Twitter has just been granted a new patent for the pull-to-refresh feature it uses within its smartphones and tablet apps. The patent named “User interface mechanics” was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday.

The patent has been granted to Loren Brichter, who brought the pull-to-refresh gesture to Twitter when it acquired Tweetie developer Atebits back in 2010. The micro-blogging website plans to use this patent under its Innovator’s Patent Agreement (IPA) provision that it introduced last year.

IPA's first patent

IPA's first patent

According to the IPA, a patent will only be used for defensive purposes. It forms a contract between Twitter and its employees saying that the latter will have to grant permission before the company could sue offensively. The IPA assures that the patent will remain in the hands of the designers and engineers who have developed the technology behind it.

“This promise stays with the patent: a signed copy of the IPA is kept in the public files for the patent where anyone can see it. We plan on using the IPA on all of our issued patents,” wrote Benjamin Lee, Legal Director of Twitter announcing the patent.

More interestingly, Lee also announced that four new companies – Jelly, Lift, Stack Exchange and TellApart will also be adopting IPA for their patents. This is being lauded as a positive attempt in trying to fix the patent system that is full of glitches and chinks. “We hope the adoption of the IPA will spur constructive dialogue on making patent system work better for companies, inventors, and policymakers alike,” he wrote in the blog post. Hopefully more companies will use patents in a constructive way by giving the IPA a shot within their systems.

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