PROVO, UTAH (CN) – A blind man says his business partner, also blind, forced him to unwittingly sign over rights to technology for an electronic note-taking device. Rod Bulloch unknowingly transferred his ownership of the technology to Kevin Bleyl, who told him the bill of sale would be used to solicit funds for a new chapter of the Utah Council of the Blind, which Bulloch had organized, Bulloch claims in Utah County Court.
Bulloch says he noticed Bleyl’s “Braille and Speak” electronic note-taking device in early 2007 and set out to make a more compact version. He found an engineer to develop his own product, “Braille on the Go,” or BONGO.
Bulloch and Bleyl then opened a local chapter of Utah Council of the Blind with a $100,000 donation to launch the nonprofit. Bulloch says Bleyl pressured him to make the venture for-profit, and when he resisted, Bleyl broke off and formed his own company, with nonprofit façade.
He claims Bleyl then withdrew funds from the nonprofit’s account by getting a signature purportedly for “a receipt or some minor document,” and deposited the money into a new account on which he was sole signatory. Bleyl also called the nonprofit’s donors and told them not to fund the Utah County Chapter, that he owned the product technology, the lawsuit states. Bleyl also set the Utah Division of Consumer Protection and the local police office after the Bulloch’s nonprofit, according to the lawsuit.
Bulloch also claims that Bleyl, while working for the Utah County Chapter, secretly solicited investments from the National Braille Press, providing them with two prototypes of the note-taking device worth $60,000, which they refuse to return.
Bulloch and the Utah County Chapter of the Utah Council for the Blind seek $150,000 and punitive damages for fraud, trespass, and slander. They are represented by Brandon Wood of Orem.