Twitter has drafted up what they’re calling the Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA). With it, the company is promising to only use their patents as the actual inventor intended — read: defensively, not offensively.
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. We will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.
Excellent news. Twitter is promising to implement the IPA later this year and says that it will apply to all their patents past and present. Yes, this means things like Loren Brichter’s pull-to-refresh (which he’s excited about).
Hopefully other startups large and small will follow Twitter’s lead here. It would be really excellent if larger companies (*cough* Yahoo *cough*) did as well, but it’s hard to see that happening given the current state of things. This is a movement that will have to start from the ground up.
Big time kudos to Twitter for this.