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TikiLive Sues Investors & Law Firm Linked to Omniverse

TikiLive, an erstwhile streaming partner of the now-defunct Omniverse One World Television, has taken aim at a pair of purported Omniverse investors as well as a Florida-based law firm that once represented both Omniverse and TikiLive.

In a suit filed last month with a circuit court in Monroe County, Fla., TikiLive alleges that two financial backers of Omniverse -- David Cash and his brother, Michael Cash -- misrepresented several material facts to TikiLive about Omniverse's business and purported licensing agreements with various programmers. The same lawsuit alleges professional negligence against Byrd Campbell, claiming in part that the Winter Park, Fla.-based law firm failed to avoid conflicts of interest between TikiLive and Omniverse that ultimately damaged TikiLive's business.

David Cash and Byrd Campbell have not responded to requests for comment. Michael Cash could not be reached for comment.

TikiLive filed the lawsuit almost a month after a group of major US Hollywood studios obtained a stipulated consent judgement and permanent injunction against Omniverse and its founder, Jason DeMeo, that included $50 million in damages. Those studios, represented by a legal consortium called The Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), claimed that Omniverse's OTT-delivered pay-TV service violated copyright laws.

Prior to the settlement, Omniverse had claimed to be operating legally under a joint venture with a private cable operator called HovSat that was purported to have a long-term contract with DirecTV that allowed for national OTT distribution. Omniverse later laid the blame on HovSat, claiming that the company misled Omniverse and negligently misrepresented its business linkages with DirecTV.

Before Omniverse shut down operations last May, TikiLive was one of several third-party partners of Omniverse's that provided white-labeled pay-TV offerings under their own brands.

Although Omniverse is no more, TikiLive is now going after Omniverse's supposed money guys by targeting the Cash brothers.

In the complaint, TikiLive characterizes David Cash as a "significant investor and mastermind" of Omniverse. Per his Linked In profile, David Cash currently serves as director of capital of Household Capital based in Melbourne, Australia. David Cash is also listed as an advisor at Hudson Structured Capital Management, an asset manager focused on the "re-insurance" and transportation sectors with offices in Bermuda and Stamford, Conn. In additon, he is listed as an independent director of the Bermuda Business Development Agency.

Per the TikiLive suit, David Cash's brother, Michael Cash, is another former significant investor of Omniverse who currently resides in Bermuda.

TikiLive's suit doesn't detail the precise financial position that the Cash brothers allegedly had in Omniverse. But court documents filed by Omniverse last year did identify David Cash as an investor who advanced "millions of dollars" to Omniverse for equipment and infrastructure for its TV streaming service.

The Cash connection
The lawsuit claims that the Cash brothers visited TikiLive's office in Marathon, Fla., in August 2016 to pitch the company on the Omniverse opportunity, and represented then that Omniverse possessed the required licenses and authority for premium pay-TV services to be streamed and distributed through TikiLive.

The complaint also states that David Cash claimed to be personally involved with Omniverse's relationship with Shant Hovnanian, HovSat's owner and a key exec associated with an Omniverse-HovSat joint venture called OmniSat. Hovnanian was the subject of a default judgement filed last July in a civil tax enforcement proceeding involving $16 million in alleged penalties. Hovnanian is presently a US fugitive believed to be in Armenia.

TikiLive said it signed a deal to license/sublicence Omniverse's content in September 2018. From that point on, David Cash "remained personally involved" in the relationship between TikiLive and Omniverse, the suit claimed, noting that Cash communicated from his personal email account or his Household Capital email account, but never from an Omniverse account.

TikiLive likewise claims that David Cash disavowed being an officer or employee of Omniverse. Despite that, David Cash personally sought TikiLive's subscription reports, invoices created from those subscription reports and the payments that TikiLive made to Omniverse, the complaint said.

In early December 2017, TikiLive said it alerted David Cash of a cease and desist letter received from A+E Networks holding that TikiLive's partner, Omniverse, did not possess a license to distribute the programmer's TV networks. In response, David Cash "personally reassured TikiLive there was no problem with Omniverses licensing of the A&E content," TikiLive told the court.

The complaint also alleges that both Cash brothers reassured TikiLive that the ACE-led lawsuit filed against Omniverse on Feb. 14, 2019, was baseless, holding that Omniverse indeed had legal authority to stream its premium content.

TikiLive's $40 million deal dies
While TikiLive was still delivering OTT-TV services through its Omniverse partnership, TikiLive received a non-binding letter of intent to be acquired by Real Star Communications for $40 million. According to court documents, Real Star issued the letter, signed by company president and CEO Atonn F. Muhammad and copied to DeMeo, on May 14, 2019. The letter noted that the Real Star offer would remain in effect until June 30, 2019.

TikiLive claims that David Cash became aware of the Real Star offer later that month and "personally negotiated a purchase of TikiLive's subscribers." Soon after, however, Omniverse "abruptly and without warning, shut down operations," cutting off TikiLive from the content it was repackaging and selling. TikiLive also argues that, despite that interruption, it held off securing another source for premium content "based on David Cash's misrepresentations" and instead waited for Omniverse to secure another source to stream content.

"Omniverse shut down without warning, and without providing any ability for cover, forcing TikiLive out of business, because TikiLive was prevented from finding a way to avoid a break in service," TikiLive claimed.

Claims of lawyerly negligence
The portion of TikiLive's complaint focused on Byrd Campbell stems from allegations that the law firm "committed professional negligence" in part because it failed to disclose a conflict of interest when Byrd Campbell was representing both TikiLive and Omniverse concurrently. Byrd Campbell, TikiLive contends, failed to provide or disclose useful or important information it had regarding TikiLive's relationship with Omniverse.

According to TikiLive, a lawyer named Steven Milbrath was TikiLive's primary legal counsel since 2013. Milbrath joined Byrd Campbell in January 2017 to head up the firm's intellectual property litigation group and, subsequently, he brought TikiLive in as a client at Byrd Campbell. However, Bryd Campbell also represented Omniverse in the ACE-led lawsuit and "withheld information about Omniverse from TikiLive, or otherwise mislead TikiLive regarding Omniverse," the complaint alleges.

TikiLive also claims that had Byrd Campbell disclosed any issues pertaining to Omniverse's content licenses, it would have gone forward with the $40 million offer from Real Star, found an alternative provider of premium content, salvaged its business and subscriber base, and would not have entertained the offer from David Cash.

Get up to speed on the Omniverse saga:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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