tweetmeme1A small tiff erupted over the weekend between two competitors seeking control over the retweeting space. Retweeting, a way of sharing content on Twitter, provides valuable data for surfacing the most popular content over a certain time.

Tweetmeme, an aggregator that finds popular content on Twitter, accused a still-unlaunched competitor called Retweet.com of copying its code verbatim. Although Retweet.com hasn’t yet opened to the public, Tweetmeme’s founder Nick Halstead discovered some code through a commenter, who left a link to his rival’s development environment on a review of the site over the weekend. Retweet.com acknowledged parts of its code were based on Tweetmeme’s scripts and agreed to remove them.

Halstead writes on his blog:

What we found ourselves was that our retweet button Javascript and the WordPress plugin code seemed to have been directly copied from ours.

We are happy for others to learn from our endeavors and flattered by the copying but some of our more complex JavaScript was obfuscated to deter others from attempting to re-use our code. We take a dim view of trying to pass off our code especially when it is attempting to create a competitor.

We our seeking further legal advice and will be pursuing every avenue to protect the hard work of our team.

Kevin Mesiab, the CEO of Mesiab Labs LLC, which is behind Retweet.com wrote:

After some prompt discussions with our development team, we discovered that, indeed, one of our developers had based a prototype button and widget on tweetmeme.com’s publicly viewable scripts and some of the same open source wordpress code.

….

As a company that prides itself on innovation and cutting edge development, we were a bit embarassed by the blunder, and promptly removed the scripts.  Despite being well within our rights to use the publicly licensed code, we believe we can do better.