A U.S. lawsuit could determine not only who gets to keep Twitter followers when an employee leaves a company but also the value of individual Twitter followers.

PhoneDog filed a lawsuit earlier this year against former employee Noah Kravitz. The lawsuit said Kravitz failed to turn over access to the Twitter account and its 17,000 followers he created while employed by the company. Kravitz, who now writes for TechnoBuffalo, simply changed the handle from  @phonedog_noah to @noahkravitz and continued to send messages to the account’s followers.

Last week, U.S. Chief Magistrate Judge Maria-Elena James in San Francisco denied Kravitz’s motion for dismissal.

PhoneDog is seeking $340,000 in damages, a value it reached by multiplying the number of followers at the time of separation at $2.50 for each of the eight months Kravitz has continued to use the account.

Kravitz hasn’t said much about the lawsuit on Twitter, although he did note in a post that his farewell column for PhoneDog encouraged users to continue to follow him at @noahkravitz. Some users also traded jokes about the lawsuit with the writer.

@noahkravitz If I RT something from you, can I get half of the $2.50? :),” Travis Murdock tweeted on Friday.

“There's much more to the story is all I can say right now,” Kravitz tweeted as news of the lawsuit spread last week.

Such lawsuits are becoming more common. The New York Times has filed a lawsuit against a former blogger who took her “MommyLode” blog and renamed it “ParentLode” on the Huffington Post. The BBC has been in a similar dispute with a former reporter who took 60,000 Twitter followers when she left to work at a competitor.

Photo by Rosaura Ochoa