Defunct animated photography app Phhhoto is attempting to revive a lawsuit against Meta — in which the company accused Instagram of copying its main feature.
Phhhoto launched in July 2014 and reached 10 million registered users within two years.
Phhhoto’s technology allowed users to hold down the shutter button on a smartphone camera and capture five frames “in a single point-and-shoot burst,” which could be looped into a short back-and-forth looping GIF or video that could be shared either on its own platform or on Instagram.
But in April 2015, Instagram reportedly cut off Phhhoto from its social graph and launched a clone called “Boomerang” in October that went on to be integrated into the popular Instagram Stories feature.
By 2017, Phhhoto had to shut down its app. And four years later, in 2021, the now-defunct photography app sued Meta (formerly known as Facebook) on antitrust grounds.
Phhhoto claimed that Meta had feigned interest in working with it, claiming the social media giant downloaded and copied its main animated photography feature as Boomerang and also alleged that Meta hid its name from search results and Instagram’s API. Phhhoto alleges that Meta’s actions effectively drove it out of business.
According to the company, Meta had previously opened up a conversation to integrate Phhhoto, but the app founders claim that this outward effort was just a show. Instead, the lawsuit alleges Facebook wanted to get rid of the competition and force Phhhoto out of business in violation of federal antitrust law.
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto of Brooklyn, New York dismissed Phhhoto’s lawsuit against Meta — because the allegations stemmed from 2016, outside the four-year window for antitrust plaintiffs to sue.
However, Reuters reports that attorneys for Phhhoto urged a U.S. appeals court to revive its legal claims against Meta last week.
An attorney for Phhhoto told the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a lower trial court judge wrongly found the app’s competition lawsuit against Meta was not filed in time. Phhhoto’s attorney argued that Meta fraudulently “concealed” the change to its algorithm, making Phhhoto unable to immediately discern what was happening to the app and why.
“There was no evidence at all to lead them to believe that the algorithm was suppressing photo-related content,” the attorney says.
Meta has denied that it concealed anything from Phhhoto and urged the appeals court to uphold the dismissal of the lawsuit.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.