You may remember that right before Facebook was set to go public, Yahoo decided to threaten
and then sue
Facebook over some patents -- in a move that was widely mocked, especially among engineers and technologists in Silicon Valley about just how far Yahoo had sunk. Yahoo's been struggling to regain any sense of being a place where actual innovators want to work ever since. It would appear that the folks at IBM didn't get the message. They apparently waited until the eve of Twitter's IPO to try the same strategy: threatening to sue Twitter for patent infringement
over three very broad patents that never should have been granted in the first place.
- 6,957,224: Efficient retrieval of uniform resource locators
- 7,072,849: Method for presenting advertising in an interactive service
- 7,099,862: Programmatic discovery of common contacts
In recent years, IBM has, at times, pretended to support real patent reform, but its actions speak louder than words. It's been acting very much like a patent troll, making efforts to block real patent reform, while using its patents as weapons against companies much more innovative than IBM. It truly is living up to the old adage about how young companies innovate, while old companies litigate. Sad legacy it's leaving.
Meanwhile, the company they're targeting, Twitter, not only has built a service that so many people find useful (when has IBM done that?), but also has made it clear that it won't be able
to do what IBM is now doing, by giving anyone who gets a patent while employed by Twitter the ability to block the patent from being used as a weapon against others -- something that actually has helped
attract numerous engineers to Twitter, since they want to work for innovative companies which actually innovate in technology, rather than abuse the legal system to shake down others.