Twitter snags patent for pull-to-refresh, swears it will only use it defensively

release to refresh

You know that little icon you see when you pull down the screen to refresh a page on just about every mobile app on the market? What you might not have known is that Loren Brichter, founder of Atebits, a little startup acquired by Twitter in 2010, was the guy who invented the pull-to-refresh feature. The Verge reports that the feature has been officially awarded a patent to Brichter on behalf of Twitter.

Don’t worry though. Twitter isn’t out to sue LinkedIn, Path, Google, or all the other companies that have implemented the now-patented pull-to-refresh. Twitter will only pull out the patent big guns if it needs to defensively protect itself.

In fact, Twitter has something called the Innovator’s Patent Agreement that it’s been working on since April 2012 to make sure that the company won’t ever use patents offensively. With the first official version of the Innovator’s Patent Agreement(IPA)  launching today, it ensures that any legal action involving its engineers’ patents can only be used defensively.

Last year, Twitter lawyer Ben Lee then published a guest post in GigaOM defending Twitter’s win over VS Technologies, a company that patented the ability to follow famous people on social networks called “Method and System for Creating an Interactive Virtual Community of Famous People.” Lee alluded to the fact that VS Technologies was simply trolling considering that VS Technologies hasn’t really done anything with its patent in the first place.

We can’t help but recognize an anti-competitive caveat, especially knowing that the first version of the IPA has loopholes. People reading the document may even point fingers at Twitter, as The Verge recognizes, by saying that the social network now has grounds (without looking like the bad guy) to go after any company that in the past 10 years sued, filed, or participated in a lawsuit against Twitter. The IPA explicitly states that Twitter is able to use IPA patents to deflect patent suits.

For example, if Twitter decides that it’s inspired enough to use a “patented” feature from a competing smaller social network, and that social network decides to sue Twitter, there’s a good chance that the patents that Twitter has in its arsenal could shut down the competition.

In other words, don’t go after Twitter if it has a patent that could backfire on you. 

At the same time, its PR spin publicizing the IPA might not be such a bad thing. The company is setting an example for the tech environment, which has a broken patent system as we know all too well. For a company that’s as well-known as Twitter, it’s a start in the right direction and you can only hope that other corporations can follow suit.

Computing

Microsoft reverses decision and extends lifeline to MS Paint for Windows 10

Microsoft reversed its decision to deprecate the classic MS Paint software on Windows 10. Microsoft announced on Twitter that the mainstay free image editor that comes pre-installed with Windows will live on for now.
Social Media

Vine co-founder launches beta test for new video-looping app Byte

Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann has finally launched the beta version of Byte, a new video-looping app expected to closely resemble the one that closed down in 2017 after owner Twitter withdrew support.
Movies & TV

Watch the Captain Marvel, other MCU post-credits scenes before Avengers: Endgame

Catch up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe's ongoing storyline before Avengers: Endgame's big finale by watching the post-credits scenes for every Marvel film, including Captain Marvel, via Twitter.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Social Media

Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp went down worldwide for 2 hours this morning

Chaos erupted on the internet this morning, as Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp all went down from 6:30 a.m. to approximately 9 a.m. Thousands of users were unable to access the sites or send or receive Whatsapp messages.
Mobile

Skype screen sharing for mobile will let you share your swipes on dating apps

Skype is prepping the launch of screen sharing for mobile so you can share your swipes on dating apps, shop with buddies, or, perhaps, show a PowerPoint presentation to coworkers. It's in beta just now, but anyone can try it.
Social Media

Facebook toys with mixing Stories and News Feed into one swipeable carousel

Facebook's News Feed could look a lot like Stories if a prototype the social media giant is working on rolls out to users. The design change mixes Stories and News Feed posts into a full-screen slideshow that users swipe left to navigate.
Social Media

No more moon showers as Facebook Messenger’s dark mode gets official rollout

Facebook Messenger launched a dark mode last month, but to activate it you had to message the crescent moon to someone. Now it's been rolled out officially, and it can be accessed in a far more sensible way — via settings.
News

Twitter has revealed a launch date for its handy hide replies features

Twitter has revealed a launch date for a feature that lets users hide replies to their tweets. The hope is that it will help the original poster filter out offensive or irrelevant content from conversation threads.
Smart Home

Oh, Zuck, no! Facebook rumored to be creating a voice assistant to rival Alexa

Facebook hasn't been a big player in the smart speaker market, but that may be changing: The social media giant is reportedly working on a digital assistant to compete against Alexa and others.
Social Media

Facebook says it unintentionally uploaded email contacts of 1.5 million users

Facebook says that over the last two years it unintentionally uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users as they signed up to the social networking service. The process has ended and the email addresses are being deleted.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Facebook data security, Ubisoft helps Notre Dame, and more

Join DT Live as we discuss Facebook security issues, Ubisoft's plan to help rebuild Notre Dame, and more. We are also joined by Emily Teteut of Snap the Gap, Jennifer Sendrow of New York Public Radio, and DJ and producer Zeke Thomas.
Photography

After controversial video, China bans ‘Leica’ on social media

A video that referenced Tiananmen Square got the name of the camera company Leica banned from the social media platform Weibo. Leica says the video wasn't an officially sanctioned promotion.
Photography

Photography News: Instagram’s disappearing likes, the best photos of the year

In this week's Photography News, see why Instagram is testing a version that excludes the number of likes a post gets. Also, see the impressive winners from two photography contests and the latest features coming to the Fujifilm X-T3.