Twitter has done it, it has succeeded in patenting itself. The USPTO has issued the patent to Twitter co-founders Jack Dorsey and Christopher “Biz” Stone. Originally filed on July 2007, the patent broadly describes a messaging system where users can follow each other and send messages without a unique recipient. Twitter also has a pending patent for the “pull-to-refresh” gesture, but it won’t be using it for nefarious purposes.
Last year, Twitter had announced its Innovators Patent Agreement, which was a contract between the company and its employees stating that any of their work related patents will be used for defensive purposes only. This means that the social network won’t be going around slapping infringing lawsuits on other companies because it believes that “software patents should only be used to make a positive impact in the world.” Twitter may not be on the offensive currently, but competing companies should evaluate their products against the board claims in Twitter’s patent just to be safe. For example, third-party developers may have thought they were safe developing Twitter apps, but that all changed when Twitter limited the amount of users or “tokens” a third-party app could have, effectively shutting down most of them. It will all hinge on how the blue bird will choose to proceed and how its competitors will react to this.