IPcopy took a quick look at the Twitter Innovator’s patent agreement recently and concluded that there was probably enough wiggle room in the agreement to allow Twitter to start legal actions against most people should they want to do so (see the earlier post here).
One thing that struck us at the time of writing the earlier article was the relative lack of Twitter patents and patent applications (we could only find three such patent documents and one of these belonged to TweetDeck).
Now comes news that Twitter has been working on another patent filing which reads much more closely onto their core business. This now granted US patent (US 8401009) can be found here. So, I hear you ask (probably), “How come you didn’t see that coming”? Good question.
A quick check of the patent register on the USPTO website (public PAIR) for the above patent shows that when Twitter made their application back on 22 July 2008 they asked for the application to not be published at the normal 18-months-from-filing point.
This option is open to applicants in the US system if they certify that the US application in question has not and will not be the subject of an application filed in another country/international agreement that requires publication at 18 months. [Question: is this still the case after AIA?]
Given Twitter’s public “for defensive purposes only” stance we can’t help but wonder why they kept this under wraps for so long?
Claim 1 of the new patent, by the way, reads as follows:
1. A method for device-independent point to multipoint communication, the method comprising: receiving from a first computing device of a first user a selection of one or more endpoints for receiving update messages; receiving, from the first computing device, a request to follow a second user; designating, by a computer processor, the first user as a follower of the second user in response to the request, wherein designating the first user comprises configuring an account of the first user to reference update messages broadcasted by the second user; receiving, from a computing device of the second user, a broadcast request to broadcast an update message in a first format, wherein the update message lacks identification of the first user as an intended recipient, and wherein the update message includes an identification of the second user as a sender of the update message; identifying, by the computer processor, a plurality of followers of the second user in response to the broadcast request, wherein the first user is among the plurality of followers; determining addressing information of each of the plurality of followers, wherein the addressing information of the first user identifies the endpoints for receiving messages; applying, for each of the plurality of followers, rules to the update message based on the addressing information; translating the update message into an appropriate format for each of the endpoints; and broadcasting the update message to each of the endpoints in the appropriate format.
Mark Richardson 21 March 2013