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Twitter’s IPA”: The Rise of Trade Secrets and the End of Innovation

Twitter posted their Innovators Patent Agreement (IPA)  with much ballyhoo yesterday.  Despite the claim that Twitter will only assert patents defensively, part 2(b) of the IPA allows Twitter to assert patents against anyone who has asserted their patents.  This will only exclude a very few companies, mainly startups.  Twitter’s stated goal is to promote innovation, but the real result if Twitter is successful will be that companies will rely on Trade Secrets.  Trade secrets decrease innovation, because the information is not shared.  Inventors cannot build on the work of previous inventors and they are more likely to waste resources rediscovering other people’s work (reinventing the wheel).  History clearly shows that when a country relies on trade secrets instead of patents, innovation is impeded.  Those countries with weak or nonexistent patent systems are not innovators and their people live on the edge of starvation.


  1. It’s a PR move, plain and simple. Consider this: twitter is already generally known to have failed to seek IP protection shortly after its inception, most likely rendering any patents sought now extremely weak due to intervening prior art.

    However, the IPA would not apply to any patents acquired from secondary markets, which would be the only place they are likely to obtain patents sufficient to protect the core product.

  2. Interesting point

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