Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Twitter and Facebook - Current Patent Portfolio

We all use some form of social media to interact with like minded people from across the world. Therefore, it is not surprising that the number of subscribers to these "Social Networking" sites such as Facebook and Twitter keeps increasing continuously and it is highly unlikely that the number of subscribers will hit a plateau anytime soon in the near future. Facebook has been valued at $100bn while Twitter is estimated to touch $7bn.

The last few years has witnessed a major increase in the number of patent litigation cases. Some of these high profile patent litigation cases have involved social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter. A study performed to analyze the patent portfolio of Facebook and Twitter gave some interesting results.

Patent Portfolio of Twitter:
Number of US granted patents: 0
Number of US published patent applications: 0
Number of WIPO applications: 0

Yes! Twitter has zero patents and zero published patent application with the USPTO. It is hard to believe that Twitter does not have even a single patent to protect itself from potential lawsuits and trolls in the future ! However, there is a small possibility that Twitter may have filed some patent applications in the last year that have not been published yet.

Patent Portfolio of Facebook:
Number of US granted patents: 11
Number of US published patent applications: 21
Number of WIPO applications: 62

Unlike Twitter, Facebook has patents that cover its technology. Even though the number of patents granted to Facebook is just 11, there are 21 published patent applications that are either in prosecution stage or will enter prosecution stage in another year or so. The trend also indicates that Facebook must have filed many more patent applications that have not been published yet.

The list of patents assigned to Facebook has been provided below:
US7970657Giving gifts and displaying assets in a social network environment
US7945653Tagging digital media
US7933810Collectively giving gifts in a social network environment
US7890501Visual tags for search results generated from social network information
US7827265System and method for confirming an association in a web-based social network
US7827208Generating a feed of stories personalized for members of a social network
US7809805Systems and methods for automatically locating web-based social network members
US7797256Generating segmented community flyers in a social networking system
US7788260Ranking search results based on the frequency of clicks on the search results by members of a social network who are within a predetermined degree of separatio
US7725492Managing information about relationships in a social network via a social timeline
US7669123Dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network

Many of these patents cover technology that is currently implemented on Facebook. So while Facebook has acquired a few patents, what has been Twitter up to? How does Twitter plan to deal with such lawsuits that are being filed against it?

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