Feeds

Twitter sued for patent infringement

The devil is in the details

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

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." ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
OECD lashes out at tax avoiding globocorps' location-flipping antics
You hear that, Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al?
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.