Or, according to PhoneDog LLC, $765,000.00 a Twitter account and counting.  The suit brought by PhoneDog LLC on July 15, 2011 includes four claims against former employee, Noah Kravitz: 1) misappropriation of trade secrets; 2) intentional interference with prospective economic advantage; 3) negligent interference with prospective economic advantage; and 4) conversion.  United States District Judge Maria-Elena James, a California federal judge, granted in part and denied in part Kravitz’s motion to dismiss in her November 8, 2011 decision.  PhoneDog filed an amended complaint later that month, and Judge James issued a decision on January 30, 2012 finding that all pleading deficiencies had been cured and denying Kravitz’s motion to dismiss in full.

This dispute centers on two issues— Twitter account ownership and Twitter account valuation.  PhoneDog provides an interactive website that includes news and reviews for mobiles and other related products.  According to the lawsuit, Kravitz worked for PhoneDog from April 2006 through October 2010.  While at PhoneDog, Kravitz utilized PhoneDog’s social media outlets, including a Twitter account, originally created for PhoneDog, to post reviews and videos of mobile-related products.  During his time at PhoneDog, Kravitz allegedly accrued approximately 17,000 Twitter followers.   

According to the amended complaint, upon his departure from PhoneDog, Kravitz was asked to stop using the Twitter account.  Instead, Kravitz changed the name on the account and continued to Tweet to the 17,000 followers—this time, on behalf of his new company, a competitor of PhoneDog LLC.

PhoneDog claims that the Twitter account should be afforded trade secret status and asserts that Kravitz’s continued use has cost the company thousands; $42,500 a month to be exact ($2.50 a month per follower).  PhoneDog also argues that Kravitz’s continued use of the Twitter account constitutes negligent interference with prospective economic advantages, and that Kravitz’s actions were willful and negligent.

Kravitz filed his answer to the amended complaint on February 14, 2012, along with counterclaims against PhoneDog for: 1) declaratory judgement regarding the ownership of the Twitter account; 2) promissory estoppel; 3) false promise (fraud); 4) negligent misrepresentation; and 5) unauthorized use of Kravitz’s likeness in promotion of www.phonedog.com.  PhoneDog filed an answer to the counterclaim on March 6, 2012.

The case is PhoneDog LLC v. Kravitz, case number 3:11-cv-03474, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.