Twitter Receives Patent For Twitter
Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone were issued a US patent this week for a “device independent message distribution platform”- also known as Twitter. And though patent warfare, or “trolling,” has become standard business for some companies, Twitter swears they will use their legal claims only for “defensive” purposes.
Fellow co-founder Ev Williams was not included on the patent.
Tiwtter’s promise not to overuse the patent is good news, because the language seems kind of broad. TheNextWeb posted a more-readable version:
A system (and method) for device-independent point to multipoint communication is disclosed. The system is configured to receive a message addressed to one or more destination users, the message type being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web form input, or Application Program Interface (API) function call.
The patent also describes a system that has knowledge about the recipient of the message and their devices, and translates the message accordingly.
I’m far from an expert on this, but it seems like this could apply to anything from a Facebook message to an email sent to multiple people.
But Twitter supposedly doesn’t want to abuse their rights. Almost a year ago, the company unveiled their Innovators Patent Agreement, giving final control to the engineers and designers who invented them. Though Twitter owns the patents (and can sell them to others), the company says they will never use the patent in litigation without the inventor’s permission, and will maintain that right even if the patent is sold.
Patents and patent lawsuits became a Wild West environment due to several factors, including the Congressional defunding of the US Patent Office, which then started granting many patents so they could charge large fees; and the massive amounts of technology going into so many devices in our lives. Samsung and Apple are carrying on notorious (some say superfluous) court battles in multiple countries. And some companies (non-practicing entities) exist only to buy patents and sue other companies for infringement.