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?

  1. Oracle wants all four patents to be done for, not just two.
  2. 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

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.

  • David Stallard

    Can't wait - about time patent trolls like Lodsys got what's coming to them! I hope Oracle absolutely wipe the floor with them. It won't help fix the patent system but hopefully Lodsys will get spanked so badly that other patent trolls will think twice before hitting up developers for licensing fees they expect for bogus patents.

  • Maxime

    Righting a few wrongs, not writing a few wrongs.

  • Aatif Sumar

    "Oracle decided to get some karma back by writing a few wrongs. "*righting

    • Guest

      Lol English is obviously not your native language... 

      • Chris Lambert

        He is right...

        • Steve Freeman

          What would you write them and say? No, it's "righting". As in, putting something right side up.

      • AppleFUD

        face palm!!!

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

      Whoops, midnight typoed that one. I even remember writing "writing" but for some reason it didn't click until you just said it.

  • Adam

    Go Oracle!

    • Chris Lambert

      Or Goracle for short?

      • Alireza Farmad

        Gooracle, shorter ;)

        • John O’Connor

          that's not any shorter ;-)

  • Jeff B

    Oracle is only doing this to protect apple.

    • http://www.halfey.me/ Halfey Halphstein


      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZLOTEIADMVYKDQXQBWAO6P7XRQ Jim


    • Zomby2D

      As long as we all benefit from this, I don't care about their initial motive.

  • Brandon

    Never thought I'd cheer for Oracle but the day has come. Sic'em Oracle!

  • Me

    Oracle is not going to get damages
    from a patent troll you rube. Why do you think this business model is so effective, trolls risk nothing by suing....in the U.S. legal system the loser doesn't pay...treble danages LOL Likewise it seems unlikely that Oracle just decided to charge in and save the day, more likely that they just got jurisdiction for the DJ action and are trying to keep themselves out of a plaintiff friendly court by firing first.

    • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

      While it's being said badly, there is a valid point here. The entire design of patent warehousing/shell companies like Lodsys exist as a buffer (both financially and for publicity).  The company basically owns nothing other than the patent.  Any money accrued from settlements and lawsuits is just passed up the ladder to the parent company.  If Oracle sues Lodsys and tries to claim damages (assuming they win), Lodsys is either disolved or files for bankruptcy.  Once Lodsys plays their get-outta-jail-free cards, Oracle would be chasing a paper trail for years as they try to get money from the parent company (which is probably protected by several layers of bogus companies that exist for exactly this reason).

      As for the legal fees, I believe he's right about that one too.  However, I think I've heard of exceptions that allow for a plaintif to ask for legal fees when they are counter-suing in place of a defendant.  It seems like a long shot, but this might count.  Disclaimer: I'm FAR from an expert, I've only read mentions of this in other articles and I'm not sure what the stipulations/requirements/etc are.  I'm not even sure I've remembered correctly or that I necessary understood what I read in the first place.

    • http://twitter.com/Telanis_ Telanis

      You could at least Google before calling someone ignorant.  In this case, even Wikipedia knows more about this than you do.  

  • Droidfan

    One patent troll pursing another patent troll.   Win/Win situation.  In a perfect world, this fight would take both of them down.

    • Alex1x

      As exciting the verdict was Google vs Oracle, I don't think Oracle is a patent troll. Oracle has actual products using their own patents vs Lodsys got no intention for their patents but lawsuits.

      • Droidfan

        But in the case of purchasing Sun...Oracle's primary motivation was to take a great big bite out of Android.  They hadn't owned the patents of Sun very long before they filed their case.  

        • Alex1x

          Your right, in this specific case Oracle did try and twist free java into $. But in general, Oracle is nothing compared to lodsys. Oracle, Google/Motorola, Apple, MS are in the same boat. Lodsys is an entire different lawsuit category.