What Happened: Shortly after the launch of Threads, Elon Musk instructed Twitter’s legal representatives to send a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The social media giant, Musk says, recruited former Twitter employees to develop the “copycat” application.
According to Twitter, Meta had reportedly recruited numerous former Twitter employees, a significant portion of whom were accused of “improperly retaining” company devices and documents.
Twitter further alleged that Meta intentionally assigned these individuals to contribute to the development of Threads.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone insists that none of the individuals on Meta’s engineering team were former employees of Twitter.
Many companies have accused their competitors of poaching employees and creating a similar product or stealing trade secrets. But the cases are challenging to prove.
“To win, a company needs to show its competitor took information that was economically valuable and which the company had taken reasonable efforts to keep secret,” Polk Wagner, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told Reuters.
Trials are rare, but settlements are common, Wagner explained, because “nobody wants the secrets being discussed more than necessary.”
Recall another tech case: Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGLE) Waymo vs. Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER). The initial accusations of widespread trade secret theft were eventually reduced to a few disputed documents.
The case began with allegations of thousands of stolen documents and ended with a dispute over a small handful, Sharon Sandeen, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, told Reuters.
“Courts have said that employees have no way of knowing from such sweeping language what is and is not confidential,” she said.
And companies often bring forward trade-secret cases only to find their claims are weaker than they thought.
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