Twitter recently announced an internal patent agreement in an effort to inspire and support designers and engineers. The Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA) is a commitment from the company to its employees that patents will solely be used for defensive purposes. Any offensive litigation using an employee’s invention will not be pursued without that employee’s permission.
“Defensive Purpose,” however, seems to be loosely defined, as any company having instituted or threatened litigation against Twitter in the past ten years is fair game to be sued.
The act is stated to follow patents even after a sale, and gives designers and engineers full power long after they leave Twitter. The company hopes that this act will serve as the beginning of a movement to put a stop to the tech world’s growing arsenal of patent infringement lawsuits.
Already having gained the support of Foursquare’s engineering lead Harry Heymann and Facebook, a draft of the agreement was posted to the online open-source archive GitHub in an attempt to further spread the news. Twitter continues to reach out to other companies to discuss its latest move and inspire others to make a similar change.
Some have already expressed interest in adopting a similar method. The British startup Multizone responded to Twitter’s action with this tweet:
@nuxnix: @adam_messinger the IPA is a great innovation. We will adopt it @multizone as we have been struggling with exactly this issue. Thank you
With all of the back and forth between big tech companies going on in recent years, the act is an important step away from “patent trolling.”