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.
Artist's rendering of Lodsys.
For the uninitiated, Lodsys is a company that does nothing but hold patents for the purpose of licensing them. They produce no goods and offer no real services, and their patents are purchased from others - meaning they contribute nothing to the process. Read More
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. Read More
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.
I don't know all that much about German intellectual property law, or the German standard for issuing preliminary injunctions, but I can tell you one thing: this would almost certainly never happen in a U.S. Read More
When Google's General Counsel, David Drummond, posted the first real public response by the search giant to the intellectual property war being waged on Android, the techblogosphere just about peed their collective pants in excitement. Everyone loves a good flame war, it's true. Google called out Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle - by name - publicly. It doesn't get much better than that.
Unfortunately, this probably isn't going to help Google's ongoing battles with those companies, and it's not going to help the company's public image, either. Google isn't a tech startup anymore, they're a multinational corporation. And we need to start looking at them that way, especially when it comes to lawsuits. Read More
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). The latter publishers were all sued for iPhone games.
This, in our book, says little for Lodsys's credibility. Read More
Android's latest indirect legal tussle to come to a head, a patent suit between HTC and Apple, was ruled on last week by the US ITC (Court of International Trade) - finding the Taiwanese manufacture liable for two counts of patent infringement. This news has spread like wildfire through every corner of the tech blog world. But is there really anything that's changed right now (or even in the near future) because of the outcome of this suit? Not really, no. Even the long-term, worst-case-scenario implications aren't exactly terrifying - and here's why.
As many sites have pointed out, HTC has vowed to appeal the ruling of the ITC. Read More
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. Let me say that again - they find a patent, find out how many people might be infringing it, and then decide to buy it. Read More
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. Read More
Well, not solely for Android and Chrome - but presumably those products are the headliners affected by this patent bid. Google is currently bidding on a collection of over 6,000 patents held by Nortel Networks, which is selling the portfolio as part of bankruptcy proceedings. Google tossed its name in the hat with an initial offering of $900,000,000 - not exactly chump change.
Many of the patents relate to wireless technology (such as LTE) and data networking, but undoubtedly Google found some of them to be in the particular interest of protecting Android and Chrome, as Google's General Counsel indicted on the company's blog. Read More
Update: In response to the ZDNet article, it seems like Mueller may well have been incorrect about the "additional instances" of possible infringement he claims to have found. Exhibit J (linked as "6 pages of code") from Oracle's amended complaint is not addressed in the ZDNet article. We make no claims as to the validity of Oracle or Mueller's assertion; we are merely commenting on the situation.
Many people are confused about what it is Mueller is saying about copyrighted code, and it's an understandably complex topic, one I don't claim to fully comprehend. Those who offer evidence that "debunks" Mueller's additional files clearly know a lot more about code than I do. Read More