Feeds

Twitter sued for patent infringement

The devil is in the details

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Megapopular microblogger Twitter is being sued for patent infringment by a Texas company that alleges the 140-character messaging system is based on its patented digital-notification technology.

The suit was filed TechRadium, a Sugar Land, Texas-based company that, according to its website, "delivers the world's leading edge mass notification and emergency alerting systems to a vast array of governmental, educational, commercial and non-profit entities."

At issue is the "mass notification" part of that self-description. According to court documents submitted to the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, TechRadium holds three patents on the technology behind its IRIS (immediate response information system) for which it claims infringement.

The IRIS system makes it possible for a group administrator to issue a single message that will be delivered to multiple subscribers "simultaneously via multiple communication gateways," according to the suit.

Sounds like Twitter, alright. But it also sounds like any number of different messaging systems. The devil, as is always the case, is in the details.

TechRadium's lawyer, W. Shawn Staples of the Houston, Texas, Mostyn Law Firm contends that the details are on the Texas firm's side, telling the IDG News Service that "The problem is the Twitter architecture. The way they have it set up is technology that is squarely within TechRadium's patents."

And Twitter's alleged infringment, according to Staples, puts TechRadium's business at risk. "There have been recently some municipalities and other organisations who have claimed they'll use Twitter for emergency notification systems," Staples said, "and that's technology that TechRadium has spent many years and a lot of money developing."

Exactly which specifics of its technology that TechRadium claims are being infringed upon are not detailed in the brief, eight-page court filing. However, the three patents cited are entitled "Digital notification and response system ," "Method for providing digital notification," and "Method for providing digital notification and receiving responses."

Each of the patents - especially the latter two - go into great detail describing the architecture of the IRIS system. It will be up to the court to match the architecture they describe with that of Twitter's to determine if the similarities constitute infringement.

If the court rules in TechRadium's favor, it's unclear what the damages might be. The filing doesn't mention a dollar amount, only that it seeks "recovery of damages for lost profits, reasonable royalties, unjust enrichment, and benefits received by the Defendant as a result of use the misappropriated technology."

In addition, TechRadium also seeks "exemplary damages" due to Twitter's "gross negligence, malice, or actual fraud," and because "Defendant’s conduct was committed intentionally, knowingly, and with callous disregard of Plaintiff’s legitimate rights."

It's not that Twitter didn't see this coming. In mid-July, a hacker exposed a wealth of corporate and personal documents - one of which, as Wired points out, was stamped "Legal" and included the prophetic words: "We will be sued for patent infringement, repeatedly and often." ®

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.