Bloomberg News

Twitter Unveils Patent Accord to Give Engineers Control

April 17, 2012

Twitter Inc., the microblogging service, published a draft of an “Innovator’s Patent Agreement,” an effort to ensure that engineers and designers can maintain control over their own intellectual property.

The IPA is a commitment to Twitter employees that patents can’t be used in “offensive litigation” without the permission of the workers behind the inventions, said Adam Messinger, vice president of engineering, on a company blog today. If the patents are sold, they could only be used as the inventor intended, San Francisco-based Twitter said.

Twitter’s proposed agreement comes as some of the biggest technology companies, including Google Inc. (GOOG:US), Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) and Yahoo! Inc., face off in courts worldwide over patents covering mobile, social networking and advertising. Twitter has started to reach out to other companies to discuss the agreement, which is meant to shift power over patented innovations from companies to employees.

“Typically, engineers and designers sign an agreement with their company that irrevocably gives that company any patents filed related to the employee’s work,” Messinger wrote. “With the IPA, employees can be assured that their patents will be used only as a shield rather than as a weapon.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at

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