Yesterday, Twitter announced something very important called the Innovators Patent Agreement which Fred Wilson calls the “Patent Hack.” With this mechanism, Twitter has said that it will not use assigned or acquired patents offensively, nor will any company that acquires patents from Twitter be able to use them offensively without the innovators consent.
What does this mean? It means that Twitter has the balls to compete on the basis of the products it creates and the service it provides. It won’t rely on patents to “win” an offensive game. It will use them as an asset only if and when it is attacked. What a concept.
Reasonable people can argue about software patents, but in general we strongly believe that they simply slow down innovation and are the source of tremendous waste. Behavior recently has been downright ridiculous.
TechStars intends to insert these Patent Hack provisions into our standard formation documents and encourage all of our companies to adopt the patent hack. As always, the entrepreneurs will get to choose if they want to play by these rules or not since it’s their company. But they’ll know that TechStars encourages them to adopt the provisions and we’ll make it very easy for them to do so.
If you are a fan of software innovation, you should thank Twitter for their leadership. Thank you Twitter.