Remember Lodsys? The small LLC that basically invented the term ‘patent troll’ made news in 2011 when it started going after App Store developers for infringing on obscure, abstract patent filings. It sued small app developers for outrageous amounts because it claimed to own the definitive patents on in-app purchases and the general concept of an upgrade button.
The issue with Lodsys was that its sole business was buying up patents in bulk and using them to sue the pants off devs. Many devs don’t have the resources to finance a legal battle of that nature, so Lodsys would then settle with a lot of its victims outside of court. Apple went up to bat for its third-party devs in court a couple years ago, and today Apple’s motion to intervene was thrown out.
Ars Technica reports the disheartening news:
Now, after two years of litigation, it’s back to square one. The East Texas judge overseeing Lodsys’ systematic patent attack on app developers has refused to even consider Apple’s motion. Instead, he allowed the patent-holding company to settle all its cases—and then dismissed Apple’s motion as moot. By doing so, US District Judge Rodney Gilstrap—who has inherited the patent-happy East Texas court that once belonged to patent-troll favorite T. John Ward—has enabled Lodsys to threaten developers for months, and perhaps even years, to come.
Apple was attempting to flex its muscles and keep Lodsys from going after iOS devs who couldn’t defend themselves in court. Lodsys has continued to sue devs since Apple entered the situation in April of 2012.
Since all of the example cases/devs in the lawsuit have settled with Lodsys outside of court since the trial started, the judge ruled that Apple’s motion was outside of the “scope” of the case. Apple has been very open about the need for reform within the U.S. patent system, and Lodsys is a perfect example of how the current laws can be exploited to stunt healthy competition.
Apple can still sue Lodsys directly if it wants to. And at this point, that may not be a bad idea.
Source: Ars Technica.