Threads has been billed specifically by Mark Zuckerberg as a Twitter rival. That has ruffled feathers at Twitter HQ who have threatened to sue parent company, Meta, for violating Twitter’s “intellectual property rights”.
In a letter sent to Meta CEO Zuckerberg (via Semafor), Twitter lawyer, Alex Spiro, wrote that the company “has serious concerns that Meta Platforms (Meta) has engaged with systematic, willful and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property.”
“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.”
Threads launched on July 6 to a positive reception and over 30 million sign-ups in less than 24-hours after launching. The advantage is the integration with Instagram that provides a built-in user base.
“This is as good of a start as we could have hoped for!” Zuckerberg said in a thread.
Part of Twitter’s cease-and-desist letter claims that Meta had poached several of their former employees within the past year, some of whom “had and continue to have access to Twitter’s trade secrets and other highly confidential information” who have also “improperly” kept Twitter documents on their devices.
The letter reads, “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 intellectual property in order to accelerate the development of Meta’s competing app, in violation of both state and federal law as well as employees’ ongoing obligations to Twitter.”
Musk himself tweeted that, “Competition is fine, cheating is not.”
It hasn’t been made clear what evidence Twitter has towards these allegations.
The threat of lawsuit over trade secret appropriation isn’t without precedent. Google-owned self-driving company, Waymo, sued Uber over trade secret thefts in 2018. A top executive at Waymo had left to join Uber to assist in their own self-driving car program. The case was settled for $245 million.