Twitter succeeds in securing broad patent for message distribution platform

20 Mar 2013

It’s official, Twitter is now a patented product and co-founders Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone are its named inventors. Despite the far-reaching terms of the patent, which was originally filed in July 2007, Twitter has vowed not to abuse its rights as a patent-holder.

The patent was officially issued yesterday by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a device-independent message distribution platform.

More specifically, the official document describes a system for point-to-multipoint communication where messages sent via SMS, instant messaging, email, web form input or API function call can be seen by many users. This, of course, describes Twitter, but the broad description could also describe a number of other broadcast messaging services.

However, having implemented an Innovator’s Patent Agreement in 2012, Twitter has vowed not to use patents earned through its employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. This is intended to stamp out patent-based litigation that is believed to stifle creativity, so it’s unlikely that the social media giant will begin suing the pants off of every imitator out there.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.