192.com Says It Owns Russia’s Top Social Net, Contests In Court

192.com directory owner i-CD is suing a former director, claiming ownership of Russia’s most popular social network Odnoklassniki.ru. The network was started by Albert Popkov in 2006 but London-based i-CD claims Popkov founded Odnoklassniki.ru while working for it – a claim he strongly denies. The company brought a claim to the High Court in February, claiming copyright abuse and breach of contract, and received a first hearing in September, Russian paper Vedomosti reveals and paidContent:UK confirmed with the court.

Popkov was 192.com’s software director between 2000 and 2006, his LinkedIn profile says. i-CD claimed it planned to develop Odnoklassniki.ru itself and that Popkov was tasked with registering the domain name in his native Russia on the company’s behalf. But after leaving the company in 2006, he instead used the name to set up the service for himself, i-CD claimed. Popkov, in Vedomosti, said he was not under contract during his final year with i-CD, adding he will defend the claims vigorously.

i-CD wants to get rights of ownership and revenues from Odnoklassniki.ru, which made $3.3 million in Q1; it also wants its domain name and trademark, Vedomosti says. The High Court told paidContent:UK initial directions had been sent but the parties had not yet sent the case for trial. Despite being a leading people and business search site in the dot.com days, 192.com’s popularity waned after directory enquiries was deregualted, putting the emphasis instead on “118”. Via Quintura.

Update: Alistair Crawford, CEO of 192.com’s parent i-CD Publishing, got in touch to say the site’s popularity hasn’t waned despite the deregulation of the old 192 directory enquiries monopoly. Traffic has doubled since deregulation and beats many competitors. The company did £10 million revenue last year and has been named best online directory at the 118 Tracker Awards in Las Vegas for consecutive years, Crawford point out.