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Business News/ Technology / Twitter alleges Meta Platforms stole trade secrets for Threads, potential legal battle looms

Twitter alleges Meta Platforms stole trade secrets for Threads, potential legal battle looms

Twitter has initiated a potential legal battle against Meta Platforms, accusing the company of stealing trade secrets to develop its new microblogging site, Threads. Legal experts say Twitter would face challenges in pursuing such a lawsuit.

For representation purposes (AP/PTI)Premium
For representation purposes (AP/PTI)

Twitter's initiation of a potential legal battle against Meta Platforms, alleging that the latter stole trade secrets to develop its new microblogging site, marks the first step in what could be a contentious dispute between the social media giants. However, legal experts assert that Twitter would face significant challenges in pursuing such a lawsuit.

According to a report by Reuters, Twitter sent a letter on Wednesday accusing Meta of utilizing its trade secrets in the development of its latest social media platform, Threads. In the letter, Twitter demanded that Meta cease using the confidential information. 

Twitter further claimed that Meta had recruited numerous former Twitter employees who had allegedly kept unauthorized devices and documents from their time at Twitter. Additionally, Twitter asserted that Meta deliberately assigned these individuals to work on Threads.

The filing of a potential lawsuit remained uncertain at this stage. Responding to the allegations, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone stated in a Threads post on Thursday that none of the engineering team members involved with the platform had previously worked for Twitter. 

Legal experts noted that while numerous companies have accused rivals, who have hired former employees and developed similar products, of trade secret theft, such cases are challenging to substantiate in court.

According to Polk Wagner, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in order to succeed in a lawsuit, a company must demonstrate that its competitor acquired economically valuable information that the company had taken "reasonable efforts" to safeguard as a secret. However, determining what qualifies as a "reasonable effort" can be a complex matter, he added.

"The courts are pretty clear that you can't just wave your hands and say something is a trade secret. On the other hand, you don't have to lock everything down so much that nobody can use the information," Wagner said.

On Wednesday, Meta introduced Threads, potentially posing the initial significant challenge to Twitter. Since billionaire Elon Musk acquired the microblogging site last year, Twitter has faced criticism from numerous users and advertisers, leading to a decline in its popularity.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Published: 08 Jul 2023, 09:19 AM IST
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