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‘We’re still writing our legacy’: How a legal battle with a multinational media conglomerate derailed a Toronto startup

“I’m energized by the fight ahead,” declared Ross Intelligence co-founder and CEO Andrew Arruda in a mid-December Twitter thread. “Whatever ROSS rises to be in the future, I think our first phase of growth & the lawsuit that put our operations on pause will be remembered as the exposition and rising action of our narrative arc.” 

Arruda was commenting on a fraught legal battle playing out in a Delaware court between the small Toronto-founded startup and multinational Canadian media conglomerate Thomson Reuters. The seven-month-long feud has already claimed Ross as a casualty. The AI-powered legal-research startup, founded in 2015, announced in mid-December that it would cease operations come January 31, citing mounting legal costs and the lawsuit making it impossible to raise new funding. 

However, the company has vehemently denied the allegations of copyright infringement Thomson Reuters and its online database subsidiary Westlaw made in a lawsuit filed in May, and followed news of its closure by filing a counterclaim. 

The startup’s legal woes have imperiled a six-year quest by Arruda and his co-founders Jimoh Ovbiagele and Pargles Dall’Oglio to use AI to make legal research more accessible to the average person. 

One Ross investor, who declined to be identified because the matter is in front of the courts, said the story of Ross also reflects the never-ending battle between “incumbents with capital and emerging tech companies.”

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