back to article Twitter sued for patent infringement

Megapopular microblogger Twitter is being sued for patent infringment by a Texas company that alleges the 140-character messaging system is based on its patented digital-notification technology. The suit was filed TechRadium, a Sugar Land, Texas-based company that, according to its website, "delivers the world's leading edge …


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  1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge


    Seems like our smalltime Europe-based company has had prior art on this since around at least 2002. Guess the big animals will have even more prior art on this. We may still have the source on this in subversion. Should I give Twitter a call?

  2. Slacker

    I think I've seen devil before...

    At this point, there needs to be a 'lawsuit that will never go anywhere' filter on the RSS feed. There must be a billion broad, generic copyrighted concepts out there, and a lawsuit to match for each one of them.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    140 Character emergancy system

    "Official Warning. A hurricane of 140MPH has been detected by the met office radar systems. Areas prone to impact will be in the region of: (character limit reached)"

    That would be fun lol

  4. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse
    Thumb Up

    I'll be getting paid then...

    As I own the patents for:

    "a thing that does things" and...

    " a system that does things".

    I'm already prepping for retirement.

  5. Peter H. Coffin

    Twitter for Emergency Response?

    Maybe if they can schedule emergencies around the multiple-times-weekly fail-whale periods, DoS attempts, and other joys. I wouldn't recommend Twitter for anything more vital than which pub one's heading for, and would expect IRIS to be MUCH MORE RELIABLE, commensuate with the money paid for the service.

  6. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Tech Who?

    How can theethinky be a big player when they are unknown unlike Twitter?

    Methinks a patent troll.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    I claim prior art

    Can't say I am aTwit(terrer), nor do I have much love or respect for them, but some people over here in the UK have been doing this sort of thing since (at least) 1990.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    What Twit Would Use Twitter for an EBS?

    These folks must really be missing those customers, because the customers must be drooling idiots, prone to being talked into anything.

    They'd be better off with bonfires on hilltops.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Good. Nail 'em.

    I am so sick of hearing about twitter. Never used it, never will. I hate blogging in general and this is worse. I hope they get the ass sued off them. I really wish they'd just fuck off and die and we can get back to using the internet for sensible things, not hearing about who's shagging who or whatever.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Twitter for Emergency Response?

    What are you doing?

    I'm having a heart attack. Total bummer. Just no time for it.

  11. Dillon Pyron

    RE: Tech Who?

    "patent troll"? Nah, just a bunch of twats who should have been twits. (note: American use of twat, not British)

    I took a look at one of these patents. I know I'll never be on the jury ("Sir, what's your degree in?" "I have a BS in computer science." "Sir, do you hold any patents?" "Yes sir, two.") But I can think of some folks who might be on the jury. They'll all be sleeping before half of the "evidence" has been presented.

    I've tried looking up the company. They don't seem to have a stellar record in the way of clients.

    Hey Reg, I've been asking for it, where's "the finger"? This article deserves one.

  12. Troy Starkey
    Thumb Down

    Typical bullshit.

    Yay, more shit on software patents, and worse though! Over 140char message delivery.....OMG who really gives a toss?! IRIS = Retarded imo.

  13. The Mighty Spang

    will be thrown out

    i mean their system is designed to be useful. twitter is for idiots with fuck all to do for hours every day to waste time .

    why is it even still alive? how on earth could it make money?

  14. Colin Wilson

    Lets see...

    You can update what is essentially a web page (twitter), which people can visit.

    This somehow breaches someone elses "emergency notification" patent since it can be delivered to someone else automatically ?!?

    How about server notices being broadcast to users across a network ?

    In the olde worlde days of BBS systems you could chat "live" to a user using a messaging system, which is in essence prior art for this patent - one user entered a message, and it was delivered to a third party via an interface.

    If this "wins" in court, then no damages should be paid until all senders of spam on instant messenger services are done first.

  15. James O'Brien

    Solution found

    Just change the limit to something other then 140 character limit. I patent this at this time. You heard it here first.

  16. Big-nosed Pengie

    @Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    "As I own the patents for:

    "a thing that does things" and...

    " a system that does things"."

    You are so sued. I have patents for:

    * Things

    * Stuff

  17. Steven Jones

    Mostly Junk

    There appears to be nothing obviously novel about any of the patent applications, having had a quick scan, and they are full of innacurate and erroneous claims. For instance, they claim there are no messaging and alerting system which allows the recipient to define the method of receiving it - that's clearly bonkers. In our own company, we have got many ways of sending out notifications and alerts, and have had for many years. We probably still have pager gateways soemwhere. Then there are bits about the use of a database to allow for the definition of individuals, contact methods, groups. All of this is standard stuff.

    Reading this stuff fills me with despair - largely because if such generic concepts listed in those patent applications are consider novel by the legal system then we are all doomed. The US softwae patent system is truly designed to be a major revenue generator for lawyers, and as the law was no doubt drafted by lawyers, perhaps that should be no suprise.

    It's also fairly clear that the purpose of the patent system has been forgotten. The reason it was invented was to give a short term monopoly so that inventors and developers could recover and profit from large investments in research and development. The problem was, without such a system, nobody would invest in such things as a competitor would just copy the idea. So it was meant as a means of encouraging investment. Now we have a system where some companies just throw hundred of speculative ideas into the patent system, often without any credible plan to produce anything, just on the basis that they could get really lucky in the future an win royalties from a few f these.

  18. Andus McCoatover
    Paris Hilton

    @AC 19:22

    <<really wish they'd just fuck off and die and we can get back to using the internet for sensible things, not hearing about who's shagging who or whatever.>>

    But *watching* them shag is much more fun. I DO like these left-handed websites§!

    (You walked into that one, mate!)

    Paris, natch.


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, been there,done that

    when the company I work for stopped using pagers to contact groups of people (a techonology older than Texas, let alone wannabe patent holders), I wrote a bulk SMS notification system which years later is still going strong.

    I claim prior art and demand the yanks and twitter give me all their money.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Prior art exists

    Forums have long been a mechanism where one person posts one instance of a message to a forum and people subscribe to those threads and choose to have the posts delivered to them in whichever way they want, including e-mail of individual posts.

    The devil will be in the detail but this patent looks like it might be on shaky ground.

  21. Daniel Harris 1


    Could somebody please explain to me why Twitter could be sued for patent infringement here? It makes no sense, if it was this easy wouldn't people just patent the idea of the facebook wall or some other stupid social networking feature then sue anybody who tries to do the same?

  22. Cyberspy

    How was this patented?

    I thought thought patents were supposed to be 'non-obvious' to an expert in the field.

    Sending short messages to people to warn them about something - this is not 'non-obvious'.

    Surely an SMS to more than one person also infringes this patent. Pagers have also been used, for example in hospitals, like this (albeit with shorter messages) for years.

    This is the problem with the patent system, especially the US one, and its software patents. Describe something vague, and wait until somebody else has a similar idea, then sue them for copying your idea. It really is crap. Its practically impossible to invent any sort of complex system these days, without infringing on someone's patent. If you come up with an idea, by yourself, then you should be allowed to use it, regardless of who else has thought of it before.

  23. Ian Ferguson

    Oh, Texas lawyers

    You cr-aaaazzzey bunch!

  24. Jon Double Nice

    Wouldn't 'group send' on a text message

    Sort of cover this too? Maybe they could sue Nokia, and maybe Apple now the iphone can do it.

  25. Steven Jones


    "Why was this patented?"

    I guess you mean why was the patent granted, and that's a good question. Well the answer is quite simple - just because a patent is granted, doesn't mean it is actually valid. These days the patent offices don't do much more than register that the patent exists and maintain the library. Apart from a few obvious checks that you aren't trying to patent fire or a perpetual motion machine, then there is no guarantee at all that the proposal is novel, might conceivably work, doesn't infringe another patent or invalidated by prior art. In the US patents are effectively granted by default unless anybody can be bothered to go through the incredibly lengthy exercise of proving that it either doesn't qualify, or infringes on another patent. It's all left for lawyers to argue over, and if necessary, get settled in court.

    Perhaps, like Einstein did when he worked in a patent office, all the staff are working on revolutionary theories in physics (although I rather doubt it).

  26. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    @Steven Jones

    "It's also fairly clear that the purpose of the patent system has been forgotten. The reason it was invented was to give a short term monopoly so that inventors and developers could recover and profit from large investments in research and development."

    Er, no. It was originally created to have disclosure of 'secrets' in return for short-term monopoly so that long term progress could be made.

    Of course, it quickly was subverted by commercial pressures even in the 15th century with non-novel 'inventions' being granted.

    The only valid argument now is to allow return on large investment for developing new products, but the practical result is often piss-poor changes being awarded to extend lucrative product types, and complex systems being a legal nightmare to the the shere number and vaugness of patent awards (with no sensible cost pie-slice rule to stop trolls abusing trivial stuff).

    Pirate icon because most patents are no better morally than 'IP theft'

  27. Cyberspy

    @Steven Jones

    "In the US patents are effectively granted by default"

    This is what I suspected. So, instead of helping inventors making a fair profit from their original idea and so effectively stimulating invention, they just serve to make lawyers and patent trolls a quick buck, and hinder innovation.

  28. Simon 6

    I own you all

    "As I own the patents for:

    "a thing that does things" and...

    " a system that does things"."

    You are so sued. I have patents for:

    * Things

    * Stuff

    Sorry but you're also sued! I own patent for:


  29. Ben 54

    Patents and laws

    Its my firm believe the idea of a patent was invented to fatted some more laywers wallets. Seriously, the way its going now its seriously taking the piss. People invent NON-WORKING things on a back of a napkin (time machines and what have you), and patent this.

    Next thing you'll know some legal eagle is going to patent speech and start taxing us having a chat over a beer or something stupid like this. Dont even get me started on the notion that you can patent mathematical formulas. What the hell????

    Point is that people abuse this system for personal gain. They invent some thing which probably already exist on a napkin n the pub (think compression of images and sound as an example), and then wait for a bigshot to implement it and sue them.

    Mass messaging - uhm, all the text spam in Asia and the UK should fall under that category. And im sure it was there for much longer than this shoddy claim.

    Just to clarify, i dont do twitter or facebook or any of that blogs. I just think this patent thing is out of hand.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    @Simon 6

    Don't spend your money yet. I have the patent on the original thing from which everything was derived.

  31. Steven Jones

    @Paul Crawford

    You only have the intermediate step and one quoted by Wikipedia. Virtually all products can be readily reverse engineered. It's certainly true that it is a requirement of the patent system that it is published (how would you know what you might be infringing on if you didn't know the content of the technical details in the patent or, indeed, what on earth was being patented). The purpose of the legislation was to encourage enterprise and invention. Publishing the details is a necessary, and welcome, side effect but it isn't the main purpose.

    If the publishing of technical research was the main aim then it might extend further - for instance, just how much wasted effort would be saved if those seeking patents were required to publish the full details of the relevant research (which they are most certainly not required to do). This is not just a theoretical issue - drug companies waste a lot of money on fruitless research carried out by others (read Ben Goldacre on the subject). I happen to think he's probably wrong, but the requirement to publish technical details on patents is a very narrow one and inescapable.

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