by Joseph Young
CryptoKitties, an ambitious Ethereum-based collectibles project developed by blockchain studio Axiom Zen, has been sued by Starcoin CEO Jevon Feinblatt, who accused the CryptoKitties developers of stealing trade secrets and violating a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) signed between the two companies.
According to the official lawsuit, the Starcoin team, better known as Tradestar, claimed that Axiom Zen employee Sam Gharegozlou signed an non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Tradestar regarding a potential deal with NBA superstar Steph Curry.
Tradestar claimed that Axiom Zen agreed to collaborate with its development team to create digital Stephen Curry collectibles, in the form of a CryptoKitties-like trading card that is interchangeable on the Ethereum network.
However, Tradestar stated that Axiom Zen allegedly developed and released Steph Curry collectibles prematurely, without the involvement of Tradestar developers, violating the agreement between the two companies.
A major part of the lawsuit is the claim of Tradestar that CAA Ventures and Digital Currency Group, two leading venture capital firms in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector, have decided to invest in Axiom Zen rather than Starcoin due to the Stephen Curry collectibles launch.
“In fact, since Axiom received Starcoin’s confidential information, two investors who had previously expressed interest in Starcoin — such as CAA Ventures and Digital Currency Group — have now passed on investing opportunities offered by Starcoin, and instead they have both funded Axiom,” the document of the lawsuit read.
In response, the CryptoKitties team and Axiom Zen firmly stated that it had been dedicated to ethical and responsible work since the beginning of its venture and the lawsuit of Tradestar has no merit.
“We have been falsely accused of breaching an NDA and believe the lawsuit has no merit. Axiom Zen is a company that is committed to ethical and responsible work, including ownership and protection of data,” said Axiom. However, the company stated, “We have reason to believe Stephen wasn’t as involved in the CurryKitties as we thought. Until we’re sure he’s an active participant, we’re suspending the campaign.”
Did Steph Curry Collectible Play a Huge Role in A16Z and DCG Investment?
One of the central claims of the lawsuit filed by Tradestar is that investors and venture capital firms have passed on investment opportunities offered by Tradestar and reallocated their resources and capital to Axiom due to the launch of Steph Currency collectibles by CryptoKitties.
In March, as BTCManager reported, CryptoKitties raised more than $12 million in its Series A funding round led by Andreessen Horowitz (A16Z) and Union Square Ventures (USV) and participated by AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant, Zynga founder Mark Pinkus, and Coinbase co-founder Fred Ehrsam.
Fred Wilson, who has expressed his optimism in CryptoKitties and the project’s successful demonstration of seamless digital asset trading on the Ethereum blockchain, stated that USV was attracted to CryptoKitties due to its clever utilization of the blockchain.
“At Union Square Venture, we think digital collectibles is one of many amazing things that blockchains enable that literally could not be done before this technology emerged. We also think digital collectibles and all of the games they enable will be one of the first, if not the first, big consumer use cases for blockchain technologies,” said Wilson, with no mention of celebrity-endorsed collectibles in general.
The official announcement of CryptoKitties disclosing the participation of Digital Currency Group in its Series A funding in March included no mention of Stephen Curry or celebrity-endorsed collectibles.
It remains unlikely that the celebrity-endorsed collectibles launch of CryptoKitties was the focal point of the investment in Axiom by industry juggernauts such as DCG, A16Z, and USV.