Twitter calls on industry not to abuse patent system, announces Innovator's Patent Agreement

By Lee Kaelin on April 18, 2012, 11:00 AM

Twitter has taken a stand against the industry's escalating patent abuse by outlining new policies for their patents and promising to only use them for defensive purposes -- asserting infringement claims only if it is sued first. On their official blog, Adam Messinger, Twitter's vice president of Engineering detailed the new proposal, and unveiled the first draft of their Innovator's Patent Agreement.

"The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended."

Once the IPA has been implemented later in the year, the micro-blogging service promises patents will not be used in any way that could potentially harm innovation of the industry, and will only use them if it's essential for defensive purposes.

Twitter will also be backdating all previously applied for and granted patents as well as new applications that follow once the IPA has been finalized. These changes will give the engineers and designers greater control over how their patents are used, as well as providing them with protection should they ever be sold to another company in the future.

Moreover, it finally gives those that designed and engineered the patented item more say in how they are used. As part of the agreement, Twitter, or for that matter any future company that acquires them wouldn't be able to use the patents they hold in an offensive manner without the express written consent of those who created them.

There is no doubt that the IPA's implementation will be a refreshing change for an industry gaining a negative image for continuous patent disputes and it clearly defines their position in regards to potential future patent claims.

We would love to hear your thoughts on Twitter's announcement and whether you think its adoption industry-wide could potentially offer real benefits to innovation.

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