IP News in general

Twitter's move to gift patent rights to inventors could prove limiting commercially

20th April, 2012

Twitter’s move to give control of patent rights for inventions to the individuals responsible for their development could prove to be limiting commercially, says Withers & Rogers.

Karl Barnfather, patent attorney at Withers & Rogers, said:

“In taking this decision, Twitter is sending a message to the marketplace that it is committed to sharing intellectual property rights, however this could lead to a number of problems.

“For example, the company could find it more difficult to draw up inter-company commercial agreements in the future because in certain circumstances the inventor would need to be included as a party and this individual may not even still be employed by the business. The fact that the inventor owns the patent rights could also impact on the perceived value of the business if it is later seeking financial investment or wants to dispose of some assets.”

Section 40 of the UK Patents Act (UKPA) enables inventors to seek compensation for their contribution to the success of the business and similar legislation exists around the world. One of the most significant awards for compensation in recent years was made by the Nichia Corporation in 2004 to the inventor of the blue-light emitting diode – an award of over £100 million.

Karl Barnfather adds:

“In my experience, inventors are not really interested in owning patent rights as such. They are much more interested in the kudos of being named inventor and in being rewarded for their endeavour, especially where it can be shown that their patented invention has brought ‘outstanding benefit’ to the business.”

"We have worked with Withers & Rogers as our main Patent Agent for more than 10 years, and have commissioned the firm for a wide range of activities, including IP strategy review, patent filing, international continuations, national phases and various advisory and other activities in defending our patents. Throughout, Withers & Rogers has been most professional, and we have very rarely had any issues with the quality of your work."  

The University of Warwick logo Ederyn Williams, Director, Warwick Ventures