Lawsuit could set precedent on tweets

Dec. 26, 2011 at 12:53 PM
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OAKLAND, Calif., Dec. 26 (UPI) -- An Internet firm said a lawsuit filed in California over a Twitter account is about protection of its customer lists and intellectual property.

In a statement, the firm, PhoneDog Media, said, "The costs and resources invested by PhoneDog Media into growing its followers, fans and general brand awareness through social media are substantial and are considered property of PhoneDog Media L.L.C. We intend to aggressively protect our customer lists and confidential information, intellectual property, trademark and brands."

The New York Times reported Monday that suit against a former PhoneDog employee Noah Kravitz concerned the Twitter account he started while he worked at company.

Kravitz established a following of 17,000 people, but left the company in 2010 and continued writing the blog with, he said, the company's permission.

Eight months later, PhoneDog filed a suit and is asking for $2.50 per month per reader in damages -- a total of $340,000.

"This will establish precedent in the online world, as it relates to ownership of social media accounts. We've actually been waiting to see such a case as many of our clients are concerned about the ownership of social media accounts vis-a-vis their branding," said New York attorney Henry Cittone, specializes in intellectual property cases.

"It all hinges on why the account was opened," he said.

"If it was to communicate with PhoneDog's customers or build up new customers or prospects, then the account was opened on behalf of PhoneDog, not Mr. Kravitz," Cittone said.

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