PhoneDog sues ex-employee for Twitter follower value

Noah Kravitz worked for PhoneDog.com four years, started their Twitter feed, and kept it after he left with company blessing. Lawsuit time: the company now wants $340,000.

Kravitz set up the Twitter account and grew the follower base to about 17,000. When he left the company, on good terms, he was asked to keep the active active by posting now and then, which he did. That's why he was so surprised when the company sued him, asking for $2.50 per month per user over eight months, or $340,000.

Two really fun (if you're a lawyer) questions may be decided by this case. First, who owns a company Twitter account, although the early strong bet is the company does, but legal arguments will be made about seven different ways. Second, how much is a Twitter follower worth? That's a much more fun question.

Individual is right

That talent was the marketable asset that customers (Twitter users) wanted to follow, so when the company loses an employee it has to accept that it loses that employee’s services.

Christian Fredrickson on mashable.com

If they want the list they should pay a fair price for it. They owe him the $340,000 or the value of his intellectual property they didn't pay for while he wrote for them.

redkcir-2009 on cnet.com

this just makes you want to sue these companies for privacy issues.

BayviewMortgageInc on marketwatch.com

Twitter followers are neither a customer list nor a trade secrete. Both need to be confidential in order to hold value, and Twitter followers are most certainly not a secrete.

aka_tripleB on cnet.com

Company is right

If the account was created to promote the company, it is fairly owned by the company. Often these accounts have a reference to the company in the username.

Adena DeMonte on mashable.com

EVERYTHING YOU DO AT WORK IS CONSIDERED company PROPERTY and thereby covered by PROPERTY RIGHTS

jsaba on marketwatch.com

Lawyers are crazy

Phonedog gets some really bad press with their newfound reputation for attacking writers.

Jeff Smith on mashable.com

Good luck proving more than half of the accounts are ACTUALLY CUSTOMERS.

SHMOD on marketwatch.com

Twitter accounts are owned by Twitter. I think Twitter should have the say in who gets to use it.

paulej on cnet.com

Would you pay $2.50 per month to NOT follow, read, or hear about most "TwitCelebs" activities?

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