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Third Party Developer Fights Back; Wins Restraining Order Against Twitter

You knew it was coming – you knew someone big was going to get ticked at Twitter’s new API restrictions and take action, but did you ever expect it would take the form of a restraining order? Or that the developer would, at least temporarily, win?

PeopleBrowsr’s court action against Twitter today may seem suicidal (because it kind of is), but is that a bell tolling in the distance? Not for PeopleBrowsr or third party developers though – for Twitter.

TechCrunch reports that Twitter’s response is pretty dismissive

This is Contracts 101. Although PeopleBrowsr attempts to dress its case up as some sort of grand antitrust or interference case, it is not. The operative facts could not be simpler, or more dispositive. PeopleBrowsr and Twitter negotiated, at arm’s length, an integrated contract with a one year term, after which either party could terminate at will after giving 30 days’ notice. Twitter has exercised that contractual right. PeopleBrowsr attempts to ignore the plain language of the contract by imagining completely different contract, arguing that ‘Twitter contracted to provide an open ecosystem.’ … Nonsense.

This is expected, based on how things have been going. And it’s understandable – to a point. It IS their platform after all and they have the right to do what they want with it, naturally.

But PeopleBrowsr’s expert witness, Robert. G Harris, Professor Emeritus in the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and expert in competition and patent policies, “said in an affidavit “Twitter promoted its ‘open ecosystem’ to encourage third parties to risk their time and money building businesses that depended on Twitter to survive”.

And although many people (including Twitter) take issue with the “open ecosystem” phrasing, can anyone really take issue with the rest? Didn’t Twitter encourage third parties to risk their time and money building businesses powered by Twitter? And how is it good business sense to consistently – and publicly – demolish business partners?

So what does this mean for the microblogging platform long-term? Sure, they’ll probably win this battle with PeopleBrowsr, if for no other reason than Twitter’s legal team is pretty unbeatable (and there’s that nasty business of contractual facts). But they’re not exactly the only social media platform on the block, and they seem to be forgetting that.

How do YOU think this will all turn out?

(Boxing image from Shutterstock) 

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