You read that right – someone is apparently suing Twitter because it lets celebs interact online. The popular micro-blogging service partly owes its popularity to celebrities like P Diddy, Ellen Degeneres, 50 Cent, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore who command millions of Twitter followers. It’s exactly this aspect of the service that’s now under fire from little-known VS Technologies, LLC that doesn’t even have a website. This company apparently holds rights to a 2002 patent entitled "Method and system for creating an interactive virtual community of famous people" and they’re seeking an unspecified amount of damages to be paid that "cannot be less than would constitute a reasonable royalty for the use of the patented technology, together with interest and costs as fixed by this Court," as they’ve put it.
The patent in question, filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office under patent number 6,408,309. reads:
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.
It doesn’t come as a surprise that in a sue-happy nation like ours people imagine ridiculous reasons meant to extort cold hard cash from successful companies like Twitter. Celebs on Twitter? Sue-worthy. Facebook chat? Hell, yes. The iPhone home button? Sue the hell out of them!
Patents exist to protect intellectual property. That said, patent trolls are too often allowed to take advantage of the system in order to basically blackmail successful American companies. It’s clear that our judicial system and patent laws need a thorough change – and for the better.