Update on “who owns Twitter account” case: Court denies Kravitz’s Motion to Dismiss

If you’re not living under a rock and you’ve been keeping up with the latest developments in social media law such as the case about “who owns your Twitter account”, i.e. PhoneDog v. Kravitz, there is a recent development. The court denied Kravitz’s motion to dismiss the following of PhoneDog’s claims:
  • intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; and
  • negligent interference with prospective economic advantage.
PhoneDog countered Kravitz’s efforts to dismiss these claims by showing  “that it had economic relationships with (1) the approximately 17,000 followers of the Twitter account at issue; (2) its current and prospective advertisers; and (3) CNBC and Fox News, and that each of these economic relationships were actually disrupted by Kravitz’s conduct.” The court analyzed these points and explained its reasoning:
PhoneDog explicitly alleges in its FAC that a significant amount of its income is derived from advertisements on its website, and “advertisers pay for ad inventory on PhoneDog’s website for every 1000 pageviews generated from users visiting PhoneDog’s website.” FAC ¶ 10. Due to Kravitz’s alleged conduct, “there is decreased traffic to [the] website through the Account, which in turn decreases the number of website pageviews and discourages advertisers from paying for ad inventory on PhoneDog’s website.” FAC ¶ 36. “As a direct and proximate result of Defendant’s wrongful acts, PhoneDog has suffered damage to is business by way of lost advertising revenue. . . .” FAC ¶ 38. Based on these factual allegations, the Court is able to draw the reasonable inference that PhoneDog had an economic relationship with at least one third-party advertiser that was disrupted by Kravitz’s alleged conduct, causing it economic harm.
The court found that the alleged relationship between PhoneDog and its current and prospective advertisers was sufficient to defeat Kravitz’s motion and, accordingly, it denied the motion.
If you are interested in reading more, the opinion is available on Google Scholar: PhoneDOG v. Kravitz, Dist. Court, ND California 2012 – Google Scholar.

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