Lodsys ignores Apple, proceeds to sue iOS developers

Tue, May 31, 2011

Legal, News

Well that was quick. Just one week after targeted iOS developers felt they were in the clear after Apple issued a strongly worded response to Lodsys over alleged claims of patent infringement, the patent troll has decided to move forward with its plans regardless.

Lodsys today published a sequence of blogposts where it detailed its plans to file suit against iOS developers who make use of in-app purchases and subsequently infringe upon Lodsys’ patents. Lodsys had initially sent iOS developers letters explaining their desire to strike a licensing deal within a 21 day time frame under the implied threat of litigation. Apple’s decision to stand by its developers, however, prompted Lodsys to close that gap and take matters to the court right away.

Q: Why did Lodsys sue some App Developers on May 31, 2011?

Lodsys chose to move its litigation timing to an earlier date than originally planned, in response to Apple’s threat, in order to preserve its legal options.

The full complaint levied against 7 mobile developers can be viewed here.

Notably, Lodsys vehemently disagrees with Apple’s assertion that iOS developers are undisputedly licensed to Lodsys’ patents under Apple’s own license.

[Apple’s] letter was very surprising as Apple and Lodsys were in confidential discussions and there was clearly disagreement on the interpretation of the license terms of Apple’s agreement. Before, during and after these interactions, Lodsys has carefully considered this issue and consulted several legal experts to consider Apple’s claims. We stand firm and restate our previous position that it is the 3rd party Developers that are responsible for the infringement of Lodsys’ patents and they are responsible for securing the rights for their applications. Developers relying on Apple’s letter do so to their own detriment and are strongly urged to review Apple’s own developer agreements to determine the true extent of Apple’s responsibilities to them.

So who did Lodsys end up suing? FOSS Patents breaks down the 7 unlucky defendants:

  • Combay, Inc. of Roanoke, Texas; accused of infringement of Lodsys’s ‘565 and ‘078 patents with (at least) Mega Poker Online Texas Holdem for iPhone
  • Iconfactory, Inc. of Greensboro, North Carolina; accused of infringement of Lodsys’s ‘565 and ‘078 patents with (at least) Twitterrific for iPhone, Twitterriffic for iPad, and Twitterriffic for Mac
  • Illusion Labs AB of Malmö, Sweden; accused of infringement of Lodsys’s ‘565 and ‘078 patents with (at least) Labyrinth for iPhone and Labyrinth for Android
  • Michael G. Karr [doing business as] Shovelmate of Las Vegas, Nevada; accused of infringement of Lodsys’s ‘565 and ‘078 patents with (at least) 69 Positions for iPhone
  • Quickoffice, Inc. of Austin Texas; accused of infringement of Lodsys’s ‘565 and ‘078 patents with (at least) Quickoffice Connect for iPhone
  • Richard Shinderman of Brooklyn, New York; accused of infringement of Lodsys’s ‘565 and ‘078 patents with (at least) Hearts and Daggers for iPhone
  • Wulven Games of Hanoi, Vietnam; accused of infringement of Lodsys’s ‘565 and ‘078 patents with (at least) Shadow Era for iPhone

Lodsys also writes that it has replied back to Apple with a lengthy legal response that it welcomes Apple to publish to the masses.

Somewhat obnoxiously, Lodsys also explained that it will pay any wrongfully targeted developer $1,000 if Apple’s contention that iOS developers are licensed is ultimately proven to be accurate. Why so obnoxious? Because $1,000 is chump change compared to the cost developers will incur trying to defend themselves with attorney fees, not to mention diverted resources and potential travel fees.

Addressing once again why the company is targeting small iOS developers, Lodsys explains:

This story is about accountability for actions. If you are a Developer, it’s about knowledge about the scope and risks of your own business.

Lodsys has only one motivation: we want to get paid for our rights.

Lodsys continues:

For many people, it is easier to call Lodsys and other rights holders names for trying to be compensated for their rights, within a system that is established and known, than it is to consider one’s own responsibility, or the promises and motivations of the platform provider.

Complete and utter nonsense. People call Lodsys names because the patent they’re trying to flex is nothing more than broadly worded descriptions backed up with absolutely ZERO technical information. It’s a patent on an idea, not an implementation, and the fact that this patent was even granted is a glaring referendum on the sad sate of our patent system where true innovators often have to pay NPEs (non-practicing entities) who traffic in questionable patents a toll charge to do business.

Late last week, Lodsys expanded its horizons when it began targeting Android developers for the same thing.

Now as for what Lodsys wants, it demands 0.575% of all revenue earned during the time period a developer made use of in-app purchasing. Not surprisingly, the licensing contract sought by Lodsys states that they reserve the right to change the terms of the licensing percentage at their discretion with no advance warning. Yeah, classy guys.

This is getting interesting.


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1 Comments For This Post

  1. HammerOfTruth Says:

    I can’t wait for Apple’s legal bitchslap of Lodsys.

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