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Twitter Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit 236

Digital Dan writes "Twitter is being sued for patent infringement. Surprised? OK, probably not, but you'd think the plaintiff would at least wait for Twitter to actually make money before striking. According to TechCrunch: 'Twitter is being sued ... by TechRadium, a Texas-based technology company which makes mass notification systems for public safety organizations, the military, and utilities.' The abstract to patent #7130389 describes it: 'A digital notification and response system utilizes an administrator interface to transmit a message from an administrator to a user contact device. The system comprises a dynamic information database that includes user contact data, priority information, and response data. The administrator initiates distribution of the message based upon grouping information, priority information, and the priority order.' Two other patents are involved as well."
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Twitter Faces Patent Infringement Lawsuit

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  • by NecroPuppy ( 222648 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:14PM (#28959899) Homepage

    A Texas based patent lawsuit that doesn't, at first blush, appear to be a patent troll.

    TechRadium actually has a website ( and appears to sell products.

  • pager? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:18PM (#28959951)

    Why does this patent sound like a pager to me?

  • They patented email! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jholder ( 22001 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:20PM (#28959987) Homepage Journal
    As far as I can tell, email distribution lists and automated rules for re-sending email after receiving them from an email list is also covered under the claims in this patent. How did the patent examiners fail to see this?
  • Get rid of patents (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mtthwbrnd ( 1608651 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:20PM (#28959995)
    The problem with patents is that one can sit in a dark room and dream up every conceivable thing that may plausibly be invented, patent it and then sit back and either watch the cash roll in for doing bugger all ... or the whole of human development has to wait for your patent to expire. I am sick of it. We should scrap patents completely. If you have got a secret way of doing something, then it is up to you to exploit it and keep it secret. If somebody else discovers, either independently or through espionage, what you are doing, and they can do it better, cheaper, then you are fair game. SIMPLE + NO LEGAL TEAM FEES!!! E.g. India etc.. should be flooding our markets with what at the moment would be called "stolen drug technologies", but are in fact just reverse engineered. I don't care if the big biotechs bitch that without patenting it would not be worth their while investing in R&D - they should invest in R&D to keep their stuff secret if it concerns them that much, or better still, be more efficient on the production line.
  • Re:Not again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:32PM (#28960177) Homepage Journal

    Because Twitter (1) does not use an administrator to originate a message, and (2) doesn't "deliver" a message. It posts a message, where it must then be retrieved. Push vs. pull. Big difference.

    "Administrator" could just mean anyone who has followers, not necessarily somebody whom the site design allows or encourages to have more followers than others.

  • Re:I for one... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by santax ( 1541065 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:32PM (#28960183)
    The worst part about your post is that you are right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:33PM (#28960201)

    If you have got a secret way of doing something, then it is up to you to exploit it and keep it secret.

    they should invest in R&D to keep their stuff secret if it concerns them that much, or better still, be more efficient on the production line.

    The problem with the idea that companies should just "keep their stuff secret" is that they will do exactly that. And if/when this company no longer exists, the knowledge about their new technology will be lost to history and humanity at large. That's the problem that we currently face with the DMCA and all of these DRM technologies which are quietly (or sometimes not so quietly) locking away literary and artistic works "protected" by them. So yes, the patent system is flawed, and our technological advances must suffer under the burden of these flaws (until we decide they're not worth the "benefits" they provide). But hoarding knowledge and keeping it a secret is not a better alternative.

  • by CorporateSuit ( 1319461 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:37PM (#28960269)
    It's not patent infringement if the patented device has been improved upon.
  • Fuck the USPTO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chickenarise ( 1597941 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:39PM (#28960303)
    Not only do the tax payers have to fund the USPTO and all of its horrible miserableness, but we also have to fund all the fucking terrible trials that inevitably pop up from their failings.
  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @01:55PM (#28960497)
    After every tragic event, from Katrina to the VT shootings, companies would be calling me (I was network manager at a small college) constantly wanting to sell me their product to send texts to people in case of an emergency. They charged an ungodly amount of money. Considering all the different patents and stuff these guys claim to have had, they are going to all wipe each other off the face of the earth.

    On a side note, we put a list of common Email to SMS gateways up for our students(ie, and asked them to fill in an EMAIL address, then we could truly get them anywhere that they choose, if they choose.
  • Prior Art (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hax4bux ( 209237 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @02:03PM (#28960613)

    I personally maintained a system that went into production in 1968 which had twitter like features.

    A message was limited to an 80 character TTY line.

    The first five characters were addressing information, a space and the rest free form text.

    Carriage return dispatched the message which was spooled to drum then picked up and distributed to a single entity or a group (depending upon the first five characters as I mentioned).

    So, ya. I think there is prior art.

  • Re:I for one... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @02:17PM (#28960823) Journal

    I did stuff like this when I was in New Orleans (1994 to 1999). Used an MS SQL Server database (version 4.2 OS/2 1.3), PowerBuilder app code (PB4), and a modem (to send pages through AT&T's interface at the time). The system would first page the on-call pager. If no response within the prescribed time, it would escalate to the back-up pager. If no response, it would page the manager. I doubt that stuff is even in use any more. Sounds like some prior art.....too bad I don't have access to any of the code.

  • Re:Fuck the USPTO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chickenarise ( 1597941 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @03:12PM (#28961557)
    You are correct sir! From an old news article about the USPTO budget []

    Although the USPTO is projected to earn $1.346 billion in revenue, President Bush's budget mandates a spending cap of only $1.139 billion for 2002. The remaining $207 million dollars in revenue will once again, as in previous years, be stripped from the USPTO and the Intellectual Property community.


    The USPTO is 100% fee-funded, meaning that all operating funds are the direct result of application and maintenance fees paid by patent and trademark owners and applicants. Unlike the vast majority of other government agencies, the USPTO's operating expenses pose no tax burden to the general citizenry.

    I guess all I get to be pissed about are "all the fucking terrible trials that inevitably pop up from their failings."

  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Wednesday August 05, 2009 @03:47PM (#28961999) Homepage

    Now, to interpret the meaning of the claims, it is necessary to read the specification, to see if the terms used have special definitions. Studying the exemplary embodiments described in the specification may also be informative (or not, depending)

    Yup. What amazes me is how few geeks seem to know this stuff. Patents (and copyright, and even trademark) have a big impact on software. You'd think every programmer would learn the basics of these subjects, as part of being a competent professional.

  • Damn! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by celtic_hackr ( 579828 ) on Thursday August 06, 2009 @12:13AM (#28967657) Journal
    This means I can no longer email my employees and contractors about work from my administrative account and have to erase my administrative address book. I also have to return all the company pagers!. Well returning the pagers might actually save me some bucks.

    Wow! How did this ever get approved as a patent? Talk about obviousness.

    I have prior art for this, but unfortunately, I wrote it and it's never been published. This was a work for hire. I wrote a mainframe program that used a central database to send out emails and pages to various people. Some people only got emails some got pages and emails. The program included a severity code to determine if only an email was sent or if a page was also required. I wrote this before 1997. I may still have all the pieces, but it requires: a Unisys mainframe, A Unisys print manager, a PC with ProComm installed, a mail server, a phone line, and pagers/cell phones..

The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin