Twitter, along with other companies in the Silicon Valley, is a bit scared about the patents the company holds and other patents that the engineers in the company hold. This is a result of the patent war that has been happening between the two major companies in the world, Samsung and Apple. What is the solution? Integrate the Innovator’s Agreement into the working of your organisation, and that is exactly what Twitter has done.
Under the terms of the agreement, Twitter will promise to only use the patents for defensive purposes — asserting infringement claims only if it is sued first:
“With the IPA, employees can be assured that their patents will be used only as a shield rather than as a weapon.”
How does it work?
The Innovator’s Agreement itself works like this. When the engineer assigns a patent to Twitter, the company agrees to let the engineer keep the power to license the patents in order to uphold the promise.
This retained power lets the engineer grant a sub-license to anyone who has been sued in an offensive patent suit by Twitter. That sub-license would then act as shield against Twitter.
The theory is a fine one but it’s unclear how well it would work in the wild. If Twitter really wanted to use the patent, for instance, it could simply pay the engineer to waive the Agreement (most people would probably compromise their patent principles for $10,000).
It’s also unclear if a court would enforce Innovator’s Patent Agreement. For a contract to be valid, each side has to make a promise or what the law calls “consideration” — one-way contracts usually don’t cut it. And, in this case, it’s hard to see what Twitter is getting in return.
The effect of this move from Twitter may have several outcomes. This may just become symbolic than becoming a legal force. Or it may encourage more engineers to join the force and face the patent wars, or abolish it completely. We just have to wait and watch what happens.
Category: Tech News