Twitter’s clean, good-guy image is under attack and its team must be gearing up for overtime work. The social networking and microblogging service has been named in several lawsuits recently. One set of suits relates to libel and reputational damage claims. Courtney Love was sued for libel over a tweet. St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa sued Twitter, claiming reputational damage when someone impersonated him on the site. That suit prompted Twitter to start verifying accounts. Perhaps more seriously, however, is the most recent suit against Twitter.

TechRadium, Inc. has sued Twitter for patent infringement. TechRadium, a Texas-based emergency notification provider, refers to itself as an “industry leader in mass notification.” It currently has three such outstanding patents relating to digital response and notification systems and alleges Twitter is infringing on its patents by permitting municipalities, schools, and companies to alert the public of emergencies. The compay claims that Twitter’s design falls within the technology it has patented for notifying a large number of people simultaneously about hazards. Recently, entities have begun using Twitter as a method of emergency notification. Chevron and Shell, for example, use Twitter to relay messages regarding hurricanes. TechRadium is seeking damages and a permanent injunction against Twitter. It is unclear how TechRadium will address the fact that the Twitter service, when used in that particular fashion, is no different from its regular service.

Apparently, Twitter anticipated patent infringement lawsuits. Several months ago, Tech Crunch received several documents relating to Twitter’s business. In one of these documents, it was said that the company anticipated patent infringement suits in addition to other legal problems. This suit could very well be the first in a line of patent related suits.

Camielle Green

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