05
Jun
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About two years ago, we reported that one of the most recognized patent trolls around, Lodsys LLC, had sued game maker Rovio over Angry Birds for Android, claiming that the defendant had "infringed and continues to infringe" on patents controlled by Lodsys.

If you're not up to snuff on your patent troll bestiary, Lodsys is a company that produces no real goods or services, but holds plenty of patents that they are willing to either license or use for legal action.

As David correctly pointed out at the time, Lodsys suit said less for Lodsys' actual claim to the patents they sued over, and more for their overall strategy of intimidation and unsavory utilization of the patent system.

Since the original suit, though, things have been fairly quiet. Yesterday, in an unexpected turn of events, Lodsys published an eighteen-word blog post simply titled "Rovio," which said the following.

Rovio has taken a license to the Lodsys Group portfolio for all of its products, on all platforms.

Yes, Lodsys is essentially saying Rovio has capitulated by taking licenses for all its products, across all platforms. Whether Rovio is among the "more than 4 out of 5" entities who, according to Lodsys, have decided to enter licensing not as a direct result of legal action is unclear.

At the time of the original suit, Lodsys had sued plenty of other names including Electronic Arts, Atari, Square Enix, and more, going after nearly 40 entities in total, and antagonizing other developers – independent and otherwise – since before the Rovio suit.

We were hopeful when, in August 2011, Google filed for reexamination of the patents Lodsys claimed against many developers (specifically involved with in-app purchasing), but as Lodsys itself reported in 2012, the USPTO ended up confirming Lodsys' claim on the patent ('078).

So far, Rovio appears to be the only major developer we've seen going ahead and licensing with Lodsys, and that's what makes Lodsys' statement interesting.

Does this give the patent troll everyone loves to hate any more credibility? Not really, but they are persistent, and while the US President's recent proposals on the issue of patent trolling at least sound good, change cannot come soon enough.

Source: Lodsys

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • Bas

    Sick patent trolls. Go back to your cave.

  • Greyhame

    If a company with Rovio's resources can't stand up to these trolls, how could any independent developer. For shame, Lodsys.

  • Gargamel

    Lodsys bought patents for good money and they have every right to get paid when another company uses these patents. Don't see what's wrong with that. I know we all expect to get everything for free these days (but obviously get paid for everything WE do), but this is not reality.
    One thing that could be said is about what kind of patents are being granted and if it makes sense to grant a patent for a square phone or the "App Store" name. That's the big question. But once the patent is granted- a company has to pay to use it. It's just fair.

    • http://hqraja.com/ Haroon Q. Raja

      That is far from being ethically right. A patent is supposed to keep others from replicating your invention. If you simply purchase patents to inventions by others without ever planning on developing the products themselves, only to be able to keep others from developing and selling those products unless they pay you a licensing fee, you're nothing but a lousy, good-for-nothing leech that's contributing nothing positive to the society and living off others like a parasite. If you find that 'just fair', I'd say your username choice reflects the condition of your moral compass really well.

      And no, it has nothing to do with anyone expecting to get everything for free and get paid for everything they do.

      • Gargamel

        Sorry, but I think that you are missing the full picture. An inventor has every right to monetize her invention, either by developing a product and trying to sell it, or by just selling the rights to the invention. invention, and the patent associated to it, are assets and the inventor has the right to sell the asset that she created.
        Also, sometimes the original inventor and patent holder does not have the resources to defend her patent in court- selling the patent is one of the only alternatives in this case.
        Another example is thinking about it like leasing - the inventor receives and upfront payment and the "troll" collects the "interest" throughout the years.

        Anyway, it seems like I'm defending here the right of any person to transfer any assets that she has - be it an life insurance policy or a patent.

        • MaybeTomorrow

          Actually Gargamel, it would appear you have it wrong. Because an inventor creates something, does not automatically mean they should get paid. A common and seriously flawed assumption common among patent maximalists. In a free market that inventor should put something into the market whether it is patent or product. People will buy or not. If someone out there comes up with another product that fills the function, then congratulations should come. The products that sell puts the money into the pockets of the successful inventor. In today's new world, it has never been easier for the little guy to put it out there. The global economy and the global shipping means markets are world wide. You can talk all about saving the little guy but the only people wining the patent wars are the lawyers and companies with deep pockets.

    • duse

      No, it should be illegal for NPEs to sue with patents, and frankly, to sell patents at all. Patents are meant to protect the original inventor. They shouldn't be an asset that can just be sold off and used in court by anyone. Independent devs now have to avoid using in-app billing or worry about being targeted by these guys, over something that shouldn't be patentable in the first place - "click a button, receive credit, use credit for items"? - ridiculous.

    • TimTheK

      Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 of the United States Constitution, known as the Copyright Clause, empowers the United States Congress:

      "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

      To summarize:
      "To promote the progress" - These trolls actually stifle innovation and progress.

      "to Authors and Inventors" - Not to non-practicing entities for the purpose of running shakedowns.

  • Frank Bales

    Legal blackmail. What you get when the patent system fails (seems to do that a lot).

  • fonix232

    This is simply getting ridiculous. The patent systems should be changed radically, on each market, more unified, hell I wouldn't even mind if the core was the same (and extra additions for local laws requirements).

    But one is for sure: one should not have rights to a patent if he/she did not put the technology on the market, nor intends to do so. Meaning - if you just bought a patent, you do not have rights to use it. Even selling patents should be illegal, the original owner should be able to sell (and give away) licenses as they wish, but selling the ownership of the patent is a no-go in my eye.

  • Annoyed

    All these big companies get sued and no one can sue this annoying, slimey ball of cr*p out of existence? They should at least band together and force Lodsys back under the bridge it crawled out from