By Mike Scarcella
(Reuters) – A U.S. judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms Inc that alleged its Facebook social media business drove a now-defunct photo software application startup out of business in violation of federal antitrust law.
U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto in Brooklyn, New York, federal court said in her 67-page order that Phhhoto Inc had failed to timely bring its claims under relevant U.S. antitrust law that sets a four-year window and under New York state competition provisions that have a three-year statute of limitation.
“Phhhoto has failed in its 69-page amended complaint of 222 paragraphs to allege sufficient facts that cure the untimeliness of all of its federal claims,” Matsumoto wrote. She said, “no exception applies to toll the limitations periods.”
The court declined to allow Phhhoto to fine-tune its case and bring another complaint.
Lawyers for Phhhoto at plaintiffs’ firm Hausfeld did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Thursday.
In a statement, a Meta spokesperson described the suit as “meritless.”
Phhhoto launched in 2014, providing an app that said it “created a five-frame, looping video.” Meta two years earlier had acquired photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion.
Phhhoto’s lawsuit, filed in 2021, alleged Facebook aimed to “crush” the photo-sharing application, which called itself in court filings “an innovative nascent competitor.”
“Meta used its control of critical infrastructure to degrade the quality of Phhhoto’s content and the performance of its app, as well as to mislead and harm consumers,” Phhhoto’s attorneys told the court.
Facebook denied any anticompetitive conduct.
The case was among several actions accusing Facebook of violating competition law.
Facebook is defending against claims from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in Washington, D.C., federal court that the company abused its personal social networking dominance.
The case is Phhhoto Inc v Meta Platforms, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, No. 1:21-cv-06159.
For Phhhoto: Scott Martin of Hausfeld
For Meta: Aaron Panner of Kellogg Hansen Todd Figel & Frederick
(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; editing by Leigh Jones)