I have written previously that Twitter only has a single published patent application to its name and no patents. The application is the famous pull down to refresh application which was acquired with Twitter’s acquisition of Tweetie. While it is possible that Twitter has other unpublished patent applications pending at the USPTO, it is clear that the company’s patent portfolio is currently small. Now, according to a tweet by Twitter’s General Counsel, Alex Macgillivray, the company is becoming more serious about expanding its patent portfolio.
The company is looking for a patent agent whose duties will be “preparation and prosecution of patent applications here at Twitter, including managing outside counsel during the prosecution process.” The path taken by Twitter appears to be similar to that taken by Dropbox. I wrote several months ago that Dropbox had a posting for a patent counsel several months ago with similar job duties.
I am also interested whether the Yahoo patent lawsuit against Facebook had any affect on Twitter’s desire to create such a position. It should be attractive for a tech company such as Twitter to build up its patent portfolio in order to provide assets that may be used in response to attacks such as that launched by Yahoo against Facebook.
Update: Mr. Macgillivray just responded that the position was posted prior to Yahoo filing the lawsuit:
@startupsip Yes. It’s been posted since before the suit.
— Alex Macgillivray (@amac) March 15, 2012
My remaining thoughts regarding why Twitter might be looking to expand its patent portfolio mirror those I wrote about with respect to Dropbox patent counsel posting. It will be interesting to see whether this new position at Twitter will lead to an increase in the number of patent applications. I suspect that this position with Twitter would be a very interesting one and encourage those that may be interested to apply (and report back).