Twitter poses patent non-aggression treaty to unblock industry
No first-use patent pledge to stem legal madness
Twitter is trying a new tactic to slow or stop the increasing use of legal action over patents as a tactic in the technology industry.
It has proposed an Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA), which states that its patents will only be used in legal cases as a defensive tactic, unless the employee who created the patent agrees otherwise, even if the patent has since been passed on to a new owner. The first draft of the IPA has been uploaded to Github and Twitter is looking for comments from the community.
"We will implement the IPA later this year, and it will apply to all patents issued to our engineers, both past and present," said Adam Messinger, Twitter's VP of engineering in a blog post. "We are still in early stages, and have just started to reach out to other companies to discuss the IPA and whether it might make sense for them too."
Typically employers would have clauses in their staff's contracts that hand over control of the patents they develop on company time Messinger said. These can be used in legal action or sold on to third-parties. But with the IPA Twitter has said it wants to put control of patents back into the hands of people who dreamed them up and, hopefully, cut down on the amount of patent trolling going on.
The announcement was welcomed by internet campaigners at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is also exploring ways of reforming the current system of patents. It said that the proposal had merit, but said that an overhaul of the entire patent system would be a better solution, but it will take what it can get.
"Twitter’s IPA gives companies and inventors the means to take control of their own fate by ensuring that their patents will not end up in the hands of a troll," the EFF said in a statement. "We hope that other companies will follow Twitter’s example, and find creative ways to engage with the patent system." ®
Still better than the current arrangement
This is a much better option than the current arrangement but ideally the whole patent reigeem is horribly out of date, it was written for a time when men were real men and rode penny farthings and had handlebar moustahes and always had a bully day.
Patent protection does need to exist but only in the context of protecting current products. A patent should become invalid when the inventor is no longer producing a physical product based on it. Biological or software patents shouldn't exist and if you are a company that just holds patents then you are unable to use them because you don't produce anything they are covering.
Re: Still better than the current arrangement
Nicely put. I agree with it all.
In the mean-time, Twitter's idea is at least an attempt to get some sense into things, so +1 to them.
Maybe a little too naive and idealistic. The only way to stop patent is to dismantle the patent system, or at least, limit it's scope so it does not apply to software. This is already the case in the UK where software can only be patented essentially in conjunction with a hardware invention.
Thank god the UK is at least sane and sober on this issue.