Thursday, February 22, 2024

Twitter threatens to sue Meta over ‘copycat’ Threads app

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Twitter has taken a strong stance against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, by threatening legal action over Meta’s newly introduced Threads app. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, has openly presented Threads as a direct rival to Twitter. In response, Twitter has accused Meta of infringing upon its intellectual property rights.

In a letter addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, outlined the company’s concerns regarding Meta’s alleged systematic and deliberate misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other confidential information. Twitter firmly asserts its intention to vigorously protect its intellectual property rights and demands that Meta immediately cease the utilization of any trade secrets or highly confidential information belonging to Twitter.

The letter, which was first published by the news outlet Semafor, demonstrates Twitter’s determination to take legal action and enforce its rights in response to what it perceives as unauthorized use of its proprietary knowledge by Meta. By raising the issue with Meta’s CEO, Twitter seeks to address what it views as an infringement on its intellectual property rights and expects Meta to promptly address the situation.

The potential legal dispute between Twitter and Meta highlights the competitive nature of the social media landscape and the importance of safeguarding intellectual property in an increasingly digital world. Both companies have a vested interest in protecting their respective technologies and trade secrets, as intellectual property forms a crucial foundation for innovation and differentiation in the highly competitive tech industry.

Twitter has taken a strong stance against Meta, the parent company of Facebook, by threatening legal action over Meta’s newly introduced Threads app. Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, has openly presented Threads as a direct rival to Twitter. In response, Twitter has accused Meta of infringing upon its intellectual property rights.

Following Twitter’s cease-and-desist letter, Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, responded on Threads, stating that there are no engineers on the Threads team who previously worked at Twitter. Stone’s statement contradicts Twitter’s claim that former employees at Meta had access to Twitter’s intellectual property or trade secrets.

Twitter’s evidence regarding Meta employees retaining access to Twitter’s confidential information remains unclear. When asked for comment, Twitter responded with an automated email containing a poop emoji, which does not shed light on the matter.

In addition to the dispute over trade secrets, Twitter has accused Meta of being “prohibited” from scraping data from any Twitter service. This accusation comes as Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter, has taken steps to restrict data scraping, such as limiting the number of tweets users can view per day. Musk’s action was purportedly aimed at preventing companies from utilizing Twitter data to train their AI models.

A preliminary search conducted by The Guardian on LinkedIn revealed several Meta employees hired in the past year who had previously worked at Twitter. However, it is common for tech employees, especially those with experience in social media platforms, to switch companies, making it challenging to draw definitive conclusions solely based on their employment history. The true extent of any potential intellectual property infringement or data scraping remains to be determined through further investigation and legal proceedings.

The threat of a lawsuit over trade secret appropriation is not without precedent or consequence in the tech industry. In 2018, for instance, the Google-owned self-driving car company Waymo sued Uber over trade secrets theft, after a top executive at Waymo left the company to join Uber’s efforts to produce its own self-driving technology. Google and Uber ultimately settled for $245m. The employee in question, Anthony Levandowski, was later charged with trade secrets theft and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison, which he did not serve because he was pardoned by former president Donald Trump.

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