Twitter has been recognized by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as an invention.
Confirmation of this initially came from the Verge website and a document from the USPTO. It was also confirmed by founder Biz Stone where he tweeted, "Look Ma, I'm officially an inventor (my dream as a kid)!"
The applicants are listed as Jack Dorsey and Christopher Isaac, alias Biz Stone, and the patent application now approved pretty much describes Twitter, though not in a nutshell:
A method for device-independent point to multipoint communication, the method comprising: receiving from a first computing device of a first user a selection of one or more endpoints for receiving update messages; receiving, from the first computing device, a request to follow a second user; designating, by a computer processor, the first user as a follower of the second user in response to the request, wherein designating the first user comprises configuring an account of the first user to reference update messages broadcasted by the second user receiving, from a computing device of the second user, a broadcast request to broadcast an update message in a first format.
It goes on, explaining what Twitter does in the sort of terms that patent lawyers are paid to come up with.
Determining addressing information of each of the plurality of followers, wherein the addressing information of the first user identifies the endpoints for receiving messages; applying, for each of the plurality of followers, rules to the update message based on the addressing information; translating the update message into an appropriate format for each of the endpoints; and broadcasting the update message to each of the endpoints in the appropriate format.
We choose to look at it like this: the ability to send a short message to someone to whom you are attached, with certain identifiers included. The patent was filed in July 2007, and has just been approved.
Twitter later issued a statement confirming the patent grant, and said that it considers the use of all its patents carefully.
"Like many companies, we apply for patents on a bunch of our inventions," said a spokesperson for the company. "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."