In previous posts we have looked at both Twitter’s proposed Innovator’s Patent Agreement and the “Twitter” patent (1, 2). In the last week or so Twitter has obtained a further granted US patent (to the “pull to refresh” feature) and has released version 1.0 of their Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA).
Down below we take a look at the latest granted patent and the first version of the IPA.
Pull to Refresh Patent (US8448084)
US8448084 granted on 21 May 2013 and names Twitter Inc as the assignee.
It is noted that the pull to refresh patent does not appear to have any counterparts outside the US.
Claim 1 of the granted US patent states:
A method, comprising:
displaying a scrollable list of content items;
receiving input associated with a scroll command;
based on the scroll command, displaying a scrollable refresh trigger; and
in response to determining, based on the scroll command, that the scrollable refresh trigger has been activated, refreshing the scrollable list of items.
This claim seems broad enough to cover a wide range of pull to refresh actions (e.g. the pull to refresh action on email items in iOS). However, according to Twitter’s press statement this patent is subject to the Innovator’s Patent Agreement.
Innovator’s Patent Agreement (v1.0)
The first full version of the IPA can be found here. Broadly speaking it looks similar to the version we looked at in our first post on this subject.
The Recitals of the IPA document tend to suggest, with the reference to assignment of patent applications, that the IPA is designed for use within the US patent system. Generally speaking, under UK patent law, inventions that are made during the course of an employee’s normal duties would be taken to belong to the employer.
The IPA doesn’t seem to fit within such employee invention provisions and so would presumably require alteration for use within the UK/EU. Even then I’m not sure whether a version of the IPA could be made to work in the UK/EU. Perhaps if any of our reader’s are familiar with this area of law they could chime in down below in the comments section?
Clause 4 of the IPA has been tidied up a little. It’s interesting to note that the Inventors right to grant sub-licences appears to be linked to the Assignee breaking one of the promises in Clause 2 of the agreement. As noted in our earlier post, Clause 2 appears to leave a lot of wiggle room for the Assignee. I wonder if this “broken promises” condition will be the subject of legal wrangling in the future?
Recent press relating to the IPA suggests that some companies other than Twitter have signed up to use the IPA. Clearly, use of the IPA could have a major impact on a company’s ability to pro-actively defend its place in the market against copycat companies. As such, hopefully anyone seriously considering using this agreement will have a long chat with their patent or legal representative first!