1:56pm PT by Ashley Cullins
Laugh Factory Countersues "Funniest Person in the World" for Allegedly Stealing Trade Secrets
The Laugh Factory is countersuing a Malaysian comedian who says he was stiffed on his prize after being named the "funniest person in the world" as part of a global contest run by the famous chain of comedy clubs.
Harith Iskander in December sued the company, claiming he wasn't given the full $100,000 cash prize and U.S. comedy tour that he was promised.
Now, Laugh Factory is not only denying that it breached any obligation to Iskander, but is also suing him for stealing its trade secrets.
While Iskander says he was approached about competing in the contest, Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada says it was the comedian who initiated contact. According to the cross-complaint, Iskander contacted a Laugh Factory representative asking about bringing the brand to Asia and also inquiring about the competition.
Later, Iskander approached Masada, offering to open Laugh Factory clubs in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta, and claimed Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, was his silent partner, according to a Feb. 27 filing. They ultimately agreed to a joint venture to expand the brand in Asia, but it was never executed or formalized, and now Masada says it was all a scam.
"Iskander never intended to honor this agreement; rather, it was a deceit designed to gain access to and then misappropriate Defendants’ protected, proprietary intellectual property, including trade secrets, trademarks, business operations, and other intellectual property," writes attorney David Martin in the filing, which is posted in full below.
With regard to the contest prize, Masada claims he told Iskander in writing that the winner of the competition "must make ten scheduled trips to the United States" to perform and that the $100,000 prize was to be paid in ten installments that were conditioned on those appearances.
Laugh Factory claims he failed to meet the performance obligation and that he cheated to win.
The company is suing for trademark infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair competition and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Laugh Factory is asking the court for at least $10 million in compensatory damages, plus a disgorgement of Iskander's profits and punitive damages.