Twitter secures patent for Twitter

There's a fair way to go until we start contemplating year-end retrospectives again, but when the time does come, we're pretty sure that we'll remember "Twitter patents Twitter" as one of 2013's most eye-catching social media trends.

That is indeed the case, however, after the microblogging service's co-founders, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone, got their paws on a very broad patent for a messaging system that offers "device-independent point to multipoint communication" and is based around "broadcasting an update message" multiple times.

"The system is configured to receive a message addressed to one or more destination users...The system applies rules to the message based on destination user information to determine the message endpoints, the message endpoints being, for example, Short Message Service (SMS), Instant Messaging (IM), E-mail, web page output, or Application Program Interface (API) function call," an excerpt from the relavent USPTO documentation reads.

Does the successful patent application mean it's squeaky bum time for Mark Zuckerberg and his cronies? It's definitely food for thought as Facebook contemplates future product offerings, but for its part, Twitter has previously committed to only use corporate patents defensively. Any other legal action would have to be instigated independently by the developer or developers responsible for the innovation.

"Like many companies, we apply for patents on a bunch of our inventions. 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," Twitter told the Verge.

In other words, an Apple vs Samsung-style patent war seems unlikely; for the time being at least, the mood in the Twitter camp is purely celebratory.

"Look Ma, I'm officially an inventor (my dream as a kid)!" tweeted Biz Stone.

Twitter is also seeking a patent for the "pull-to-refresh" gesture used on its mobile apps.