Twitter Receives Jury Verdict In Patent infringement Trial

Patent LawyerSan Diego – Twitter received a jury verdict in its favor on Monday October 31, 2011 in a patent infringement trial held in the Eastern District of Virginia.

The action (VS Technologies v. Twitter Inc., 11cv43) was originally brought by Virginia patent attorney Dinesh Agarwal who claimed he had invented an interactive web program that had allegedly been implemented by Twitter to create its popular social networking site.

Dinesh Agarwal and his closely held VS Technologies LLC owned U.S. Patent No. 6,408,309 issued in 2002 for an interactive web program “creating an interactive community of famous people.” Agarwal claimed to have invented and patented technology used by Twitter to create its “Browse Interests” feature. Agarwal designed this feature to allow users to keep up with their favorite celebrities, such as musicians and actors, or to discover other users having similar interests. Agarwal and VS Technologies alleged in the suit against Twitter that the social networking giant had infringed the 2002 patent owned by VS. In the action, Agarwal sought over eight million dollars in damages.

To prevail in an action for patent infringement, the plaintiff must first own a valid patent. To comprise a valid patent, the patented article must be novel, non-obvious, and useful. The novelty requirements dictates that the patent cannot exist in the so called “prior art.” In other words, others cannot be using the patented article or process at the time of “invention” by the patent holder.

In this case, Twitter argued that the VS Technologies patent was invalid as it existed in the prior art and did not meet the requirements of a valid process patent. Urging the jury to find in its favor, Twitter attorneys cited Bilski v. Kappos and alleged that the VS patent was invalid as it did not meet the Supreme Court’s requirements for a business method or process patent, namely that the patent failed the machine-or-transformation test. Twitter also argued that its social networking system, which includes over 100 million international users, had not used infringing technology but had implemented its own distinct interactive web programs.

Though Twitter is used heavily by the celebrity community, the Norfolk, Virginia jury found in favor of Twitter. Twitter is the world’s largest “microblogging” site and allows users to post “Tweets” of up to 140 characters.




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