One of the great things about Twitter is working with so many talented folks who dream up and build incredible products day in and day out. Like many companies, we apply for patents on a bunch of these inventions. However, we also think a lot about how those patents may be used in the future; we sometimes worry that they may be used to impede the innovation of others. For that reason, we are publishing a draft of the Innovator's Patent Agreement, which we informally call the "IPA".
The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes. We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What's more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.
The IPA will be implemented at Twitter later this year, and it will apply to all patents issued to our engineers, both past and present.
iOS developers recently became concerned when Twitter filed a patent on the pull-to-refresh functionality first used by Tweetie developer Loren Brichter. Commenting on the patent Brichter said, "I can't talk about the specifics but Twitter owns the patent, but I don't think people have anything to worry about."
Under the IPA, Twitter would not be able to use the patent offensively unless Brichter agreed.
Read More [via Alexander]