Meta Seeks Dismissal of Defunct Rival PHHHOTO’s Antitrust Suit

Meta Platforms Inc., owner of the social media platform Instagram, told a Brooklyn, New York judge to reject PHHHOTO Inc.’s monopolization and unfair business practice case on Monday. Meta’s reply brief doubled down on arguments that the would-be rival’s claims are both untimely and fail to satisfy the federal pleading standard.

Phhhoto sued Meta arguing that it liked Phhhoto’s idea so much, it decided to disenfranchise the young company and eventually launch an identical feature which Meta called “Boomerang” and integrated into its Instagram app. As previously reported, Phhhoto’s filing detailed a series of purportedly unlawful actions on part of Meta that caused the start-up to lose its toehold in the social media arena. 

Phhhoto asserted that it suffered at the hands of Meta’s total domination, or legally speaking, its monopolization of the personal social networking market.

Now, Meta has fired back, arguing for dismissal on multiple grounds. The social media platform operator contends that Phhhoto’s antitrust claim is time-barred because all of the challenged conduct occurred more than four years before Phhhoto sued. Meta adds that Phhhoto has neither a fraudulent concealment defense because it had notice of its claim by April 2016, nor a continuing violation defense because it alleged no overt act thereafter.

As to the merits of Phhhoto’s claims, Meta contends that the conduct at issue, including its alleged refusal to assist Phhhoto in promoting its app and its launch of a competing service, are lawful. Lastly, Meta says that the complaint fails to offer a properly defined market as “its assertion that Instagram was ‘critical infrastructure’ to ‘personal social networking’ rivals is unsupported by any properly alleged facts.”

The case is before Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto.

Phhhoto is represented by Hausfeld LLP and Carr & Ferrell LLP. Meta is represented by  Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick P.L.L.C.