SnapChat VS the US Government - patent smackdown

SnapChat VS the US Government - patent smackdown

Snapchat is the disappearing messaging company, in which users send Snaps which rapidly vanish from their phones.

But not all of Snapchats technology is for messages that disappear.

Snapchat also has two patent applications for user-controlled message retention. Both relate to a thread of messages that are automatically deleted after a certain period of time unless the user requests otherwise, in which case the sender is notified (US Patent Application Nos. 20140359032 and 20140359024, both published in 2014).

These applications could be the basis of retained brand stories, campaigns which the user could potentially be permitted to save in the future.

For these campaigns, the user could decide to retain a brand message from a brand story ? and then the brand would be notified. This would allow brands to more easily identify its most engaged fans and followers.

Currently Snapchat allows text messages or parts of messages to be saved. However, these two patent applications allow entire messages  of any type to be saved.

Unfortunately, these two patent applications are having problems at the USPTO (US Patent and Trademark Office).


As of today, Snapchat is in the middle of a big battle with the examiners at the USPTO, the US government office that judges patent quality (see my previous article on how patents are like sausages).

For US 20140359032, the examiner is clearly not buying what Snapchat is selling ? after two rounds, Snapchat had to buy more examination time with the USPTO (kind of like buying another life in a video game).

Stay tuned to see how the examiner reacts to Snapchats latest attempt, filed on March 11 2015.

Snapchat ran into the same problems with US 20140359024, but cleverly asked for an interview with the examiner, held on February 13 2015 (a public record was made available on February 23 2015).

Nothing has been granted yet from this one either ? no patents for Snapchat as of today on this technology.

Snapchat is 0-2 for its latest two patent applications.


It seems that Snapchat is branching out from its previous everything disappears? philosophy with these two patent applications. Snapchat has put some heavy resources into these applications ? neither interviews with examiners nor getting a second life? option for patent applications is cheap.

Snapchat must believe in this technology. I gave one reason why the technology could be important, although of course this is pure speculation on my part ? I have no idea why Snapchat wants these patents.

But it must be something important, or Snapchat wouldn’t bother. Perhaps it relates to native advertising, one way that Snapchat could stop its losses – and actually turn a profit.

So I wonder what is getting a $15 billion dollar value company all worked up?

Stay tuned to find out!

UPDATE – Snapchat filed a motion to dismiss the interference case with Mojo Media (now called “Bigfoot Internet Ventures”). This motion was denied so the case continues. Thanks to reader Daniel for his comment below, alerting me to this event.

Will Snapchat lose its patent?

Mojo Media has declared an Interference – a special patent challenge – against Snapchat’s tap and hold feature used to toggle between single shot and video (Snapchat’s US Patent No. 8428453).

If Mojo Media wins, it would take away “tap and hold” from Snapchat!

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