Meta’s newly launched app, Threads, designed to compete with Twitter, has encountered legal obstacles just hours after its release. Despite garnering an impressive user base of over 30 million since its Thursday (June 6) launch, the rival social media platform has issued a lawsuit threat, alleging infringement on its intellectual property rights.
In a letter addressed to Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter’s lawyer Alex Spiro accused Meta of hiring former Twitter employees with access to trade secrets and confidential information.
“Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information,” Spiro wrote in the letter.
Twitter has accused Meta of unlawfully employing former Twitter employees to create a “copycat” application. In the letter, Spiro stated that Twitter is committed to strictly enforcing its intellectual property rights and demanded that Meta cease the use of any Twitter trade secrets or highly confidential information.
The letter also mentioned that Twitter reserves all rights, including pursuing civil remedies and seeking injunctive relief, without further notice to prevent any further retention, disclosure, or utilization of its intellectual property by Meta, reported Semafor.
Spiro further alleged that Meta had hired numerous former Twitter employees who had access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information, creating concerns about the misuse of proprietary knowledge.
In response to the report regarding Alex Spiro’s letter on behalf of Twitter, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone has issued a statement. Stone refuted the claim that former Twitter employees were involved in the development of the Threads app, stating that “no one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee – that’s just not a thing.”
Meta unveiled Threads on Wednesday as a text-based companion to Instagram, bearing resemblance to Twitter and other text-based social media platforms.
Elon Musk, the Twitter boss, responded to the launch of Meta’s Threads by sharing his thoughts on the microblogging site. In a retweet of an image comparing the Threads logo to a tapeworm, Musk added a comment that said: “Metaphorically too.”
In another tweet, he said that competition is fine, cheating is not. He also went on to say that any social media monopoly is not good.
Intellectual property law experts, including Stanford law professor Mark Lemley, suggest that Twitter would need more substantial evidence beyond the contents of the letter to press a trade secret theft claim against Meta, reported Reuters.
The mere hiring of former Twitter employees and the similarity between Meta’s platform and Twitter’s may not be sufficient to support such a claim.
According to Jeanne Fromer, a professor at New York University, companies alleging trade secret theft must demonstrate that they took reasonable steps to protect their corporate secrets, Reuters reported.
Since Musk took over Twitter last year, the social media platform has been seeing a lot of changes. The long-time users of the microblogging website have been mostly critical of these changes, and have even accused the Tesla CEO of destroying the platform.
This lawsuit threat adds to the series of controversial decisions made by Twitter, which have led to dissatisfaction among many users and advertisers.
One recent decision by Elon Musk was to limit the number of tweets users can read per day.
Since Musk’s takeover of Twitter in October, the platform has faced competition from Mastodon, Bluesky, and other platforms. Although Threads resembles the microblogging features of Twitter, it currently lacks support for keyword searches and direct messages.
Platforms like Mastodon, Gab, Parler and Bluesky have tried very hard, but none of them have come close to the popularity of Twitter. There has been no good alternative to Twitter, which can be a great source of real-time news and updates, follows the short-form content rule, and has high interactivity.