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Tech lawsuit pits Orange County entrepreneur against Dubai bank

A complex technology lawsuit involving a Pakistani American entrepreneur living in San Juan Capistrano and one of the largest banks in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is set for trial in July in federal court in Santa Ana. The lawsuit stems from a contract dispute about a plan to sell money transfer services in third world countries using cell phones and a form of pre-paid credit cards.

According to news reports, the plaintiff made millions of dollars selling computer components in the 1980s and 1990s. He then began working on a system that would allow guest workers in Middle East countries to send money to their families at home at a fraction of the cost charged by banks and halawas (a cultural payment system in Muslim countries). In order to make the system work, he joined forces with Emirates NBD, a very large bank based in Dubai. The system, called InfoSpan, depended upon loading a customer’s financial information onto a debit card and using the customer’s cell phone to transfer the money to a cell phone in another country.

In May 2009, the bank accused to the American businessman of breaching the contract by failing to deliver an operating version of InfoSpan. In 2011, he responded by filing the current lawsuit in federal court alleging that the bank had stolen his trade secrets, and had begun using the InfoSpan source code to design its own money transfer system. The businessman told reporters he had lost the greater portion of the fortune that he made in the computer component business, but his top goal is to restore his reputation.

This case shows dramatically how a promising idea can lead to bitter disagreement and lengthy litigation. Anyone involved in such a case will want to consult and retain a competent lawyer with experience in breach of contract litigation. A knowledgeable attorney can evaluate the case and devise strategies that will maximize the chance of achieving a favorable outcome.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Lawsuit accuses Middle East bank of stealing an Orange County entrepreneur’s technology,” Phil Hirschkorn, May 8, 2016