updated 02:20 pm EDT, Sat June 11, 2011
Lodsys expands patent suits to hit Best Buy, more
Lodsys tested its limits on Friday by expanding its lawsuits beyond app developers. A new complaint serving as a preemptive strike against possible patent invalidation has targeted 10 companies, including Adidas, Best Buy, CVS, Sam's Club, and others, accuses them of violating two patents mentioned in Lodsys' campaign to sue iOS app developers for in-app purchases. All but Sam's Club were sued for allegedly copying one patent by having surveys on their websites, while Sam's Club, Black & Decker, and Vitamin Shoppe were sued for just using "feedback soliciting FAQs" or live help chat.
The lawsuit likely hinged on the concept of "first to file," which sets precedent for who believes they were the wronged party and determines who can control the proceedings of the case. ForeSee, which motioned for the declaratory judgment to invalidate Lodsys' main patents, will now likely have to persuade the Eastern District of Texas court to move parts or more of the case to its preferred Chicago courthouse. ForeSee provides online surveys to Adidas, Best Buy, and others, and would not only be affected by Lodsys' new suit but by virtually anyone else it serves.
Apple and iOS developers may be affected by ForeSee's moves, since it may influence where any of Lodsys' own complaints will go and which verdicts will work in its favor.
Broad patent claims aren't uncommon among non-contributing patent owners, but its scale from large to small companies is somewhat unusual. Lodsys tried suing HP, Motorola, Samsung, and seven other companies in February before targeting app developers and its new complaint. The firm paid for control of the patents and is likely determined to get as much return on the investment as possible. [via Florian Mueller]