IBM, which once dominated the technology development space in the 1970s and 80s, now seems to be lagging behind as more of a technology services company. Despite having lost out on its once major market share, it still is the strongest and smartest technology giant. It has reinforced its numero uno position with its recent infringement claims against Twitter and has invited the global social networker to negotiate a business solution for the allegations, which most in most probability means asking them to strike a licensing deal.
While updating its pre-IPO S-1 documentation, Twitter revealed that IBM is suing it over three patents, namely:
- U.S. Patent No. 6,957,224: Efficient retrieval of uniform resource locators;
- U.S. Patent No. 7,072,849: Method for presenting advertising in an interactive service; and
- U.S. Patent No. 7,099,862: Programmatic discovery of common contacts.
A graphical representation of the patent number US 7,072,849, which is the strongest patent in this case, can be seen in the following figure:
While Twitter is claiming innocence and is readying a defensive strategy, it is hard to say if its tactics will reap benefits, considering IBM’s experience in IP litigations. This implies that the legal drills involving IBM and Twitter will increase the pressure on Twitter to buy more patents in order to build its leverage against older tech companies.
The interesting aspect with this infringement claim is its timing. International Business Machines Corp’s patent demand against Twitter Inc. as it approaches an initial public offering highlights a very interesting aspect. Patent claims against companies approaching an IPO is fairly common as plaintiffs hope to force a lucrative settlement in their favor, and defendants try to minimize risks during that phase.
How Twitter comes out of this allegation is something to watch out for.