Del Mar's Joel Tudor is a surfing icon, having won the United States Open of longboarding eight times. But on November 19 in federal court in New York, a onetime business partner, Andrew Blauschild, a New York City resident, sued Tudor over activities at their company, Kookbox Surfboards.
Blauschild charged, among other things, that Tudor had threatened a local manager of the company and then spewed profanity at Blauschild, who fired him. Then Tudor began bad-mouthing the company, telling vendors that he was now in control.
Tudor, or somebody working on his behalf, also broke into a San Diego Kookbox warehouse and filched about $12,000 in merchandise, according to the lawsuit, which was written up in the New York Post in late November.
However, the Post had not gotten a detailed account of Tudor's side of the story. I got to Marc Stern, Tudor's attorney:
"This is meritless. There is no basis for any of these complaints," says Stern. "This is an attempt to extort Joel."
Documents show Tudor had applied for the Kookbox trademark a number of months before Blauschild registered the company in New York.
"Joel had already begun selling the surfboards" before Blauschild arrived on the scene, says Stern. Tudor had also set up a bank account in the Kookbox name "long before Blauschild was involved," says Stern.
It wasn't until 2011 that Blauschild sent Tudor a partnership agreement to sign. But Tudor wouldn't sign it. Blauschild was sending Tudor money for boards that were sold in certain markets, but the disagreement began when the payments stopped, says Stern.
"Joel wanted to use the money for other things, including feeding his family. The dispute over money was that Joel wasn't getting any," says Stern.
Tudor, who was paying money for production of the boards, then told Blauschild that he was not authorized to sell the equipment.
Blauschild called the cops on Tudor, but the local gendarmes said it was a civil matter and ducked out.
"If [Blauschild] forces us to respond, we will file a cross-complaint for conversion, fraud, and violation of trademark law (the Lanham Act)," says Stern.
I gave Daniel Gershburg, Blauschild's New York lawyer, a chance to comment on Stern's remarks.
"This is in litigation. We will let the allegations in the complaint speak for themselves," says Gershburg.