Look out, Microsoft: patent troll haters are emerging in full force, and by golly they will not let you stifle innovation. After yesterday’s news that Twitter had adopted a Patent Agreement meant to stymie the patent wars, everyone practically fell over themselves in an effort to congratulate Twitter on its innovative thinking. The new agreement says that Twitter will not use patents offensively, and any company that acquires patents from Twitter has to get the innovator’s consent before using them offensively. It’s a smart PR move, and will no doubt further endear engineers and tech watchers to the microblogging service.
Now, startup accelerator TechStars has announced that it intends to insert these patent hack provisions into its own policy, and encourage all of the startups it incubates to do the same.
According to TechStars cofounder David Cohen:
As always, the entrepreneurs will get to choose if they want to play by these rules or not since it’s their company. But they’ll know that TechStars encourages them to adopt the provisions and we’ll make it very easy for them to do so.
If you are a fan of software innovation, you should thank Twitter for their leadership. Thank you Twitter.
While the new patent agreement is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, we’re still skeptical that it will have as widespread an impact as everyone seems to think. As one patent attorney pointed out yesterday, the language in the agreement is broad enough that Twitter could probably argue that any of its patent moves are for defensive purposes.
The agreement is still in drafts form, and we’re sure it will go through many iterations before Twitter settles on a final provision. In any case, any step taken by a big company to stem the absurd patent fights that have been going on recently is definitely a good one.