Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Twitter IPA: good start to fix a big problem

Last week Twitter announced that they will start implementing Innovator's Patent Agreement (IPA).  Core idea of IPA is a novel one.  It's Twitter's attempt at addressing broken software patent system.  Instead of seeking legislative overhaul of our current patent system, Twitter is declaring that they will use their software patents only as defensive measure, and the control of patent, if used in other than "Defensive Purpose", will remain with inventors, not with Twitter.  Twitter is encouraging other software companies to follow suit.

I like the idea.  There are way too much resources being wasted because of patent trolls suing companies just to monetize their patent portfolio.  Many of these patent trolls are not even original inventors.  They buy broadly applicable software patents from inventors or companies with sole purpose of suing others.

Patent infringement suits have real cost.  Just yesterday Facebook announced that they are buying about 650 patents that Microsoft acquired from AOL recently for $550 million in cash.  Earlier Microsoft bought hundreds of these patents at $1.06 billion from AOL.  This is a good example of how one bad actor (Yahoo suing Facebook for software infringement) can have ripple effect on how all other players in the market.

Current software patent system is broken.  The right thing is to fix the current system which creates drag for everyone in the tech industry.  Company should not be allowed to use software patent to sue others unless they have implemented a product using the patent and using software patent to protect themselves.  There are many cases that still fall outside this category (like Apple suing Samsung and other smartphone makers), but it would eliminate many obvious patent trolls.

I applaud Twitter for taking leadership role in improving software patent system.

No comments:

Post a Comment