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.
Skips usual demand for patent licenses
Patent holding firm Lodsys has agreed to mutual charitable donations as settlement in its case against TMSOFT, a developer of various Mac and iOS apps. The person behind TMSOFT, Todd Moore, described the case as a "frivolous lawsuit" and notes that the case has been dismissed "with prejudice," preventing Lodsys from suing him again. He adds that he wasn't forced to sign a confidentiality agreement, but that he also isn't allowed to sue Lodsys, which could've been used to have courts rule the company's patents invalid.
Apple's intervention efforts unknown
Patent holder Lodsys had added Disney to the list of companies it is pursuing with lawsuits over in-app purchases, reports say. In a new court filing, Where's My Water? and other unspecified Disney apps are said to violate Lodsys' '565 and '078 US patents. "Prior to filing this complaint, Lodsys informed Disney of the patents-in-suit and offered to enter into a licensing arrangement that would allow Disney to continue practicing the inventions claimed in patents-in-suit," the filing continues. "Disney, however, chose not to enter into a licensing agreement. Instead, with knowledge of the patents-in-suit and disregard for Lodsys' patent rights, Disney chose to continue its infringement."
Google filing forced USPTO analysis of patent
The otherwise-stagnant Lodsys lawsuit has shown signs of life after six months of inactivity. According to a blog post on the Lodsys website, during the inter-parties reexamination requested by Google, the United States Patent Trade Office has confirmed the non-practicing entity's patent as valid after on in-app purchases and free-to-paid application upgrades.
New judge agrees to limited intervention
Courts have finally allowed Apple to involve itself in an ongoing lawsuit filed by Lodsys against a number of app developers. Apple in June filed a motion to intervene, however the request was met by opposition from Lodsys and further stalled as the case was swapped to Judge Rodney Gilstrap.
Apple may trump rivals, Lodsys with in-app patent
Apple is hoping to corner the app market with a USPTO patent filing published Thursday. A submission for "In Application Purchasing" appears to cover the basics of what most app stores use today, letting users buy content from within an app from an outside content store as though it were from within the app. Some variants can put up an overlay to bring up the purchase, and the app itself could be an HTML5 web app, not just native.
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.
Lodsys sur-reply to Apple faces poor prospects
Lodsys showed potential strain in its lawsuit after it issued a sur-reply to Apple's own response. Originally submitted earlier in the month but just discovered Monday, the response makes the questionable claim that Apple can't motion because some of the app developers sued challenge the validity of the patents. Similarly, it contends that the license it has with Apple doesn't make it a licensor and makes generic claims towards Apple having not somehow satisfied a "heavy burden."
Google asks USPTO to invalidate Lodsys patents
Google has at last taken steps to try and protect Android developers from the wide-ranging Lodsys lawsuit, the company's general counsel Kent Walker stated Saturday. The company has asked the USPTO to reexamine the validity of two patents for in-app purchases that "should never have been issued," according to Walker. The approach described to Wired would either narrow the scope of the complaints or invalidate the patents entirely, likely forcing Lodsys to either limit the reach of lawsuits or toss them out entirely.
Apple has necessary information, defendants say
Four major parties defending themselves against Lodsys' legal accusations are actively petitioning the court to accept Apple's intervention request. Game publishers Atari, Electronic Arts and Square-Enix were joined by Quickoffice in sending a letter to the court yesterday, urging it to grant Apple's motion. All four companies are being represented in the matter by the same lawfirm, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The first three have yet to even be served their summons however, and state that they are stepping in early to "ensure that their voices are heard in connection with the pending motion to intervene."
Eon-Net loss may hurt Lodsys too
A recent decision in a patent lawsuit from Eon-Net against Flagstar Bancorp might pose trouble for Lodsys in its own attempts to skim royalties. Discovered today, a ruling late last month hit Eon-Net with Rule 11 sanctions for conducting what was cast as "extortion" through its practices. The company had submitted over 100 infringement lawsuits but each time gave the targets a settlement that would be cheaper than defending the case, effectively forcing companies to pay.
Apple counters Lodsys in new intervention call
Apple on Monday countered Lodsys' resistance to intervention with a final argument of its own. A call for a court hearing argued multiple points, focusing most on the importance of the patent license covering in-app purchases. It argued that the license itself was enough interest to require an intervention and that it had a clear business motivation to get involved: developers were considering boycotting "core products" because they didn't want to be sued.
RightNow wants new declaratory judgment vs Lodsys
Customer experience developer RightNow took Lodsys to task on Thursday after it quietly moved for a new declaratory judgment (below) to invalidate the company's patents. The motion would have the Eastern District of Wisconsin-based court rule that RightNow's chat support system, as well as customers like Bass Pro, not only aren't violating four of Lodsys' key patents but that the patents themselves are untenable. Lodsys has been 'threatening' all of RightNow's customers with boilerplate infringement claims, RightNow said.
'Appsterdam' team compensates for defense gaps
A new group has been organized to defend fellow independent app developers against Lodsys' patent lawsuits, as well as cases brought by other alleged patent trolls. Dubbed the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team, the group is the creation of developer Mike Lee. Initial help includes Michael McCoy, an intellectual property attorney licensed in California.
Lodsys tries to stop Apple intervention in case
Lodsys hoped to reduce resistance to its lawsuit on Wednesday and filed an opposition to Apple's motion to intervene. The 22-page reply, some of which is redacted for public viewing to protect confidential info, maintains that Apple's licensing of Lodsys patents would limit its scope for acting on behalf of others. It goes on to claim that Apple's reason to fight back is "purely economic" at most and that the reduced profits or losses for third-party developers didn't meet the legal threshold for stepping into the case.
Lodsys expands to target major game developers
Lodsys continued its rapidly widening lawsuit campaign Thursday by trying its hand at attacking major game developers. A larger complaint (below) now adds Atari, EA, Rovio, Square Enix, and Take Two over in-app purchases in their mobile games. The expansion singles out major games and isn't limited to just iPad and iPhone titles, going so far as to target Rovio's versions of Angry Birds for both Android and iOS.
Says 'elicited perception' important factor
Lodsys is now claiming that its patents cover cross-promotional links in apps, not just in-app purchases, according to one developer. The creator of iFighter 1945, EpicForce, remarks that several weeks ago, it received a letter stating that a "Get Full Version" link in the game violates a Lodsys patent. "The 'Get Full Version' link is actually for the purchase of Super Laser: The Alien Fighter," EpicForce writes. "This is just a 'cross promotion' and I think almost every developer is doing it. It's neither an In-App purchase nor a 'Lite to Full' conversion."
Lodsys sends warnings to more Android devs
Lodsys pulled its attention back over to Android this weekend as multiple Android app developers reported getting notices of alleged infringement. Noble Master Games received one for in-app purchases in its Age of Conquest series. The patent holder has even begun sending notices without verifying its complaints, Droid Gamers saw, and sent a notice to the Trese Brothers regarding Star Traders by mistake.
Campaign against Android developers continues
(Updated with refiling news) Patent holder Lodsys has asked a Texas court for an extra two months in order to respond to Apple's motion to intervene, according to new documents. Without the filing Lodsys would have had to respond by June 27th, but may soon have until the end of August 27th. The company writes that it is not looking to delay proceedings, and has in fact "conferred with counsel for Apple and Apple does not oppose the relief requested herein."
Article One pays if Lodsys patents ruled invalid
Lodsys faced added pressure Wednesday after Article One Partners started up a trio of bounties (one, two, three) against its patents. Anyone who successfully finds an instance of prior art or otherwise shows a given patent is likely invalid will be paid $5,000 for the work. The effort is part of a regular campaign that has targeted other questionable patent holders, such as MacroSolve, and was meant to help developers and others that didn't have the resources to defend against a patent troll campaign.
NYT and OpinionLab want Lodsys patents invalidated
Lodsys faced the consequences of its actions again Monday after the New York Times Company and OpinionLab both sued Lodsys (below) to invalidate its patents. Similar to the lawsuit from ForeSee, both of the plaintiffs are seeking a declaratory judgment that would at least absolve them of guilt and also nullify the patents themselves. OpinionLab's complaint alleged that Lodsys was violating Illinois fair competition laws and was committing tortious interference by scaring investors away.
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.
Apple files motion to intervene vs Lodsys
Apple stepped into Lodsys' lawsuit against developers by filing a motion to intervene (below) on Thursday. The request reflects Apple's earlier letter and argues that the terms of its developer agreements cover the licensing for the patents. It pointed out that many iPhone and Mac app writers simply couldn't know about the patent licensing deal or have the cash to defend themselves, a weakness which many have accused Lodsys of exploiting.
May affect prospects for app developers
A Michigan company, ForeSee Results, has submitted a declaratory judgment lawsuit which could potentially render four Lodsys patents invalid. The latter outfit has sent letters to a number of technology companies, asserting a need for patent licenses. Lodsys made headlines recently by suing some mobile app developers over in-app purchases. ForeSee has not been sued, but is rather taking preemptive action on behalf of clients which have received assertion letters.
Lodsys aims at Android while Google silent
Developers have reported that patent holding firm Lodsys is also targeting Android apps. Those who've used the new Android in-app purchasing have been sent the same letters claiming that they infringe on patents. As with the iOS cases, the notices are focusing on smaller developers that would be less likely to have a chance of fighting back.
Says developers under umbrella protection
Following up on its investigations, Apple has sent a letter to Lodsys asking that the company stop demanding patent licenses from iOS developers. Lodsys has claimed that by supporting in-app purchases, developers are in violation of patents it owns. In a series of blog posts, the firm further charged that while Apple is licensed for in-app purchase technology, its "pixie dust" does not extend to developers.
Patent holder suing over in-app purchase system
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called on Apple to defend iOS developers against several "patent troll" lawsuits aimed at technology used for in-app purchases. The group accuses the patent holder, Lodsys, of threatening developers for using an in-app purchase system that is mandated by the iOS terms, rather than pursuing a case directly against Apple.
Developers passing along claims in bid for help
Apple's legal department is "actively investigating" patent claims made against iOS developers by Lodsys, says The Guardian. The UK newspaper notes that "about a dozen" developers have been served with papers so far. At least some of the companies have reportedly passed along Lodsys' complaints to Apple. The latter should respond to the issue later this week, the Guardian writes.
Says Apple 'pixie dust' no protection for devs
Lodsys, the company threatening to sue some iOS developers over in-app purchases, has made a series of blog posts attempting to defend its actions. Regarding why it is targeting developers instead of Apple -- the company responsible for creating iOS' in-app purchase technology -- Lodsys downplays Apple's role. "The economic gains provided by the Lodsys inventions (increase in revenue through additional sales, or decrease in costs to service the customer) are being enjoyed by the business that provides the product or service that interacts with the user," it writes. "Since Lodsys patent rights are of value to that overall solution, it is only fair to get paid by the party that is accountable for the entire solution and which captures the value (rather than a technology supplier or a retailer)."