Twitter has threatened Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg with a intellectual property theft lawsuit after the technology company launched its new social media platform Threads on Wednesday.

In a letter to Zuckerberg, Twitter lawyer Alex Spiro alleged that Meta has engaged in “systematic, willful, and unlawful misappropriation of Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property”.

He also claimed that Meta hired dozens of ex-Twitter employees to develop Threads after thousands of them were laid off following businessman Elon Musk’s takeover of the company.

Meta’s new social media application is being seen as a rival to Twitter. Users on Threads can share text updates and join public conversations. The app gives users a 500-character count limit for their text posts, while they can also include links, photos and videos of up to five minutes in length. Threads is also allowing its verified Instagram accounts to keep their blue badge.

In his letter to Zuckerberg, Spiro alleged that Meta assigned former Twitter employees the task of developing the “copycat ‘Threads’ app” with the intent to use “Twitter’s trade secrets and other intellectual property”.

He added that Twitter intends to “strictly enforce its intellectual property rights, and demands that Meta take immediate steps to stop using any Twitter trade secrets or other highly confidential information”.

Musk also confirmed the development on Friday as he wrote in a tweet: “Competition is fine, cheating is not”.

Meanwhile, Meta Communications Director Andy Stone on Friday denied hiring any former Twitter employee for the engineering team of Threads.

Withing 24 hours of its launch, 3 crore users signed up on Threads application, Zuckerberg said on Thursday.

The launch is being seen as Meta’s strategic move to attract Twitter users unhappy with several changes on the application since businessman Elon Musk bought the company last year. Last week, Twitter had restricted the number of tweets verified and unverified users could see on the platform per day.

Earlier in April, the microblogging platform had also started removing the blue tick icons that were a mark of verification of the user’s identity on the platform. Twitter had made the blue tick available to any user who pays a monthly subscription fee of $8 (over Rs 650).