patent_trollThe beat goes on for primo patent troll Lodsys. Apple’s attempt to intervene in a concerted clipping of iOS developers failed after a patent-owner friendly judge dismissed the tech giant’s legal motion. U.S. District Judge Rodney Gilstrap in East Texas ruled Apple’s motion “is far outside the scope” of his courtroom.

The decision effectively opens the door to Lodsys settling all cases with defendants, thereby ending a 2011 effort by Apple to shield hundreds of thousands of individual iOS developers from being sued for patent-infringement by Lodsys…

The iPhone maker argued that its technology license also covered use by developers. In its mostly sealed arguments, Apple charged the patent trolls’ claims against numerous developers were “substantially identical” to Apple technology.

Instead, Lodsys carried out a practice of going after developers, then settling cases “quickly and cheaply,” according to Apple. Instead of recognizing the broader issue of patent trolls depressing the technology market, the judge ruled the case moot. In equating developers with defendants Gilstrap noted Lodsys had already settled with the seven named defendants.

The ruling reads:

Thus, even assuming that all the named defendants had not been dismissed from the case and Apple’s claim proceeded to trial, any judgment subsequently rendered would be limited in scope to those named defendants, and not, as Apple urges, apply to all Apple developers.

Just between April and May, Lodsys filed 20 lawsuits against both iOS and Android developers. Because “there are more than 6 million developers of iOS-based apps, the potential number of such claims is virtually limitless,” Apple charged in the motion.

“A claim covering six million unnamed app developers is far outside the scope of the instant action,” the judge countered, suggesting the tech giant directly sue the troll.

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Martha Stewart is doing just that.

See, Lodsys wants Martha Stewart Living Omni Media to pony up $20,000, or $5,000 for each iPad app. In response, Stewart hit Lodsys CEO Mark Small where he lives: Wisconsin. This could be a smart tactic, given Lodsys HQ is in Marshall, Texas, home of courts that never saw a patent claim they didn’t like.

One might think $20,000 is just a mosquito to corporations – and that is the business plan for trolls such as Lodsys. Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Daniel Nazer wrote in an amicus brief:

Lodsys’s pattern of sending out demand letters, suing a seemingly random sampling of app developers and then settling with those app developers, promises that those developers’ claims of a right to use the technology in question will never be heard.

Indeed, with even a one-week patent trial costing upwards of $1 million, throwing a few thousand dollars at Lodsys makes perfect business sense, reasons Ars Technica.

In an intriguing history lesson about the Eastern District of Texas courts, Gilstrap replaced patent-friendly federal judge T. John Ward.

The other U.S. District judge handling patent cases for that area?

Well, that’s U.S. District Judge Leonard Davis, who’s son William “Bo” Davis is a Lodsys lawyer.

  • What are they suing for? Apple/Google stole some patented API of theirs?

    • Rowan09

      I believe they are suing developers and Apple and Google stepped up to support the developers. This case has been going on for a while now.

    • iOops

      They are being sued for in-app purchase support in iOS and Android apps. Apple and Google both have broad licenses for this tech, which extend to the developers, but Lodsys is ignoring this fact and us suing each developer that uses this tech. Apple and google is in their right to defend the developers as their licenses cover their use of iAPP, but the judge is a bias prick which should be thrown off the bench for conflict of interest..

  • Core

    i dont know whats the point of sueing because of a patent that you havent even turned into a working product. its not like your losing money

    • Nate McKelvie

      The point is to make money without ever creaking a product. It’s lazy and kinda scandalous, but it is good business for the company doing it. They know it’s easier and cheaper for the company they file suit against to just settle out of court for like $20,000 than to spend millions fighting the case. So even if they win they lose more than just paying the $20,000. And say they get 50 developers to pay $20,000 they just earned 1 million dollars without doing anything but sending out letters

      • Precisely. In other words, the patent system is broken!

      • Rowan09

        The patent system been broken, that’s why Mark Cuban especially hates patent cases. People can file for a patent on anything now-a-days.

      • Yeah, sooner or later, some dingbat is gonna patent air…

      • Nate McKelvie

        Yes it’s very broken.

  • kayla

    Everyone wants a cut of Apple’s money.

  • Taf Khan

    Kill the troll that is Lodsys.

    What’s with the courts in Texas anyway? The judge has a brother who is a Lodsys lawyer? That’s messed up justice. Talk about keeping it in the family…

  • Yujin

    Hope this company is on the government’s hit list, which was announced a few days ago.

  • JaeM1llz

    There’s a simple way to stop these frivolous patent lawsuits. Simply require that the loser of the lawsuit pay the winner’s court fees. Right now, each party has to pay their own way so it makes more sense for the developers to pay a few grand for their own license rather than rack up millions in court costs. If they did this, these sort of lawsuits would never even surface.

  • What’s funny is that Apple it the patent troll themselves. Hypocrisy!!

    • NEWYORKMINUTE10

      I agree with you and the apple fans think that Apple is the god

    • Nate McKelvie

      Yes apple is kind of a patent troll themselves, just like any major corporation today in the tech industry, but at least apple/google/etc. actually make their money actually selling products

  • NEWYORKMINUTE10

    Judge stops Apple patent troll