ENTERPRISE VENDOR IBM is talking to microblogging website Twitter about an unreasonable use of software patents.
Software patents, for the uninitiated, keep lawyers in sportscars and snakeskin shoes. It seems that there isn't a firm in the information technology industry that isn't suing or being sued by some other company about some element of intellectual property, and now IBM has approached Twitter with its gripes in the run-up to its target's initial public offering (IPO).
IBM is asserting its rights over US Patent No. 6,957,224, Efficient retrieval of uniform resource locators; US Patent No. 7,072,849, Method for presenting advertising in an interactive service; and US Patent No. 7,099,862, Programmatic discovery of common contacts.
In its most recent filing to the SEC Twitter revealed the IBM approach and its thoughts about it. This is just one of several patent cases that the firm said it is facing, it suggested that it might decide that settling is the smartest move.
"Some of our competitors have substantially greater resources than we do and are able to sustain the costs of complex intellectual property litigation to a greater degree and for longer periods of time than we could," it said.
"The outcome of any litigation is inherently uncertain, and there can be no assurances that favorable final outcomes will be obtained in all cases. In addition, plaintiffs may seek, and we may become subject to, preliminary or provisional rulings in the course of any such litigation, including potential preliminary injunctions requiring us to cease some or all of our operations. We may decide to settle such lawsuits and disputes on terms that are unfavorable to us."
Twitter's response to IBM was that it might be able to challenge the assertions, but then again, maybe not. It said, "Based upon our preliminary review of these patents, we believe we have meritorious defenses to IBM's allegations, although there can be no assurance that we will be successful in defending against these allegations or reaching a business resolution that is satisfactory to us."
We have asked both IBM and Twitter for comment. µ