Twitter Leading the Way with IPA

How often in the last month has your RSS feed been littered with the news that company x is suing company y because of patent x? Yahoo have done it, and Facebook fought back in the same way. Oracle and Google are at each other’s throats about patents. Apple and Samsung are constantly locked in a seemingly never-ending battle. And then, there comes the light at the end of the tunnel – Twitter is leading the way to give patent control back to the engineer or designer who came up with it, rather than using them as ammunition.

According to their blog:

“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.”

Not content to only implement this for future patents, this new agreement will apply to everything; past, present and future. This is a significant step forward for developers and designers, who can now rest assured that their hard work will never become the source of bitter dispute.

Or will it? TechCrunch found a patent attorny, Leonid Kravets, to shed some light on the legal mumbo jumbo going on behind the scenes. Accorcing to him, this could be little more than a PR stunt as a reaction to the ex-Yahoo employer who found his patent at the heart of the Facebook Vs Yahoo debacle. Kravets suggests that the definition of ‘defensive’ is questionable, and could be entirely open to interpretation.

Similarly, he suggests that although the employee may have control over the patent, if that employee is still working for the original company then they may be swayed or influenced by their employer.

So, it’s an almost heart-warming piece of news which makes you want to quit your job and become a developer for Twitter; but it could also just be a PR stunt to gain a little exposure of the back of the current patent disputes. Either way, kudos Twitter!

(Story found via Wavii – I think this may be my new Pinterest)