, I mean he build an interactive website.
> it is clearly doing the exact same thing... how is that not at least "stealing the idea"?? Just don't do that.
Ideas aren't worth the paper they're written on, and a startup founder should know that better than anyone else. Hell, wasn't Fairchild "the same idea" as Shockley Semi?
I have a lot of respect for what repl.it is and their vision, and the intern did not come close to copying it. But I did lose a bit of respect for the current leadership if this is how they respond to toy reimplementations of certain features.
Replit makes a webapp you can use to run code online in different programming languages. This is nothing new (just Google “run python online” for proof), so Replit’s value proposition is extra features like sharing your work, installing third-party packages, and hosting webapps.
Now, none of the ideas I used in my open-source project were “internal design decisions”: they’ve all been published publicly on Replit’s blog (I knew this because I’d been asked to write some of those blog posts during my internship). And my project also wasn’t any more of a Replit clone than any of the other websites on the first few pages of Google results for “run python online”, most of which look exactly the same.
You may disagree with these claims, but the general / hypothetical stance of your post does not give me any reason to think OP is blowing smoke up our collective asses.
For that matter, the CEO of Replit could be more specific about what OP's 'crime' is, though I suspect the worst of it is that OP's actions revealed how threadbare the Emperor's clothes are.
There was respect shown.
Replit is not that innovative or the pioneer of this idea - many have done this so many times before
Wit this silly logic, nobody can ever work for a compeitor.
Was Zoom's CEO unprofessional for starting Zoom after working so long in WebEx? How about Jet.com founder after working at Amazon?
For Zoom, that was to market the product to random people for free or close to free because the cost to provide it had fallen enough to make it worth while.. WebEx was unwilling or unable to do so. I'm sure it was suggested many times. Probably even by the soon to be CEO of Zoom before he left to do it himself.
Sometimes the original company is worried about cannibalizing their sales, or shifting focus from their current customers, or it's just plain a case of them moving far too slowly to take advantage of the market. These are all cases where someone leaving and starting a new company to serve this demand is a good thing for consumers, regardless of whether it's good for the original company. Companies that can't respond to market needs are inefficient, and in a well functioning market suffer for that.
In a poorly functioning market, such as one with overly onerous regulatory hurdles, or litigation preventing competition, or customer lock-in, customers are given fewer choices and competition is constrained. People taking their expertise and making new companies to serve different segments of that market is a feature, not a bug or problem. It's how the market works. If repl.it is worried about a hobby project that can't scale and doesn't seem to be attempting to compete in the market, how much value is it actually providing? Threatening litigation says a lot more about their product than the competitor, IMO, and what it says is not flattering.
Because Replit didn't originate the idea of "web site you can execute code on". There's no idea to be stolen here, or if there was stealing, it's not from Replit.
Radon outlined why this isn't true. 
> basically spreading some of that knowledge you gave them and making it packaged and accessible not only to future contributors of their project, but to all competitors and genuine copycats out there.
It appears as if you're advocating that Radon should've treated the open-source code as if it was closed? 
> This is incredibly unprofessional
In what world is it unprofessional to work on a personal side project that has ZERO commercial interests and is using 100% public open-source code? This is actually one of the most professional online disagreements I've ever seen..
> Show some respect to your ex-boss and collegues who are working hard for several years
With this reasoning anyone at Amazon cannot join another ecommerce, or anyone at Microsoft OS cannot join Apple, or anyone in iPhone team cannot join Android.
If you are worried that your product is at the mercy of people not talking about it, or experimenting with the knowledge in future, then thats the least of your worries. The product, the team and the company is in a deep mess.
Repl.it itself is completely unoriginal... there's been websites doing this stuff for decades now. Of course, the CEO has to live in denial of this, and is easily threatened/offended when confronted by this reality.
Would this hold up in case of a lawsuit? I mean, can Replit's CEO accuse the guy of copying some of their work if there's evidence of prior art that predates both projects?
e.g. if they had a patent on something and were accusing infringement you'd countersue to say the patent's invalid (which I think in a nicely engineering appealing way is conceptually separate from the question of whether or not an awarded patent has been infringed upon).
Trademarks, being a de facto recognisably you mark, are not if they are in widespread use - which is why you get a lot of big guys suing tiny little guys and tabloids pick it up outraged they'd pick a fight so below their weight - but at some point enough little guys diluting your brand is going to mean it's no longer your brand, your trademark, and then it's too late to fight it.
(IANAL.) I assume this isn't about a non-compete clause otherwise he would've just said that instead of this vaguer message. (And it was two years ago OP worked there anyway.) So unless there's a patent supposedly infringed on, or closed source code copied out, I don't know what the complaint could even be in the first place? Just reads like an empty threat to me. That 'repl.it superiority' commit message is unfortunate though.
Vague general ideas like "a car" or "140 character limit" are not property, and so cannot be stolen.
Acting this way is superbly entitled.
You can't end the employment agreement and still expect others to act like they work for you. Every ex-employee is a business person on the same level as you. If they see an opportunity and beat you, you were a fool for letting them go.
Then these lucky, spoiled-rotten assholes think they're entitled to sue anyone who tries to compete with them. Everyone knows this is not a free market. Just a bunch of artificially selected spoiled brats with rich daddies/friends enriching themselves by destroying society.
As OP says any value add is about accounts and sharing and whatever, the code-running in a browser functionality is two a penny.
I know of other cases where well funded CEOs have tried bullying away someone who recently worked for them from starting a company in a related space. Glad that they weren't able to shut it down, and the new founder has raised a nice round. I'd love to see Radon succeed with his project.
IANAL but I don't think you can patent "path depencence". It is sunk cost
I even go so far to say that the CEO doesn't want his secret to out that he is not that great programmer after all. He just took someone else's idea and build a company around it.
Just don’t do that, it’s in poor taste.
"You don't need to remind you the essence of competition is
always been quite simple, any kid working in a garage
anywhere in the world with a good idea can put us out
Milo: It would be open source, we offer it free to
everybody, just charge for tech support.
Gary: Wow, free.
It's a cut-throat business we're in Milo.
It's just a matter of time before someone borrows your
technology, improves it and makes a billion dollars on it.
What would you do with a billion dollars Milo?
The question really is,
How many of the people you share discoveries with
will be altruistic? and how many will make fortunes
of your generosity?
VC funded companies are investments that they want a return on. It shouldn't be surprising when people try very hard to protect that investment to help them get a better return.
Yeah, but if the investment is threatened by a weekend project built in a few days, it means that a serious competitor could destroy it in a couple weeks.
The thought that came to mind about this was a baker stepping on ants outside his store because nobody was coming into the store. If nobody wants to come into the store because of ants crawling in front, your store has larger issues.
If someone is invested and stands to loose money, it does not gice them a free pass to act immorally.