Last month, Malaysian comedian Harith Iskander has publicly announced that he is suing the organiser of “Funniest Person in the World”, Laugh Factory for failing to pay him $100,000 cash prize and the U.S. comedy tour that he was promised.
Now in a sudden turn of event, the American comedy club has counter sued the 52-year-old stand-up comedian for stealing its trade secrets, adding that Harith even claimed that former prime minister Najib Razak was his silent partner in business ventures.
The comedian shared the news reported by The Hollywood Reporter on his Facebook yesterday, claiming that he didn’t know quite how to react.
“After bringing a case against Laugh Factory to pay me USD70,000 still owed to me for winning their competition … and now according to this article Laugh Factory say that I claimed Najib Razak was a ‘silent partner’ in my business – a statement that is absolutely false and I will leave it to my legal team/the professionals to handle this,” Harith wrote.
In contrast with Harith’s complaint, Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada claimed that the comedian was the one inquiring about the competition and even approached Masada, offering to open Laugh Factory club in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, and Jakarta, Indonesia. He also said that Harith cheated to win the competition.
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“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,” attorney David Martin wrote in the filing.
With regard to the contest prize, Masada also claimed that he told Harith 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 instalments during his appearances.
Laugh Factory is suing Harith for trademark infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract, unfair competition and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.
The company is asking the court for at least $10 million in compensatory damages, plus a disgorgement of Harith’s profits and punitive damages.
“I’m just a stand up comedian from Malaysia who’s only intention was to make my country proud by winning an international competition and I am merely asking for what was promised to me as the winner – nothing more, nothing less.”
“I will just stick to the facts and I can’t control others rumours mongering and spreading false accusations. We will take action against those who do. I trust the justice will prevail,” Harith said.