SAN FRANCISCO -- Oracle and Google were facing off in the second day of a high-stakes intellectual property showdown in a San Francisco federal courtroom Tuesday when Twitter made a surprise announcement: It pledged that employees who created its technology would exercise control over the patents so they could not be used as a legal battering ram against other companies.
The “Innovator’s Patent Agreement,” or IPA, would give legal rights to inventors and ensure that patents are not used to “impede the innovation of others,” the San Francisco company said in a post on its official blog.
“Typically, engineers and designers sign an agreement with their company that irrevocably gives that company any patents filed related to the employee’s work,” wrote Adam Messinger, vice president of engineering. “With the IPA, employees can be assured that their patents will be used only as a shield rather than as a weapon.”
Twitter said the agreement would apply to patents even if they are sold. Twitter does not yet have any patents but has applied for them.
Patent warfare has broken out all over Silicon Valley. Yahoo sued Facebook in March for infringing on 10 of its patents. Facebook has countersued.