10
Aug
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Lodsys, the king troll of all patent trolls, has been attacking developers of both Android and iOS apps for a few months now (yeah, even Rovio) with their claims of owning a patent to the free->paid upgrade process using in-app purchases.

Their latest victim is Bithack, the developer of Apparatus. Yup, the same Bithack who raised hell about the Amazon Appstore last month and whose game is currently averaging 4.6 stars in the Market. Lodsys is not currently suing them, but did sent a heap of documents with patent license requests, looking for a quick settlement rather than going to court.

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I'm not going to repeat arguments against Lodsys and the software patent system in general - David's already done a good job doing it (and don't forget Florian Mueller with his FOSS Patents blog), but I will post the documents Lodsys sent Bithack, which highlight the exact nature of one of their claims. Oh, and the in-app purchase situation in Apparatus - a link to the Android Market where a full version can be purchased.

This kind of frivolous behavior makes my blood boil - if this is not the perfect case for reforming software patents, I don't know what is. Now you tell me - have you seen anything more ridiculous lately? (Oh wait, you kind of have - ah, the irony of Apple patent trolling and going after Android manufacturers while getting patent trolled by Lodsys):

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lodsys1_Page_3 lodsys1_Page_4

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Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • http://kennydude.me Joe Simpson

    Right, so they should be notified about parts relating to Android Market? I hope a patent reform comes soon! :D

  • Matt

    Software patents is just wrong

  • John J

    Why, in the 2nd-to-last picture, do they spell it "interacti0n" with a zero?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      Noticed that too - they were in such a hurry to send the documents, they mistyped. Or somebody already owns a trademark/patent on the word "interaction." :P

    • http://www.droidgamers.com ExtremeT

      Because they are elite like that

    • Paul

      Because the word "Interaction" is probably copyrighted!

    • Luck Fodsys

      Because they're l337 in that way.

  • Ryan

    WTF? They are claiming Bithack infringed on the patent but half of their pictures are of the Android Market.

    Too scared to take on Google?

    • Luck Fodsys

      I'm not sure I'd use the word "scared", maybe more "testing the waters", or simply trying to put a stink on things in general. It's certain that if Lodsys actually thought their claims were valid, they'd be going after Google instead of picking on a tiny developer. Lodsys' business address is the same as that of Omega Research LLC, and Omega has had direct dealings with Intellectual Ventures. IV is known to operate through various front-end companies to bully and intimidate companies without actually having their name tied to any of the bullying. All of these shady characters are up to something besides trying to extort money out of one-person development shops. I can't figure out exactly what it is though.

      • http://mgamerzproductions.blogspot.com Mgamerz

        We should get anonymous to take their ass down

    • cosmic

      Pretty sure Google already licensed from them. In fact I believe Google and Apple both have and were under the impression it would protect developers in their market.

  • Adrian Lorenzana

    That was the single stupidest thing I have ever read in my entire life (the patent documents of course, not the article).

  • m bayer

    So, according to their logic, they can sue any website or app that incorporates an "OK" button...

    • Pissed off in Canada

      They will have to share their licensing fee with Apple, who owns the patent on the button itself.

  • Zebov

    Google better step up to the plate. Lots of people/companies under the android banner being sued. Soon, no one will want to develop for the sole reason of not being able to afford legal help and/or having too many things they can't do due to patents.

    • http://schpydurx.livejournal.com ProfessorTom

      But Google is kind and benevolent and only asks that you fend for yourself in exchange for using their software for free.

  • http://www.slipshft.com Slipshft

    Hmm, I think they are on to something. They need an ID-10-T form sent to them.

  • Elvis

    Well.... I dreamed about thinking about pondering about patenting those ideas... GIMME MONIES!!!!!!"

  • stevebuscemi

    Came here from Florian's site. Don't think I'll visit again.

    I don't care what side you're on or whether you think their claims have merit, classifying Apple's ongoing patent war with Samsung, Motorola et al. as "patent trolling" on par with Lodsys, a company that ships no products is unprofessional fandroid BS usually reserved for Engadget comments section.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      The level of BS in what both Apple and Lodsys are doing is above my mark of acceptable, so yes, while I'm going to equate both of them, they are both patent trolls in my book. This is a fan site, as you mentioned, not WSJ, and this is my opinion.

      • stevebuscemi

        There is a huge difference between one billion dollar company claiming another billion dollar company's products infringe their own, and a patent troll whose sole business & revenue stream consists of threats, litigation, and licensing on dubious patent suing devs, many of which are small indie shops or solo endeavours making very little money, sometimes solely off ad revenue, and many of which develop for both Android and iOS.

        Apple stepping in on their behalf is a good thing, for both Android and iOS alike. As a developer who has at times faced financial trouble, I find the fact that you seem to take glee in the fact that Apple are simultaneously attacking Samsung while defending their developers against Lodsys quite apalling, Android fan site or not.

        • http://lavadip.com HRJ

          What kind of argument is that? If you are a billion dollar organisation, it's all fine to go sue your competitors with silly patents?! If anything, shouldn't a billion dollar company be more responsible in its actions and spend more time and money on R&D?

          And Apple intervening to protect iOS developers is fine. What is hypocritical is they suing others based on similar silly patents.

      • http://GrantGarrison.com OMGrant

        Even though I tend to agree with Artem, I do have to say there is a big difference here. As they say "Use it or loose it" Apple is fighting for patents they've invented, and without doing so they loose the right to. Lodsys on the other hand...

        • http://mgamerzproductions.blogspot.com Mgamerz

          You can't invent software and not expect people to unknowingly code something similar.
          That would be like if I patented public static void main(string[] args). Pretty much kills anyone using it.

        • cosmic

          WRONG!
          Unlike copyrights, you do not have to enforce a patent. Otherwise we would not have seen Oracle sue Google over patents that Sun did not enforce. As long as you do not encourage or promote the use of your patents, you can safely sit back with them ready to pounce.

        • http://GrantGarrison.com OMGrant

          I think you guys gave more weight to of my comment than it deserved.
          - Mgamerz, you're arguing against what Lodsys is doing, my comment was on Apple.

      • Alan

        Agreed, Trollodsys is really starting to annoy me.

    • http://schpydurx.livejournal.com ProfessorTom

      +10

      +100 if you are the Steve Buscemi

  • joe

    Im confused. They are saying that they have a patent on a link in an app to a website? I don't see how his link is any different than a link that you might see from admob. Also, would they not claim a patent infringement if the link went to a free app?

  • Arsal

    This is actually pretty relevant I haven't read it all but I don't think patent reform is coming anytime soon. This American Life did a good show on "when patents attack" they talk about Lloyds a bit too

  • usuck

    Loading an URL in a web browser is not storing and sending results to a central location.

    Loading an URL in a web browser is RECEIVING information from a central location.

    The communication, user interaction, storing and collecting results are all happening between a web browser/server which are not part of the app. The app isn't even running at that point. Clearly Lodsys are idiots that don't know how apps are written.