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Twitter has won a new patent that it hopes to use as an example to stem the tide of patent lawsuits.
Granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today, the patent named "User interface mechanics" refers to a way of refreshing the screen by pulling it down, a feature found in Twitter's mobile app as well as a host of other apps for smartphones and tablets.
In this case, though, the patent itself may be less important than the way it which Twitter plans to use it. Under a new assignment known as the Innovator's Patent Agreement, Twitter promises to keep the patent in the hands of the engineers or designers who create the actual technology. In the "User interface mechanics" patent, control would remain with its developer, Loren Brichter.
Based on the terms of the IPA, the patent can be used only for defensive reasons, which means Twitter can assert it only if sued by another company first. If Twitter decides to use the patent offensively, it would need Brichter's permission.
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