Company That Named Harith Iskander The Funniest Person In The World Claims He Cheated Them
The Laugh Factory, one of the most recognised names in the comedy club business, has filed a USD10 million-plus lawsuit against comedian Harith Iskander for stealing its trade secrets
The Laugh Factory's lawsuit comes after Harith Iskander sued the company in December, claiming he wasn't given the full USD100,000 cash prize and a US comedy tour that he was promised after being named the "funniest person in the world", according to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported about the lawsuit.
Back in February, the comedian took to his Facebook account to reveal that he was suing The Laugh Factory for failure to award him his grand prize.
According to Harith, while the payoff for winning the 2016 international tournament was USD100,000 and a US comedy tour, he claims to have only received USD30,000, and that there has been no sign of the promised American tour.
He said that he had no choice but to take legal action against The Laugh Factory and its founder, Jamie Masada, suing them for promissory fraud, breach of contract, misleading advertising and unfair competition, among other claims.
In its countersuit, The Laugh Factory is denying that it breached any obligation to Harith, but it also claims that the comedian failed to meet the performance obligation and that he cheated to win
Harith had said that he was approached by an agent from The Laugh Factory to participate in the contest, but the company says it was Harith who initiated contact.
According to the cross-complaint, Harith contacted a Laugh Factory representative asking about bringing the brand to Asia and also inquiring about the competition.
The lawsuit alleges that Harith stole Laugh Factory's intellectual property while pretending to make preparations for opening Laugh Factory comedy clubs in Asia.
"In 35 years, I've never once sued a comedian," Jamie Masada, owner of The Laugh Factory, said, adding that this lawsuit will reveal the truth so they can get back to doing what they do best: "Providing laughs for those who need it most."
The Laugh Factory also claims that the Malaysian comedian approached them, offering to open Laugh Factory clubs in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Jakarta, with his silent partner Najib Razak
"In the processing of discussing a potential arrangement, Iskander represented that he had as a "silent partner" the former Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Razak," the filing reads, a full version of which has been provided at the end of the story.
While The Laugh Factory and Harith Iskander ultimately agreed to a joint venture to expand the brand in Asia, it was never executed or formalised.
"Iskander never intended to honour this agreement; rather, it was deceit designed to gain access to and then misappropriate Defendants' protected, proprietary intellectual property, including trade secrets, trademarks, business operations, and other intellectual property," writes attorney David Martin in the filing.
However, Harith Iskander has denied claiming that Najib Razak was his silent partner, adding that the allegation is laughable
"...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 to handle this.
"I don't know quite how to react but it caused everyone around me to burst out in laughter," the comedian wrote on a Facebook post last night, 7 March.
With regard to the contest prize for which Harith has sued The Laugh Factory, Masada said that it was payable in instalments of USD10,000, with each tied to 10 mandatory visits to the US
According to Masada, 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 USD100,000 prize was to be paid in ten instalments that were conditioned on those appearances.
The company claims the comedian failed to meet the performance obligation.