Posts Tagged ‘Ford’

Twitter’s ‘Innovators Patent Agreement’ to Give Control of Software Patents Back to Its Engineers

Friday, April 20th, 2012

 In the 1960’s, Robert Kearns, the inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, battled the auto industry over licensing agreements and accusing them of stealing his invention. Later, his story was made into the movie, “Flash of Genius,” starring Greg Kinnear, as described in Today Movies.

Earlier this week, Twitter announced they would commit to their employees, and release the Innovators Patent Agreement (IPA) – a new way to do patent assignment that would keep control in the hands of its engineers and designers.  This is a revolutionary approach by Twitter since typically engineers and designers are required to sign an agreement with their company that gives that company any patents filed related to the employee’s work.  The Atlantic reports that part of Twitters pledge from Twitter’s IPA reads as follows: “[Twitter] will not use the patents from employees’ inventions in offensive litigation without their permission. What’s more, this control flows with the patents, so if we sold them to others, they could only use them as the inventor intended.”

There’s no surprise tech and intellectual property writers and thinkers are jumping for joy, and rightfully so, with many feeling it’s been a long time coming. Twitter also intends to reach out to other companies to discuss the IPA with the hopes that it will catch on and eventually become the norm.  (I wonder if they will Tweet the other tech companies?)

If Robert Kearns had Twitter’s IPA to rely on, it would have saved him 20 years of legal headaches. He would have received full and immediate patent rights for the design and invention of a device that has been used in virtually every car from 1969 to present.  Eventually he did win significant court settlements ($10 million from Ford and $30 million from Chrysler).

Who knows how differently Robert Kearns’s life would have turned out with all of the sudden wealth, and who knows how this new approach to software patent control would affect our developers and engineers in the future. The difference now is they can control the destinies of their own ideas … and all the perks that come along with them.

Social Media: The New Solitaire?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

by Denise Giacin*

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Flickr Image: The Progressive

Lately I’ve been struggling with the social media paradox – is it good or is it bad? I use social media because it encourages me to be, well, social. You can keep in touch with your aunt halfway across the country, you can check out photos of your recently married ex-boyfriend (ah-hem), you can stay on top of current news stories, and you can even rant or rave about practically anything and cyberspace is forced to “listen.” Networking is also another plus for social media. One of my friends recently told me how he actually used Facebook to help out a friend who was laid off. The news came up in his Facebook feed, he contacted his friend for a resume and emailed it to a PR firm he knew was hiring. His friend was rewarded with an interview and an opportunity that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

All of this sounds good, so what’s the bad? Well, there is a lot of question and doubt regarding social media in the professional world. For one, some companies are hesitant to learn about these tools and apply them to their strategies. Instead, they are blocked, strictly forbidden, and grounds to send you packing in the event that you’re caught sneaking a peek at your Twitter feed.   

I recently attended a BDI conference called “Social Convergence and The Enterprise” and my mind is overflowing with all these thoughts on social media. Paul Hernacki, chief technology officer from Definition 6, boggled my mind with his perspective on social media in the workplace. He advised that we “stop blocking things internally.” Whoa! Wait, there’s more. Hernacki pointed out that while public relations, marketing, and communications departments should guide your company as your “official voice” this alone won’t be as successful as getting your organization involved as a whole.

This, my friends, is genius. Case and point: I tried to explain to my dad, who isn’t familiar with social media, what “liking” something is on Facebook. You should have seen the blank stare on his face.  My point is, how can you expect your employees to understand the power and impact of social media if they are not allowed to be actively involved?

At the same conference I also had the pleasure of listening to Jenny Dervin, director of corporate communications for JetBlue Airways. When speaking of social media, her words “you are being watched” hovered over the conference room. After all, the conference was being broadcast live over the web and we were all watching a live Twitter feed (#BDI) of our comments.  Dervin went on to further explain JetBlue’s use of YouTube and their blog “Blue Tales” as part of their strategy for taking a crisis situation head on. How much more authentic can you get than having the founder and former CEO of JetBlue Airways, David Neeleman, deliver an apology over YouTube? Kudos to JetBlue for picking up on the fact that consumers are involved in social media and for using this medium as a way to interact.

When your employees know what is being said on social media sites or how this medium is being used to promote a product, service, or idea it can only help your company. For example, if I worked at a major automobile manufacturer I might find it interesting to know that Ford is promoting the 2011 Explorer by unveiling it first on Facebook. In fact, the Ford Explorer fan page reached their goal of 30,000 “likes” so Ford will now give away a brand new Explorer! Clearly, Ford understands Facebook and the users who frequently use it.

I’m not suggesting that your employees should do nothing but surf the web all day, but there should be a balance. Encouraging your employees to understand social media and to use it wisely is an important tactic for any business plan. There are a lot of studies discussing whether or not social media decreases productivity at work. In my opinion, before social media it was Solitaire, before Solitaire it was “the water cooler.” There are always going to be distractions. If an employee is consistently not doing their job they shouldn’t be an employee of yours.  Not doing your work is a choice you make, regardless of how easily accessible any distractions are.

Social media gets people talking. If you want to be a part of the chatter, don’t block social media, incorporate it.  I’m sure you have many thoughts on this controversial topic and we’d love to hear them. Share your thoughts with the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas. How does your company feel about using social media internally? What ways have you utilized this social media phenomenon? How do you monitor social media?


*Bio: Prior to joining the BurrellesLuce Client Service team in 2008, Denise worked in the marketing industry for three years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of Connecticut, where she gained experience interning in PR and working for student organizations. By engaging readers on the Fresh Ideas blog Denise hopes to further her understanding of client needs. In her spare time, she is passionate about Team in Training (The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s charity sports training program) and baking cupcakes. Her claim to fame: red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. LinkedIn: dgiacin Twitter: @denise10283 Facebook: BurrellesLuce

Social Media – Is There a Payday?

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Gail Nelson
Surprisingly (at least to me) this debate is going strong in some very influential places. Chris Brogan, for one, may harbor some doubts, at least as it pertains to selling Ford Fiestas. His post, “The Real Meat of the Question” was spurred by the post, “Can Social Media Make Us Buy More Cars?,” in which Pete Cashmore discusses Ford’s experiment: the automaker has given 100 active web citizens free use of a Ford Fiesta for six months. The participants agree to post about their experience to Twitter and Facebook and Flickr and YouTube. It’s clearly a blatant grab for buzz (and it’s working – look at all these blog posts!), but will this new campaign generate new sales?  

In the meantime, Chris asks his readers to weigh in on the ability of social media to drive sales. I jumped to comment last night, and put a firm stake in the ground, saying that social media participation (in Twitter and LinkedIn, in particular) by BurrellesLuce folks has resulted in sales. Is it a “paid” program, like Ford’s? No. (We blog and tweet as individuals and participate in the conversions at large.) Has our participation in the PR community resulted in a boatload of sales? Not yet, but it’s growing. Is the cost per sale reasonable? It’s hard to say. We haven’t tracked and valued the time of all who monitor, participate and respond to prospects and customers on social networks. But we do know it’s been an effective final touch point in a number of cases.  And we are pleased to be able to put personal faces on the brand we’ve spent years to build.

So, what do you think? Will a “paid” social media buzz creation campaign sell cars, or would only a more organic effort move the needle? And If you decided to ramp up your participation in social media  – whether or not you “seed” the conversation the way Ford is – would you have the systems in place – both monitoring and measurement – to be able to answer the question, “Does social media have a payday?”