Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
SmartNews has shown it can drive traffic. Can it drive subscriptions too?
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
May 21, 2013, 2:08 p.m.
LINK: www.theverge.com  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   May 21, 2013

Twitter officially patented its “pull-to-refresh” technology for streaming on its mobile app today, The Verge reports. But Twitter also has an original, internal approach to patent applications.

All Twitter’s patents include a contract in which the company agrees to engage in patent litigation only if they are sued first. The contract is meant to deal with the concerns of the engineers whose work is being patented, and who feel the definition of defensive litigation can be fuzzy.

“[Engineers] were going around saying we’re worried about what patents mean,” said Twitter IP attorney Ben Lee, who drafted the IPA and guided it through the revision process. “The IPA is an expression of the values of the company.”

Lee’s work on the IPA began during his initial job interview with Twitter general counsel Alex Macgillivray in November of 2010. “The notion of trying to come up with new ways of handling patents was a major reason for me coming to Twitter in the first place,” he said. “I don’t think it was that long after that we were already having significant conversations with the engineers and senior management about some things we could do.”

Unfortunately, work on the IPA was put on hold not long after Lee joined Twitter — a patent troll had sued the company over a junk patent on “virtual communities,” and Lee spent serious time living in a Virginia hotel room as the case went to trial. “We’ve seen the negative impact” of patent abuse, he says. “And we’re a young company.”

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 50,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
SmartNews has shown it can drive traffic. Can it drive subscriptions too?
“If the publisher ecosystem is healthy, then SmartNews is healthy. That’s going to be an important thrust going forward.”
“It’s just become daily news”: Six Florida newsrooms are teaming up to cover climate change
“It’s not a science story for us here in South Florida. It’s not some kind of theoretical exploration. It’s real. It’s what many in our community experience in their neighborhoods.”
Could technology built for advertising make public radio less top-down and more bottom-up?
Plus: A British podcast company finds surprising success stateside, the Supreme Court provides a S02E14 for In the Dark, and a documentary about Freaknik.