A little over a year ago, a patent licensing company by the name of Lodsys started going after app developers with its claimed in-app purchasing patents, threatening legal action if they didn’t agree to licensing deals.
The company went on to file infringement suits against a handful of developers, and eventually Apple got involved. And we haven’t really heard anything since then, until today, when Lodsys published a new blog post…
Actually, Lodsys has published a couple of new blog posts recently, updating the web on the current status of its litigation. For starters, it appears that the company has benefited from Google’s reexamination request:
As a part of the Inter-Parties Reexamination requested by Google, the USPTO recently issued an Office Action confirming Claim 24 of US Patent 7,222,078. This claim is particularly relevant regarding in-app purchases and free-to-paid application upgrades. In addition, we have every confidence that all claims will ultimately be confirmed through this lengthy process. In-app purchase features and free-to-paid upgrades will be a part of the litigation process that is now swiftly moving forward.”
So essentially, it’s saying that the United States Patent and Trademark Office has confirmed the validity of some of its key patents, virtually eliminating the possibility that anyone could prove that the patents are invalid.
It goes on to say that Apple was granted permission to intervene in the litigation on behalf of the developers, but only to try and prove that its current deal with Lodsys covers its devs. A trial has been scheduled for early 2013.
As for Lodsys’ plan to force app-makers into licensing their patents, it seems to be working. In its most recent blog post, the company says that more than 150 developers have agreed to licensing terms — 80% without litigation.
“As of October 8, 2012, there are greater than 150 companies which obtained the rights to use the Lodsys Group patent portfolio, and more than 4 out of 5 of these companies have entered into licenses outside of the litigation process. These companies have realized significant savings by taking advantage of lower licensing rates.”
A lot of anger has been directed at Lodsys over the past year due to these developer lawsuits. After all, it did purchase these patents with the intention of using them to force devs into paying them licensing fees. Total patent troll right?
Remember, though, that the same patent system that is allowing this to happen is the same one that allows Apple to sue other companies, and vice versa. So does the old saying, “don’t hate the player, hate the game” fit here? Maybe.
What’s your take on this whole situation?