Is Twitter's Patent Strategy To Not Get Any Patents?
from the good-for-them dept
We’ve noted in the past that Twitter is unique among many companies in its trademark strategy. Rather than threatening everyone and sending cease-and-desist letters all of the time, it has a very open (and free) licensing program, which has contributed to the rather large ecosystem built up around Twitter. The company will step in when dealing with clearly egregious attempts to use the trademark in a misleading or confusing way, but for the most part has been incredibly lenient.
So what about the company’s patent strategy. The company has been sued for patent infringement, but you must figure that it’s collecting patents of its own, right? After all, even companies that are against software patents usually get them for defensive purposes, and there are plenty of things that Twitter has done that I’m sure the USPTO would approve. And, yet, Erik Sherman keeps checking the USPTO filings and can’t seem to find any patents filed by Twitter.
Sherman notes that one of Twitter’s major investors, Union Square Ventures, has been pretty outspoken about the harm that patents have done to start-ups (and how little benefit any of their start-ups have gotten from patents). However, when he asked Fred Wilson, from USV, about Twitter’s patent strategy, Wilson told him he didn’t know anything about it.
Of course, we’ve been told by some patent system supporters that if you’re not getting patents, you’re not actually inventing and that there’s no incentive to invent without patents. So, do we assume that Twitter is doing nothing special at all… or that, perhaps, there are other incentives and other ways to compete rather than relying on patents?