Twitter goes up before the beak

Houston (TX) – Notification systems firm TechRadium has filed a lawsuit in a US district court against Twitter for infringing three of its patents.

TechRadium’s IRIS system is designed to broadcast alerts about emergency situations and lets organizations broadcast a single message to multiple recipients who can then receive it on a variety of devices including landline phones, cellphones and faxes.

The lawsuit states: “TechRadium develops, sells, and services mass notification systems that allow a group administrator or ‘message Author’ to originate a single message that will be delivered simultaneously via multiple communication gateways to members of a group of ‘message Subscribers.’

“A member of a subscriber group can receive such message in their choice of any combination of voice message, text message, e-mail and so on. This technology is patented by the Plaintiff, TechRadium, and marketed under the trade name ‘IRIS’ (Immediate Response Information System).

“Among other things, the patented IRIS technology eliminated the need for an Author to send multiple identical messages, and allowed Subscribers to select the most convenient form of notification for them.”

It has to be said that does sound rather similar to what Twitter offers.

The patents in question are patent number 7,130,389, granted in October 2006 for a “digital notification and response system”; patent number 7,496,183, granted in February 2009 for a “method for providing digital notification”; and patent number 7,519,165, granted in April 2009 for a “method for providing digital notification and receiving responses.”

They are ‘key’ to the way Twitter operates, according to the complaint.

TechRadium said that a number of municipalities and other organizations plan to use Twitter for emergency notification systems. “That’s technology that TechRadium has spent many years and a lot of money developing,” claimed a spokesman.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, seeks among other things unspecified damages, recovery of attorneys’ fees and a permanent injunction against Twitter.

Twitter remains silent.