updated 02:25 pm EDT, Thu September 1, 2011
Lodsys aims at BlackBerry devs after iOS, Android
Lodsys has widened the scope of its patent trolling to include BlackBerry developers, new accounts revealed late Wednesday. At least Lonely Turret developer Rotten Ogre has been targeted for selling apps in the US with in-app purchases. It hasn't been sued but has faced Lodsys' common strategy, where it offers a licensing deal knowing that the developer can't afford to challenge the legitimacy of the patents in question, the Globe and Mail said.
The shift to the BlackBerry follows a pattern of targeting smaller and smaller mobile OS app markets, starting with the potentially more lucrative iOS developer community and moving to Android developers.
An expanded pursuit follows even as Lodsys is facing mounting problems with its ability to pursue its case. It has become desparate to avoid Apple intervention in its core lawsuit as it knows Apple has the legal clout to possibly block the case. Google, after leaving developers undefended for months, sought to invalidate Lodsys' patents with a USPTO review. Other companies in non-app cases are themselves pushing for declaratory judgments that would freeze much of its legal action.
In all of its claims, Lodsys has tried to argue that existing patent licenses it has with Apple, Google, and others cover only the OS and not the developers' apps, letting it charge twice for the same uses. Many have pointed out the inherent problem with the argument, since the developers are often just using a programming interface in iOS, Android, or BlackBerry OS that the platform developer made, largely making Apple, Google, or RIM responsible for the allegedly infringing code.
RIM hasn't responded to the claims but might face calls from BlackBerry developers who are concerned that they could encounter the same chilling effect on their future work as Android and BlackBerry developers hesitate to include in-app purchasing for any titles destined for the US App Store or Android Market.