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Business and Company Law

Twitter ordered to disclose information about abusive parody account

Twitter has been ordered by the High Court to reveal who was in control of an account which used the Fastway Couriers logo and published abusive tweets on the platform.

Information about the account, which ridiculed and teased Fastway Couriers, is to be disclosed by Twitter pursuant to an order of Mr Justice Allen of the High Court on 5th June 2020.

The account underwent a number of name changes since 2019 with the most recent Twitter handle of “Fartways Deliveries Ireland”, having previously operated under the name “Fastwank Couriers” with the promise, “We fail to deliver your promises”.

Twitter suspended the account when Fastway Couriers legal team wrote to it advising of the legal proceedings. However, Twitter then restored the account once it established that the account was not in breach of Twitter’s rules.

The Twitter account had approximately 3,000 followers and Twitter concerned that genuine users of its service may be misled by the account into thinking it was a genuine account of Fastway Couriers.

Mr Justice Allen did not accept that anyone could have believed they were dealing with the genuine Fastway Couriers by reason of the incredible claims emanating from it, claims such as that some parcels had been eaten by drivers of the vans or flung over the rainbow.

Foul and abusive language also featured together with disparaging remarks about various locations in Ireland as being less than desirable destinations or places to live.

Whilst Fastway Couriers failed to persuade the High Court that its drivers were accused of using foul and abusive language it did succeed in its argument that its drivers and staff were unfairly depicted as incompetent and unprofessional.

Fastway Couriers also argued that their rights in their intellectual property-their logo, name and registered trade mark-were breached. The court agreed that the association of the tweets from the account with the company name and logo could be damaging and granted a Norwich Pharmacal Order on the basis that the Plaintiff had made out a “strong prima facie case” of damage and loss to its business by reason of the activities of the account controller.

The Norwich Pharmacal order allows Fastway Couriers to take legal proceedings against the operators of the account.

Read the full decision here: Parcel Connect -v- Twitter International Company [2020] IEHC 279