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Patent law - Twitter accused of patent infringement

Written by Zerbakht Khan on 14 August 2009

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A patent infringement claim has been filed against the digital-messaging website, Twitter. The claim was filed by TechRadium that delivers "mass notification and emergency alerting systems to a vast array of governmental, educational, commercial and non-profit entities".

The filing was made in response to Twitter for alleged patent infringement for allowing organisations to use its site as an emergency notification system by simultaneously notifying a large audience.

The patents owned by TechRadium which are at issue are as follows: "Digital notification and responsive system", "Method for providing digital notification", and "Method for providing digital notification and receiving responses".

The company claims that some organisations are using Twitter as an emergency notification system to report things such as fires and bad weather. These oragnisations include the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Washington Department of Transportation. As a result, the company is losing business to Twitter's free service.

TechRadium claims that it has spent many years and a lot of money to develop the patented technology to report such emergencies.

The company seeks "recovery of damages for lost profits, reasonable royalties, unjust enrichment, and benefits received by the Defendant as a result of use" of the messaging technology.

However, the amount is unspecified.

One argument likely to work in Twitter's favour is that TechRadium could use the same patent to sue a number of different pre-existing messaging systems and that the patents technology is too generic to warrant a patent at all.

Personal Computers have been able to send messages simultaneously to large groups of people for a long time. It will be up to the federal district court in Houston (United States) to decide on whether Twitter's messaging system is infringing the patent.

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