Lately, it seems like news about patent lawsuits and bullying is worse than most Hollywood gossip. Frankly, most of the suits are about as justified as Hollywood gossip, if not less. Nevertheless, there are bright spots - such as when the big dogs step up alongside developers to help fight back the patent trolls. Such happened yesterday, when it was revealed that Google has joined Apple in the fight against patent troll Lodsys' claims against developers.
In a decision with potentially far-reaching consequences, a German court handed down a preliminary injunction halting all distribution of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the European Union today, after a motion was filed by Apple for just such an order.
The suit in question is over nine patents, most of which relate to broad smartphone functions and concepts. The patents are so broad that Apple sued Nokia over them (yes, the exact same nine patents) last year in the same German court, and that suit ended in a settlement widely presumed to be a victory for Apple.
Well, it seems Lodsys has gotten a lot more gravitas in the last few months due to the success of its patent-trolling efforts. The company's legal reps have amended a complaint filed in the Eastern District of Texas (also known as the "rocket docket" district for the speediness and plaintiff-friendliness of its trials), and it's a doozy.
From Lodsys's Complaint
Lodsys has sued Rovio over Angry Birds for Android (and iPhone), along with Electronic Arts (EA), Atari, Square Enix, and Take-Two Interactive - and many others (37 total, in fact).
Update: Cory Trese's infringement notice was apparently sent to him by mistake - whatever that means. He received a call from Lodsys stating they'd like all the materials they sent returned. What's happened? Who knows, but as someone in our team chat room sarcastically stated - maybe they forgot a zero somewhere.
This isn't a friendly letter.
Update 3: ZodTTD, developer of several well-known emulators, recently met a similar fate as yongzh - both his Market account and his apps were removed. Today, he decided to clarify a few things in a blog post, noting that the removal of the apps was not due to an open source violation but rather came as a result of a trademark infringement letter from Sony to Google concerning PSX4Droid's icon.
You've all probably heard bits and pieces of news about a company called Lodsys in the last couple of weeks, (they've been "patent trolling" iOS app developers) even if you don't really keep up on all things fruit-related. If you're not familiar with the story, let me give you a quick rundown.
Lodsys is what we affectionately refer to as a "patent troll" - a company that buys up promising and often vague or [overly] broad patents in a hope of using them to threaten to sue the pants off people that they know might be infringing on them.
The PayPal and Google lawsuit is just another one of Google's seemingly endless big-name legal tangles over the last couple of years. Why is Google litigation such a frequent topic?
At least in part, it's because Google has one of the most aggressive stances towards litigation of any member of the tech industry. Google's reputation for taking its battles to court has become almost notorious (well, except for the "Buzz" incident) - regardless of cost or, sometimes, likelihood of victory.
Yesterday, in the Federal Court for the Northern District of California, Apple filed its response to a counterclaim (filed by Amazon) in its ongoing suit over Amazon's use of the word "Appstore" in its new Android... app store (what else am I supposed to call it, Apple? An app acquisition service?)
The counterclaim contained one of the single greatest premises for a trademark lawsuit I have ever seen (not that I've seen that many):
File this under "things that look good on paper." On Tuesday, a federal judge for the Northern District of California issued an order forcing Oracle and Google, in their fight over various Java patents allegedly infringed by Android, to reduce the number of patent claims and defenses thereto to a "triable" number. That number? Three. And Google will be allowed eight "prior art references" to defend against those claims. (Note: A "prior art reference" is a way of showing that a patent was trying to patent something someone else had already invented prior to the filing, a complete defense against patent infringement, invalidating the patent in question)
Oracle's complaint ended up amounting to 132 patent claims against Google's Android mobile operating system - a staggering number for any court.
Amazon's upcoming Android Market competitor, the Amazon Appstore, is in hot water for its namesake. On Monday, Apple filed a lawsuit in a California federal court claiming Amazon had infringed on its trademark of the phrase "App Store." Apple applied for a trademark to this name way back in 2008, but it wasn't approved until January of 2010. Since then, Microsoft has filed a dispute with the trademark office alleging that the grant was improper.