August 8, 2009
Twitter isn’t having a good week. As well as suffering a mighty DDoS attack, it looks like they’re being sued for patent infringement.
TechRadium, a Texas-based technology company which makes mass notification systems for public safety organizations and the military, is suing Twitter for patent infringement. The scary part is that TechRadium may very well have an excellent case. The safety company has three patents relating to the delivery of mass notification:
1) Patent 7,130,389, applied for in 2005 and granted in 2006, consisting of a digital notification and response system.
2) Patent 7,496,183, applied for in 2007 and granted in 2009 – a method to provide digital notification; and
3) Patent 7,519,165, applied for in 2007 and granted in 2009 – a method for providing digital notification and receiving responses.
Clearly, TechRadium find the Twitter service to be too similar to their patented methods. Here’s an extract from the actual lawsuit, filed in Texas on August 4:
“On information and belief, Defendant, Twitter, makes, uses, sells, or otherwise provides throughout United States and within the geographical area covered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas the systems and methods described by the claims in the ‘389, ‘183 and ‘165 Patents.”
TechRadium are deadly serious about this. They’re seeking a permanent injunction against Twitter for the use of their patented technology.
But this shouldn’t come as a surprise to Twitter. According to TechCrunch, Twitter executives were well aware of their vulnerable position in relation to potential patent lawsuits. In a meeting in February this year, staff discussed the likelihood of being sued for patent violation, recording in the meeting minutes:
“We will be sued for patent infringement, repeatedly and often. Should we get a great patent attorney to proactively go after these patents?”
So with one of the related patents issued as early as 2006, why have TechRadium waited so long to take legal action? One of the deciding factors have been market erosion. With the ever-increasing popularity of Twitter, it seems that TechRadium’s paying customers are choosing to use the social media service in lieu of TechRadium’s paid offering, since both services offer basically the same thing.
TechRadium is losing business and they’ve decided the time is right to defend their patents. Also, it looks as though the crucial Patent ‘165 was only granted to TechRadium in April, so they may have waited until they had all their legal ducks in a row before filing against the cashed-up Twitter.
We’ll keep you up to date with developments as the case continues.