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November 29, 2012

PeopleBrowsr Wins Temporary Restraining Order against Twitter

By Tabitha Naylor, Contributing Writer

Earlier this week, Twitter (News - Alert) was sued by PeopleBrowsr in San Francisco Superior Court. Allowing it continued access to the microblogging site's firehose of data, PeopleBrowsr has won a temporary restraining order against Twitter.

It claims that Twitter was restricting its access to the tweets and data that’s essential to providing real-time statistical analysis sought by its clients.

To discuss the injunction, the court scheduled a hearing for January 8, 2013.

For the past four years, PeopleBrowsr mentioned in its complaint that it had paid Twitter $1 million a year in order to be able to access the firehose. PeopleBrowsr claims that in 2011, Twitter apparently told it that in order to be able to closely control its access, it intended to restrict firehose access to a limited number of “Twitter-driven” partnerships.

It is also mentioned in the complaint that in May, Twitter informed PeopleBrowsr to transition off the full firehose and suggested that it seek access through resellers Gnip or DataSift. The two companies entered mediation, during which Twitter informed PeopleBrowsr that by November 30, if no agreement was reached, it would terminate access.

The purpose of the lawsuit, according to PeopleBrowsr, was to maintain an open ecosystem for its unique data.

"We relied on Twitter's promise of openness when we invested millions of dollars and thousands of hours of development time. Long term supply is essential as this industry matures,” Jodee Rich, CEO at PeopleBrowsr, said in a blog post.

A statement from Twitter said that not only was the lawsuit without merit, but that the company planned to vigorously defend against it. Twitter dismissed the lawsuit in its court response, and suggested PeopleBrowsr to acquire basic business education.

At arm's length, an integrated contract with a one year term was negotiated between PeopleBrowsr and Twitter after which either party could terminate at will after giving 30 days' notice.

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Edited by Braden Becker
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