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PeopleBrowsr gains small court victory against Twitter

After a judge rules against Twitter and decides to keep the lawsuit in state court, the social media analytics company is able to carry on with its service.

The social media analytics company PeopleBrowsr won a victory against Twitter in court today.

Federal District Court Judge Edward Chen ruled that the case was to remain in San Francisco Superior Court. While this doesn't seem like a big deal, it is actually quite significant because it means that PeopleBrowsr's service won't be shuttered during litigation.

The lawsuit between the two companies is complicated, but it basically boils down to Twitter restricting access to its tweets and data -- which PeopleBrowsr needs for its service.

According to PeopleBrowsr, it paid Twitter $1 million a year for the past four years for access to its firehose of data. However, in 2011 PeopleBrowsr claims Twitter said it intended to restrict firehose access to "a limited number of 'Twitter-driven' partnerships that it can closely control."

After much back-and-forth, PeopleBrowsr filed a restraining order and sued Twitter claiming anticompetitive action in San Francisco Superior Court in November. A statement from Twitter at the time said the lawsuit was "without merit" and indicated that the company planned to "vigorously defend against it."

Twitter claimed that the case was a matter for federal court and worked to get the suit removed from San Francisco Superior Court. If the case had switched courts, PeopleBrowsr's restraining order could have been deemed moot -- since it was filed in state court. And with the restraining order invalidated, Twitter would no longer be forced to give PeopleBrowsr access to its firehose. However, that didn't happen.

"PeopleBrowsr's unfair acts claim is not necessarily federal in character. Twitter has failed to establish the artful pleading doctrine, rather than the well-pleaded complaint rule, applies to this case," the court order filed today said. "The Court GRANTS Peoplebrowsr's motion to remand and remands this case to state court. The Court also GRANTS PeopleBrowsr's request for reasonable costs and expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of Twitter's removal of this case."

CNET contacted Twitter for comment. We'll update the story when we get more information.