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    HomeTechTwitter may face difficulties showing Meta stole trade secrets

    Twitter may face difficulties showing Meta stole trade secrets


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    (Reuters) – Twitter has accused Meta Platforms of stealing trade secrets to develop its new microblogging site, Threads, potentially setting the stage for a legal battle between the two social media giants. However, experts believe that Twitter will face significant obstacles if it decides to sue. In a letter sent on Wednesday, Twitter alleged that Meta hired former Twitter employees who had retained devices and documents from the company, and assigned them to work on Threads.

    While it remains unclear whether Twitter will take legal action, the company demanded that Meta cease using the alleged trade secrets. A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment, while Meta spokesperson Andy Stone claimed in a Threads post on Thursday that none of the company’s engineering team are former Twitter employees.

    Legal experts point out that proving trade secret theft by a competitor who has hired former employees with similar products is a challenging task. According to Polk Wagner, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, a company must demonstrate that its competitor acquired economically valuable information that it had taken reasonable measures to keep confidential.

    In this regard, determining what constitutes “reasonable efforts” can be complex. “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 explained.

    Meta recently launched Threads, which poses a potential threat to Twitter. Over the past year, Twitter has faced criticism from users and advertisers ever since it was acquired by billionaire Elon Musk. Threads bears similarities to Twitter, as do various other social media platforms introduced in recent months.

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    One aspect that courts consider is whether a company clearly designated specific information as a trade secret to its employees. Sharon Sandeen, a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, mentioned that companies have lost trade secret cases when they relied on broad agreements designating all information as confidential. Such sweeping language fails to provide employees with a clear understanding of what is and isn’t confidential.

    Experts note that companies often initiate trade secret lawsuits only to realize that their claims are weaker than anticipated. Sharon Sandeen cited the high-profile legal battle between Alphabet’s Waymo and Uber Technologies as an example. The case initially involved allegations of thousands of stolen documents but ultimately hinged on a small handful of them. Uber settled the case on the eve of trial by offering $245 million worth of its own shares.

    While trials in trade secret cases are rare, settlements are more common due to the desire to limit public discussion of sensitive information. “The incentives to settle in these sorts of cases are especially strong because nobody wants the secrets being discussed more than necessary,” Wagner said.

    (This story has been refiled to change ‘waive’ to ‘wave’ in paragraph 8)

    (Reporting by Jody Godoy in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Matthew Lewis)

    Credit: The Star : Tech Feed

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