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Tech Site Sues Ex-Employee, Claiming Rights To His Twitter Account 267

nonprofiteer writes "Noah Kravitz worked as a mobile phone reviewer for a tech website called Phonedog for four and a half years. While there, he started a Twitter account (of his own volition) with the handle @PhoneDog_Noah to tweet his stories and videos for the site as well as personal stuff about sports, food, music, etc. When he left Phonedog, he had approximately 17,000 followers and changed his Twitter handle to @noahkravitz. This summer, Phonedog started barking that it wanted the Twitter account back, and sued Kravitz, valuing the account at $340,000 (!), or $2.50 per follower per month. Kravitz claims the Twitter account was his own property. A California judge ruled that the case can proceed and theoretically go to trial. Meanwhile, Kravitz continues to tweet."
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Tech Site Sues Ex-Employee, Claiming Rights To His Twitter Account

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 14, 2011 @06:16PM (#38053212)

    RTFA: it was not part of his job. He removed the name of the company from the handle when he left. That's all there is to it.

  • by nomel ( 244635 ) <turd@ i n o r b i t . com> on Monday November 14, 2011 @06:48PM (#38053568) Homepage Journal

    We don't know what his employment that he signed when he started said, so everything here is assumption.

    Every company I've worked for (except my first job, round table) had a very clear agreement in the employment contract that anything I made during work hours belonged to the company, and any inventions I made outside outside of work hours had pretty strong limitations (it couldn't be, at all, related to my job). If he signed something even similar to all of the contracts I've signed, the account belongs to them.

  • by amalek ( 615708 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @07:24PM (#38053904)
    I worked for a software dev company before, quite well known, and in my contract was a specific clause stating *anything* I produced, no matter where and when, would be considered the intellectual property of the company. They were pretty cool guys in general so I questioned the motivation behind it some months into my employment. Turns out they'd been burned badly before by having some of their assets reused and sold off, and henceforth used that clause as a contractual safety net. In practise however, things were generally totally open and innovative with a lot of devs working on separate projects; the enforcement of this clause depended on your own standing and relationship with the company. In other words, it's very possible he had this in his contract and for precisely the same reasons this case has gone to court.
  • by NeoMorphy ( 576507 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @10:09PM (#38055200)

    And you actually signed this agreement ???!

    These kind of contracts are pretty common, either you sign it or no job. It sucks, but who's going to make their family starve and become a martyr for the cause? Drug tests, background checks, contracts, all of the big companies do it. As long as the corporations are in power you'll have to just deal with it, for now.

  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Monday November 14, 2011 @11:13PM (#38055492)

    No, it's actually not common. Agreements that anything you make at work, or substantially related to work belongs to the company are common. Anything more than that is not common, and is the company trying to fuck you over. Refuse to sign without changing that clause and they will cave. If they don't, you don't want to work there anyway.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"