Following the launch of Threads, a social media platform that has been dubbed ‘Twitter killer’, Elon Musk has accused Meta of trade secret theft through the hiring of ‘dozens’ of former Twitter employees.
Threads, an Instagram-linked platform, went live on Wednesday evening with 30 million user sign-ups less than 24 hours after launching.
The app’s concept bears similarities to Twitter’s core functionality, where users can reply to and conversationally build upon existing tweets.
Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg posted a meme on Twitter a few hours after Threads launched to point at the fact that Threads resembles Twitter to some degree.
— Mark Zuckerberg (@finkd) July 6, 2023
In a letter addressed to Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, said that Meta had engaged in “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
Spiro explained that this “misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets” is due to the recruitment of ex-Twitter employees by Meta to develop the “copycat ‘Threads’ app.”
The letter reads, “Over the past year, Meta has hired dozens of former Twitter employees. Twitter knows that these employees previously worked at Twitter, that these employees had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information; that these employees owe ongoing obligations to Twitter; and that many of these employees have improperly retained Twitter’s documents and electronic devices.
“With that knowledge, Meta deliberately assigned these employees to develop, in a matter of months, Meta’s copycat ‘Threads’ app with the specific intent that they use Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal law as well as those employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter.”
To “strictly enforce its intellectual property rights”, Spiro demanded that “Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information.”
He continued, “Twitter reserves all rights, including, but not limited to, 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.”
Corroborating his lawyer’s letter, Twitter boss Musk dropped a curt tweet which reads: “Competition is fine, cheating is not.
Competition is fine, cheating is not
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 6, 2023
However, Meta has dismissed the claims that it hired former Twitter employees to develop Threads.
Refuting the allegation, Meta’s communications director, Andy Stone, stated that “that’s not just a thing.”
“To be clear: No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee — that’s just not a thing,” his post on the trending social media platform read.
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