Twitter Changes Position On Eve of Discovery Battle in Firehose Restraining Order Case with PeopleBrowsr

(San Francisco, CA) – December 4, 2012
On November 28, PeopleBrowsr won a temporary restraining order compelling Twitter to continue providing full Firehose access. PeopleBrowsr was due to file in San Francisco Superior Court today for preliminary discovery with a hearing to take place on Wednesday, December 4.

Twitter filed a ‘Notice of Removal’ to Federal Court on the eve of the December 4 discovery hearing, claiming this is a federal antitrust case and should be decided in Federal Court.

There was to be a hearing over deposing Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams and the discovery of documents relating to Twitter policy on the Firehose. The companies had agreed that Doug Williams, Twitter’s Head of Business Development; Kelton Lynn, Twitter’s Head of Mobile Business Development; Jodee Rich, Founder and CEO of PeopleBrowsr; and Bob Harris, Professor Emeritus of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business and a Twitter antitrust expert would be deposed over the coming weeks

Last week, Twitter told the San Francisco Superior Court, “This is Contracts 101. Although PeopleBrowsr attempts to dress up its case as some sort of grand antitrust or interference case, it is not”. Twitter’s new petition is contrary to the company’s previous statement that there “was no merit to PeopleBrowsr’s claim” of unfair competition.  Now, Twitter has removed the case from San Francisco Superior Court to the Federal Court on the basis that “PeopleBrowsr’s complaint and TRO papers reveal that its Section 17200 claim is based on federal antitrust law”, and antitrust cases must be decided in federal court.

“Twitter’s inconsistent representations to the State and Federal Courts reinforce our case. Last week, they said this was a contracts issue. This week, it’s an antitrust issue, ” said Rich.

The issue to be determined is whether the Federal Court has jurisdiction. In the meantime, PeopleBrowsr’s temporary restraining order against Twitter will remain in place and PeopleBrowsr continue to have full access to the Firehose.

 

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Sarah Kirsch

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