A patent promise from Twitter

Marc Sanchez Apr 18, 2012

Looks like the honchos at Twitter are getting as fed up with the Patent Wars as us non-billionaires. Adam Messinger, Twitter’s VP of engineering, posted a message to engineers at the company explaining that it is more interested in innovation than suing the pants off another company. Messinger says the company will adopt the Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA).

From the blog:

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.

Twitter is reaching out to other companies to see if there’s any love for an IPA to become tech industry de rigueur. This is potentially great news, since we know there are plenty of eggheads in Silicon Valley and beyond that are building on previous technologies, but these ideas rarely come to the surface for fear of being sued.

Loren Brichter is one happy engineer. He’s the guy who invented Tweetie, the Twitter mobile app, and the function that lets you “pull to refresh” your feed. That little feature is something that Twitter owns through Brichter’s patent and something that seems like a no-brainer to include on other apps. Maybe now it can.

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