Snapchat maker Snap has been sued for copying video overlay and augmented reality features from a competing app that it allegedly teased acquiring in 2016. In a lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in California federal court, Playvuu founder Shane Pollack accused Snap of stealing patented technology that he showed company executives related to the use of filters and special effects.
Pollack founded Playvuu, an app featuring one-click editing that gives users the ability to add foregrounds, backgrounds and animations to videos, in 2009. He’s described in the lawsuit as a writer, director and pop rapper who created the TV series Central High and the movie The Greatness of Fame, both of which aired on HBO Family.
In 2016, Pollack was introduced to Steve Hwang, Snap’s director of operations and strategy, according to the complaint. He was subsequently invited to present the app at Snap’s headquarters in Venice Beach, believing that the meeting was to discuss the possibility of an acquisition. He demonstrated Playvuu’s features and discussed the potential of the technology.
The lawsuit claimed Snap executives present at the meeting extensively questioned Pollack regarding the reach of Playvuu’s patents. Pollack was allegedly asked to email the presentation he had shown along with additional information requested by Snap about the overlay and augmented reality technology developed by Playvuu.
“However, within hours of emailing the presentation and other written materials, Mr. Pollack surprisingly received a curt reply thanking him for sending the presentation but also stating that Snap ‘didn’t see a fit’ for Playvuu’s technology,” states the complaint.
Playvuu accused Snap of copying several of its features over the years. It pointed to a 2017 update allowing users to add overlays, filters, and special effects similar to those on Playvuu.
Snap didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. It’s represented by Michael Horikawa and Christopher Kao of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
On Monday, Snap reached a $35 million settlement to resolve a class action accusing certain app features of violating Illinois biometric privacy laws.