Twitter published a draft of the Innovator's Patent Agreement, informally called as the "IPA", an agreement that subsequently guarantees it will not user its patents aginst competitors, while allowing engineers to keep control over their patents.
It said the move would mean it could only launch offensive intellectual property lawsuits with their permission.
"The IPA is a new way to do patent assignment that keeps control in the hands of engineers and designers. It is a commitment from Twitter to our employees that patents can only be used for defensive purposes," Adam Messinger, VP of Engineering, explained.
Adding, "We will not use the patents from employees' inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What's more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended," Messinger said.
Adding, Twitter says they'll implement the IPA later this year, and it will apply to all patents issued to its engineers, both past and present. This is a significant departure from the current state of affairs in the industry.
"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 Messinger.
"The company then has control over the patents and can use them however they want, which may include selling them to others who can also use them however they want."
"With the IPA, employees can be assured that their patents will be used only as a shield rather than as a weapon."
"We are still in early stages, and have just started to reach out to other companies to discuss the IPA and whether it might make sense for them too," said Messinger.
Twitter also introduced new features to surface the most Frequently Asked Questions, providing instant and easy access to the information that matters most to you.
"For starters, we curated and organized Frequently Asked Questions by category, answering all of them on one canonical page," Twitter said. In addition, Twitter also highlighting the most relevant questions & answers where you'll benefit most:
- When you start typing a question in the "Ask" box of the discussion boards, we'll suggest pertinent FAQ items inline.
- On documentation pages, you can now see the common questions related to that doc. For example, GET statuses/user_timeline.
Twitter's IPA is available on GitHub.