Twitter co-founder Biz Stone, has quite fittingly, tweeted that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has granted Twitter a patent on — wait for it — Twitter itself.
If you want to get into all the nitty gritty details of the patent, you can find the USPTO page here. But The Verge’s Nilay Patel probably summarizes it best as broadly describing “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.”
While Twitter can and is used to send direct messages between recipients, one of the draws of the service is the ability for users to broadcast messages. Some even say that this contributed to the sunsetting of Google’s beloved Reader service, as Twitter is seen by some as a replacement for RSS — a more social and spontaneous stream of information.
For competitors like Facebook, The Verge notes that they’ll have to take a good look at Twitter’s broad descriptions. And they’re right, a service that allows you to broadcast messages to a large group of unaddressed recipients sounds just like what you can do on Facebook, doesn’t it?
This is Twitter’s statement on the patent:
“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.”
This is Twitter co-founder Biz Stone’s tweet about the news:
“Look Ma, I’m officially an inventor (my dream as a kid)!”
I’m sure many would argue that Twitter didn’t invent the idea of Twitter and microblogging. But hey, they invented Twitter, and the Internet wouldn’t be as awesome as it is today without it.