What an interesting turn of events - Oracle just sued a notorious patent troll Lodsys, seeking invalidation of four of Lodsys' patents. In fact, these are all the patents Lodsys owns - if Oracle wins, Lodsys will have nothing to threaten innocent developers with.
If you haven't been following the Lodsys drama for the past year+, let me step back for a brief history lesson. Lodsys LLC, a Texas patent troll shell corporation, has been harassing various developers since early 2011, including many with Android apps in the Play Store. The patents Lodsys used to threaten Android developers, large and small, are 7,222,078, to which everyone refers to as simply "078" and 7,620,565 ("565").
Lodsys didn't sue most of them right off the bat and instead sent settlement offers hoping for quick agreements rather than resistance. Unfortunately, many developers gave in, considering the amounts Lodsys asked weren't all that large whereas potential legal fees were.
Eventually, Google heard its developers' pleas and filed a report for reexamination in August of 2011 seeking to invalidate two patents: "078" and "565". If these patents were indeed found invalid, Lodsys' case would fall apart. Unfortunately, reexamination can take a really long time, at which point all sued parties may be already forced to settle. The move was weak and unaggressive.
In comes Oracle to save the day, like a prince in shining
armor limousine. After a total and complete defeat in the case against Google and Android, Oracle decided to get some karma back by righting a few wrongs. You see, Lodsys has now gone after some of Oracle's customers, and Oracle isn't amused. The company filed a lawsuit against Lodsys and is now trying to make sure that all of Lodsys' patents are invalidated. Don't get me wrong - I don't for a second doubt that this move is all about money, but the end result might benefit everyone involved in the Lodsys drama (except for Lodsys itself, of course).
The difference between this and Google's earlier request?
- Oracle wants all four patents to be done for, not just two.
- This time it's a lawsuit and not a patent reexamination, which means Lodsys may be liable for damages, legal fees, and other costs Oracle will try to have them slapped with. As Groklaw points out:
It seems that Lodsys has been going after Oracle customers, and they in turn have been asking Oracle to indemnify them. Lodsys, methinks, has made a mistake. One doesn't go after Oracle's money. No. No. Never a good plan. I suspect Oracle will go for damages, tripled, and all their expenses, legal fees, etc. when this is over. That's what that long list of prior art is saying to me, that it's war. Also, note that DLA Piper US is also on the case. That's another signal that Oracle intends to prevail, all other things being equal. When you have to add "US" to your law firm name, it's because you are global.
So, for Lodsys, there's no place to run, change its name, put on a hat and mustache, anywhere on earth to get away from DLA Piper.
I, for one, am grabbing an extra large popcorn for this one.
More info and the text of the lawsuit: Groklaw