Meta’s new Twitter clone, Threads, has gathered momentum over the past 24 hours and even dominated Twitter’s trends charts.
Twitter owner Elon Musk has been weirdly quiet about the rival platform. His silence on this development is particularly odd given his public criticisms of potential competitors.
It is likely why today, Twitter’s parent company X Corp has launched proceedings against Meta over the Twitter clone app. X Corp is accusing Meta of poaching ex-Twitter employees and ‘systematic, wilful and unlawful misappropriation of trade secrets of Twitter and other intellectual property.’
Some users cannot imagine that it will stand up in any court, but nevertheless.
As reported by Semafor, X Corp says that Meta has hired dozens of former Twitter employees to work on the project, many of whom had copyrighted knowledge of Twitter’s inner workings. The filing also mentions Meta crawling and scraping Twitter’s platform as another possible growth element.
The filing says that Twitter intends to strictly enforce its intellectual property rights and demands that Meta take all immediate steps to stop using Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information.
Twitter reserves all rights, including the right to seek civil remedies and injunctive relief without further notice to prevent any further retention, disclosure, or use of its intellectual property by Meta.
In response, Meta has said that the claims are baseless and that no former Twitter staff are working on Threads.
Though, it is less about evidence and more about mumbling up the process and potentially forcing Meta to slow down its development of Threads because of pending legal action.
It seems unlikely to work, but Musk and Co. have always been quick to jump to legal action and have seen a relatively high successful impact on competitors’ operations.
Of course, various legal complexities are at play here, and several users need the expertise to suggest that Twitter’s action can be dismissed instantly.
But based on the document’s wording and the publicly available info, it doesn’t look like this will hold up, or at least, not to the degree that it could stop Meta from developing Threads into a more viable competitor for Twitter’s offering.
But it does indicate that Musk is, at the least, concerned that Threads could pose a real threat to Twitter’s business.
That is why it is pretty clear that it will be interesting to see how Meta responds to the case and whether it does indeed slow Meta’s development on this front.
It is worth noting that no legal action has ever succeeded in suing a platform over a non-patented functionality, be it stories, short-form videos, news feeds, etc.
These become embedded behaviors and common expectations among social media users, and as a result, they establish new norms in usage; it is then justifiable to be replicated under fair competition laws.
X Corp’s filing is more about ‘trade secrets,’ which is a bit vaguer, and data usage. But it is hard to see how any of these elements have played a part in the development of Threads.
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