Recently, a company called VS Technologies is suing Twitter because a patent was breached called “Method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of famous people”. The U.S. patent, also known as no. 6,408,309 deals specifically with Twitter allowing users and celebrities to interact online.
This is obviously true but technically can’t any social networking website, even blogs, allow for such interaction? What makes Twitter different than someone requesting a Facebook friend request from Lady Gaga or Ashton Kutcher?
Twitter has been known for various scandals or rumors breaking out, and it is public information though. Meaning we can access easily the tweets of pretty much anyone using the system unlike Facebook. But everyone that tweets and uses Twitter knows this and does it on their own account, yes even celebrities love to chitchat and engage with their fans.
Twitter does not really allow for long conversations anyway. It is defined by brevity. E-mails and even online social outlets or games like World of Warcraft or Second Life (more of a system of virtual communities like the patent tries to define) allows for longer and more in-depth conversation. So why concentrate on just Twitter? It is really odd that a company would do this.
Here is what the patent defines and the lawsuit is based on:
“As it pertains to this lawsuit, very generally speaking, the ’309 Patent discloses methods and systems for creating interactive, virtual communities of people in various fields of endeavor wherein each community member has an interactive, personal profile containing information about that member.”
Maybe instead of suing, VS Technologies should team up or learn something from Twitter. Often simplicity is the best method in integrating communities as Twitter showed. Twitter doesn’t try to be a complicated service or even a Facebook replacement. It is based on communication and sharing information in brief segments — not necessairly on a specific celebrity-based interaction.
I would suggest VS Technologies an acquisition but I doubt they could afford one, especially since Google is already on that path. Google realizes the communication possibilities of Twitter, and interactive environments like it. Google also understands Twitter’s potential created in integrating it with the rest of the Web thus streamlining the search process for stories or feeds for example. I am talking about apps, for instance, like iPad’s Flipboard that allows users to have a magazine-like navigation of tweets that often contains links to full articles and can be viewed directly from the app.
Twitter allows you to get feeds from a list of people or companies represented by someone using the service — in an organized fashion and without having to navigate the entire website of that said company. With Flipboard, you can look at main headlines and images of subjects that you are interested in and through Twitter feeds as well. The integration of social services with online Web content like news stories is getting more streamlines.
Basically the point I am getting at is that Twitter isn’t just an outlet of communication or gossip like some websites portray it. However it has it’s limitations as well — notably the brevity of the tweets you can post. I think it is silly to sue the company just because it allows celebrities and users to interact based on some patent. Any website or service online could technically allow this if the celebrities sign up and share their contact information. Speaking of Twitter, am I the only one who constantly has to find out the real spelling of the social network? I always think that the title is ‘Tweeter,’ due to users sending ‘tweets,’ and not as ‘Twitter.’