Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Oh, patents! Twitter

Copyright @ Françoise Herrmann 

You might suppose that it is twittering with 140 characters max on the Twitter communication platform that distinguishes Twitter from all other communication systems, and thus consists of the Twitter invention. After all, this is where the art of being succinct all began in the 21st century, plus much more, connected to reporting and world events. Nowhere else will you be coached so elegantly into 'getting to the point'!

But, things are not always so evident…! Indeed, we expect quite the opposite when it comes to research. It is precisely when findings are the most surprising that the research is interesting. And so it is with the family of patents disclosing the Twitter invention, titled Device independent message distribution platform, which describes a communication system enabling communication across all platforms, and even across carriers, used by senders and recipients.

Indeed, the Twitter invention was disclosed in a playing field where communication was only supported between similar sorts of devices, using similar sorts of messages. That is, existing platforms only supported communication from email to email, or cell phone SMS to SMS, with a few exceptions that were carrier-based where it was possible to send an SMS from a cell phone to an email account. Thus, the Twitter patents not only disclose an invention that makes it possible for users using different platforms to communicate, it also discloses a system that enables a message to be sent to several people all using different platforms, for example, for sending a message to a cell phone number, an email address and web-based message forum, and in turn, for the sender to receive messages from each of the recipients using different platforms, and message types! 

Thus, the 140-character tweet appears more the consequence of the Twitter invention, than the actual novel and inventive step for which patents were granted. The 140-character tweet is the common denominator, at the intersection of all message types, communication platforms and carriers. The tweet provides a new medium, at the tip of a resolved problematic situation with the prior art, through which all previous communication might also cycle more freely, and concisely!

US8401009, US9088532 and US9577966, titled Device independent message distribution platform, were granted to Jack Dorsey and Christopher Isaac Stone, respectively in 2013, 2015 and 2017.  One of the Abstracts of the Twitter invention is included below, as well as the beloved blue Twitter logo.
An example system for device-independent point to multipoint communication is configured to receive a message addressed to one or more destination users, the message type being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web form input, or Application Program Interface (API) function call. The system also is configured to determine information about the destination users, the information comprising preferred devices and interfaces for receiving messages, the information further including message receiving preferences. The system applies rules to the message based on destination user information to determine the message endpoints, the message endpoints being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web page output, or Application Program Interface (API) function call. The system translates the message based on the destination user information and message endpoints and transmits the message to each endpoint of the message. [US9577966]

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