Feeds

Twitter sued for patent infringement

The devil is in the details

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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." ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.