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East Texas judge blocks Apple intervention in Lodsys disputes

updated 09:30 am EDT, Mon September 30, 2013

Ruling applies to cases already settled

An east Texas judge, Rodney Gilstrap, has issued a ruling blocking Apple from intervening on behalf of iOS app developers pursued by Lodsys, reports say. The order, handed down last Tuesday, also allows Lodsys to settle individually with each of the developers it has been leveling patent claims against. Apple has been seeking to intervene on behalf of developers for two years, arguing that it since it licensed patents (now owned by Lodsys) from Intellectual Ventures for in-app purchases, third-party developers are already protected.

Apple accuses Lodsys of threatening and/or suing developers in such a way as to force them to "quickly and cheaply" settle their cases, rather than face an expensive lawsuit. In circumstances where Apple might try to file a counterclaim, Lodsys is said to get a case stayed or dismissed to avoid the confrontation.

Gilstrap's ruling is based on the argument that while Apple's intervention motion might be valid for an active case, it technically applied to cases that have already been settled. Lodsys filed to dismiss the motion on that basis. It was suggested that Apple take on Lodsys directly, but the latter has previously said it recognizes Apple's patents; it simply doesn't acknowledge their application to third-party firms.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Inkling

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 07-25-06

    You might have noticed that an inordinate share of dubious lawsuits get filed in East Texas. There's a reason for that. East Texas has long been notorious for corrupt federal court judges who tilt decisions in favor of tort lawyers or, in this case, patent trolls such as Lodsys.

    Wikipedia notes that: "The district has been perceived to be a favorable jurisdiction for plaintiffs in patent infringement lawsuits, which win 88% of the time compared to a nation-wide average of 68% in 2006, even, according to some claims, in dubious cases." I'd add that those statistics probably understate what happens. Lawyers are fools. If they have a weak case, they go to East Texas. Filed in other districts, I doubt more that 20-30% of these infringement lawsuits would be wins.

    Recently, some had began to hope the district was getting cleaned up. The more recent Bush administration appointed four judges to the court. Since judges are assigned at random, that makes filing in the district more risky, It means Lodsys-like companies faced a higher risk of getting an honest judge.

    This decision in favor of Lodsys and hostile to small developers suggests that the tide may be shifting in the other direction. Judge James Gilstrap is an Obama appointee, so those crooked East Texas courts are making a comeback. That's not good news, particularly for independent software developers.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    When I initially read the headline I would have agreed with you. But the actual ruling turned Apple down ONLY because it wanted to intervene in already-settled cases. So I have to agree with the judge on this one. Apple will likely re-file to give up the already-settled cases and likely be allowed to participate.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 08-06-01

    Whatever the legal merits of this particular factor of this particular case, there is something deeply and fundamentally wrong when nearly every questionable patent lawsuit in the country gets filed in the same East Texas district, despite that district having absolutely nothing at all to do with either company involved in the lawsuit.

    It's bizarre that such a situation should even be allowed in the first place, and shameful that the legal system hasn't somehow corrected itself to fix what is clearly an abuse of a cadre of judges colluding to gather "business" for their area.

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