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Although Twitter famously has a pending patent on the familiar "pull-to-refresh" gesture, the company may have just acquired something more valuable: a patent on the Twitter messaging service itself. The new patent issued today with Twitter founders Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone listed as inventors, and broadly describes a messaging service in which users follow each other and sent messages don't have specific recipients, but are rather sent and displayed to those followers by the system itself. That's exactly how Twitter works, of course — it's definitely more of a broadcasting system than a direct messaging service, and the patent claims explicitly make reference to "broadcasting an update message" several times.Twitter Awarded Patent On Twitter "Device independent message distribution platform" [theverge.com]
Twitter confirmed that the patent was issued earlier today, and provided the following statement: "Like many companies, we apply for patents on a bunch of our inventions. We also think a lot about how those patents may be used in the future, which is why we introduced the Innovator's Patent Agreement to keep control of those patents in the hands of engineers and designers."
A system (and method) for device-independent point to multipoint communication is disclosed. The system is configured to receive a message addressed to one or more destination users, the message type being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web form input, or Application Program Interface (API) function call. The system also is configured to determine information about the destination users, the information comprising preferred devices and interfaces for receiving messages, the information further comprising message receiving preferences. The system applies rules to the message based on destination user information to determine the message endpoints, the message endpoints being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web page output, or Application Program Interface (API) function call. The system translates the message based on the destination user information and message endpoints and transmits the message to each endpoint of the message. Device independent message distribution platform [patft.uspto.gov]