The co-founders of Manchester based ‘out of home’ digital advertising firm, Bidooh, have admitted to cloning the business after six months of legal action brought against them by the company.
Co-founders Abdul Alim and Shahzad Mughal were due in the High Court of Justice in London on the 15th April 2020, facing claims of copyright infringement, misuse of confidential information, breach of their fiduciary duties as directors and of their shareholders’ agreements.
Rather than return to court, Alim and Mughal admitted to all claims made against them and consented to judgement being entered for these claims. As such, the court case on 15th April was stopped, and on 7th April 2020, the High Court issued judgement on admissions and sealed the court order. Alim and Mughal are now required to pay Bidooh interim costs of £80,000 on account pending a full assessment of the overall costs to which Bidooh will be entitled to recover from them. Both have now accepted that they will sell their shares back to the company for a nominal fee.
Bidooh has been a rising star in Greater Manchester’s tech scene and uses facial analytics software to display tailored advertising on digital billboards.
In 2016, Bidooh co-founders Alim and Mughal secured initial investment for the business from a group of seasoned investors including non-executive director of Manchester United Michael Edelson and Apadmi Ventures – the investment arm of Apadmi Group.
Suspicious activities were discovered in August 2019 by Bidooh’s software engineers. The team tracked and traced the activities of a cloned site, Flydooh, which was using the IP stolen from Bidooh.
When it was revealed that Alim and Mughal had cloned the facial analytics software with a view to selling it on to third parties, Bidooh sought and obtained an interim order from Mr Justice Arnold, in the High Court of Justice in London on 11th September 2019. This interim order granted Bidooh’s representatives entry to Alim and Mughal’s premises in order to seize and secure evidence of their wrongdoing. The court order also granted Bidooh an interim injunction to halt the activities of Alim and Mughal pending full trial of the matter.
From examination of the evidence, it was discovered Alim and Mughal’s deception went back many months and included engaging with existing Bidooh partners and clients to sell their cloned product. A series of offensive messages relating to Bidooh employees and stakeholders were also found on their devices.
Commenting on the result of the court order, Michael Edelson said: “The final court order signifies the end of a frustrating and unfathomable chain of events.
“Naturally, as an investor and shareholder, I have been outraged that the people we invested a lot of belief and trust in, chose to work against us for personal gain.
“Since the initiation of the first court order on 11th September 2019, a number of false counter claims have been made by Alim and Mughal against Bidooh and individuals linked to the business, which has been very distressing for all involved. These have now been dropped and we are confident the final court order sets the record straight.”
Bruce Jones, head of intellectual property at Kuits Solicitors, who acted for Bidooh, said: “Abdul Alim and Shazhad Mughal appear to have mistakenly believed that they could behave as they wished. In over 30 years of legal practice I have never before encountered such flagrant infringements and abuses.
“That they were undertaken by two individuals in whom so much faith and trust had been placed by investors who were willing to back them, makes their conduct all the more egregious. I’m delighted for Michael and all of the team at Bidooh that we have been able to bring this case to a satisfactory conclusion.”
Mughal and Alim have until 29th April to pay the interim costs to Bidooh