Kim Kardashian has not entirely dodged claims that she stole her wildly-popular Kimoji app from another company, but the mega-star has managed to get the $300 million fight out of court and into private arbitration. In a filing late last week, David Liebensohn – the app developer who filed suit against Kardashian in an Oklahoma federal court in February – filed to voluntarily dismiss his fraud and breach of contract action on the condition that the parties take up the matter in arbitration.
The recently-dismissed case centers on the creation of Kardashian’s “Kimoji” app, which Liebensohn claims he and his company, App Social, developed in early 2014, complete with an array of “provocative animated emojis.” After updating the emojis to include “Kardashian’s likeness” and naming the app “Kimoji,” Liebensohn says the he and his partners ultimately presented it to Kardashian in a meeting in Calabasas, and finalized a deal with her mother/manager Kris Jenner in which Liebensohn and co. would maintain a 60 percent ownership stake in the venture, while Kardashian would get 40 percent, only to have the star co-opt the app and cut out her brand new partners.
Liebensohn alleged his in suit that less than a month later after Social App had “shared their prototype for the Kimoji concept [with] Kardashian,” the partnership fell apart. Kardashian accused Liebensohn’s partners of sharing her personal information with others, a blatant and unmerited “excuse,” the lawsuit claims, “to cancel the partnership.” In case that was not enough, Liebensohn claimed that counsel for Kardashian threatened him and Social App with a $5 million lawsuit if they did not walk away from the newly-formed deal and forego their 60 percent stake.
The parties seemed to go their separate ways until Liebensohn says he discovered a year later that Kardashian had moved forward with the Kimoji venture after partnering with a Los Angeles-based company called Whalerock to develop the emoji-centric “Kimoji” app, and was actively promoting it, “while it was Liebensohn [and his partners], who came up with this name” and the idea for the app.
Liebensohn set forth claims of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, unjust enrichment, and fraud, and is seeking damages to be determined at trial but “no less than $100,000,000,” which was later estimated to be closer to $300 million.
According to his August 14 filing, Liebensohn “voluntarily dismisses all pending claims in the action … with the intention of continuing such claims in arbitration,” a form of alternative dispute resolution that in certain cases comes with a confidentiality requirement as prerequisite to the settlement of the claims. Significantly, Liebensohn’s counsel asserts in the filing that they are voluntarily moving to abandon the case “without prejudice,” thereby, reserving the right to file suit against Kardashian on the same basis at a later date, such as if the arbitration does not go as planned.
* The case is David Liebensohn v. Kimsaprincess, Inc.; and Kim Kardashian West, 5:19-cv-00137 (W.D. Okla.).