MIT Solver Protects Nascent Business with Jury Win in Eastern District of Texas

An entrepreneur and MIT Solver has won a jury trial against a business partner who filed a copyright suit in an effort to steal a nascent business that went on to flourish after he had walked away from his responsibilities.

On January 23, a jury in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas found in favor of Ram Katamaraja and his company Colaberry, Inc., an emerging company that uses data science solutions to help train veterans, minorities and people from economically disadvantaged communities and provides staffing and custom analytics solutions in the artificial intelligence industry. Anand Dasari, a business partner of Mr. Katamaraja at Colaberry and a related business, Novedea Systems, filed suit against Mr. Katamaraja in early 2020 as the Covid-19 lockdowns had begun, alleging copyright infringement, Lanham Act violations and breach of contract, among other claims.

Katamaraja and Dasari initially worked together at Novedea, a Texas-based company launched to place workers from the U.S. and India in American IT companies, which they went on to co-own in 2012. Around that time, Katamaraja realized there would be growth opportunities if the business pivoted to become a direct-to-customer service provider that offers business technology consulting and employee training services directly to its customers rather than through the customers’ vendors. The idea gave way to Colaberry, which Katamaraja ran out of Boston, with Dasari focusing on Novedea in Texas. While they owned shares in the two companies, Katamaraja was the CEO of each company.

As Colaberry’s business grew under Katamaraja’s management, it provided millions of dollars of business to Novedea as a preferred supplier, but ultimately Dasari’s management of Novedea put the company at financial risk, with employees reporting to Katamaraja they were not being paid. Dasari then went on a sabbatical from 2016 to late 2018, while Katamaraja worked to salvage Novedea and started streamlining the entire business. At the same time, Katamaraja also went on to lead Colaberry to extreme success, including its innovations getting recognized by MIT Solve 2018 in the form of awards such as the most promising “work of the future” solution, the General Motors Prize for Advanced Technologies, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation Artificial Intelligence for Betterment of Humanity Prize and Community Award for Most Favorable Solution.

After witnessing Colaberry’s success, Dasari moved to interfere with the business’s operations, attempted a hostile takeover and ultimately filed suit in the Eastern District of Texas. In a significant win, this week the jury found in favor of Katamaraja and that Colaberry was the rightful owner of a copyright at the heart of its business and Katamaraja was the majority shareholder of Colaberry as Dasari subsequently authorized additional shares to Katamaraja.

Katamaraja and Colaberry are represented by Rajkumar Vinnakota, Gary Sorden, Sean Hsu, Michael Trentin and Ian Phillips of Cole Schotz. Christopher Evans of Chris Evans Law Firm LLC and Stamatios Stamoulis of Stamoulis & Weinblatt are also providing trial counsel to Katamaraja and Colaberry.

Cole Schotz is also representing Katamaraja and Colaberry in related proceedings in the Delaware Court of Chancery.

As the law continues to evolve on these matters, please note that this article is current as of date and time of publication and may not reflect subsequent developments. The content and interpretation of the issues addressed herein is subject to change. Cole Schotz P.C. disclaims any and all liability with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the contents of this publication to the fullest extent permitted by law. This is for general informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Do not act or refrain from acting upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining legal, financial and tax advice. For further information, please do not hesitate to reach out to your firm contact or to any of the attorneys listed in this publication.

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