California judge upholds a case against Pinterest over a marketer’s contribution to initial concepts

Last week, a California judge dismissed Pinterest’s motion to dismiss a case over a marketer’s claim that she wasn’t compensated for her ideas that helped form the company. However, Judge Richard Seabolt removed the company co-founder Paul Sciarra from the lawsuit because he left the firm 10 years ago.

According to a report from Bloomberg, the plaintiff, Christine Martinez, initially filed the lawsuit in September, alleging the company of not compensating her for her vital contributions that turned into core Pinterest features later. She claimed that she was friends with Pinterest co-founder Ben Silbermann, who had apparently asked her to “salvage a failed shopping app” that turned into Pinterest. In the lawsuit, Martinez accused Silbermann and Sciarra of never compensating her for her input.

The report noted that Martinez’s contributions to Pinterest were envisioning it as a visual bookmarking tool and conceptualizing the feature that let users make interest-based “Boards”. The lawsuit said that she also created a plan to reach out to bloggers, who in turn, onboard users on the site.

“Silbermann and Sciarra were so grateful to Plaintiff’s co-founding contributions that they embedded Plaintiff’s name into the source code for the resulting platform,” the court document reads.

Notably, Martinez never had any employment or contractual agreement with Pinterest. The court documents say that based on her discussions with co-founders, she thought she would be fairly compensated.

Pinterest moved to dismiss these charges in December saying that the accusations were too old and now barred by the statute of limitations. But Seabolt said Martinez “sufficiently alleges” that both parties agreed on compensation at a later stage.

In his ruling, Seabolt said that Pinterest’s 2019 public listing was a “transformative event,” and the company should have an obligation to pay Martinez. On the other hand, the judge dismissed her claims of conversion and unfair business practices.

“We are pleased the Court dismissed three of Plaintiff’s claims. The ruling is the first round in this case and in reviewing this type of motion, the judge must accept the complaint’s allegations as true. As the case moves forward, the Court will have the opportunity to evaluate and weigh the evidence in the case. As the facts come out, we are confident the evidence will confirm that Plaintiff’s claims are meritless and that the rest of this baseless lawsuit should be dismissed,” said LeMia Jenkins Thompson, Chief Communications Officer, Pinterest.

This comes days after Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner announced the resolution of a case against Pinterest alleging the company of racial and gender discrimination. To settle this case, the company announced a $50 million fund for diversity and inclusion initiations last November.

Update June 29, 2022, 10:30 AM IST: Updated with Pinterest’s comment.