Most would tread carefully to avoid upsetting a Green Beret, but Meta evidently didn’t get the memo, choosing to copy his app.
A former Green Beret launched Voxer in 2011, a walkie-talkie messaging app. The app went on to win Best Overall App at the 2013 First Annual Silicon Valley Business App Awards.
According to MilitaryTimes.com, Meta (then Facebook) approached Voxer in 2012 to investigate collaboration between the two companies. The talks led to Voxer sharing its patents and disclosing confidential information with Meta.
Unfortunately, the deal ultimately fell through, but Meta went on to create Facebook Live and Instagram Live. In the process, Meta identified Voxer as a competitor, even before it had any product that competed with Voxer, and blocked the startup’s access to certain Facebook components.
“When early meetings did not result in an agreement, Facebook identified Voxer as a competitor although Facebook had no live video or voice product at the time,” court filings read. “Facebook revoked Voxer’s access to key components of the Facebook platform and launched Facebook Live in 2015 followed by Instagram Live in 2016. Both products incorporate Voxer’s technologies and infringe its patents.”
A judge has sided with Voxer, ordering Meta to pay $175 million for infringing Voxer’s patents.
A Meta spokesperson sent a statement to TechCrunch disputing the ruling and indicating the company intends to appeal.
“We believe the evidence at trial demonstrated that Meta did not infringe Voxer’s patents,” the statement reads. “We intend to seek further relief, including filing an appeal.”