back to article Apple nemesis sues iOS, Mac, and Android devs

Lodsys – the patent holder already pressuring various iOS and Android app developers to turn over licensing fees – has now sued seven small developers in the patent-friendly Eastern District of Texas, and in truly bizarre fashion it has told targeted iOS developers that if its patent claims are wrong, it will pay them $1,000 …

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counterstrike

Lodsys should be careful, Apple may launch a countersuit. If they continue to refer to other brands' application stores as "app stores" His Jobsiness will surely descend upon them.

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Anonymous Coward

American innovation at it's best.

Europe is next guys.

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Thumb Up

europe what?

Good luck enforcing US patents in Europe.

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Ru
Facepalm

Re: europe what?

Good luck selling infringing software in the US.

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Anonymous Coward

One of those patants

The collecting details to use in other interactions, sounds like it contravenes European data protection laws. You are only supposed to use data for the purposes you stated when collecting it

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Ye-es

----

Good luck selling infringing software in the US.

----

Ye-es - but... if it came down to either/or - the European market is approximately twice the size of the US market.

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Unhappy

More to the point...

There is a lot of pressure on the EU to adopt US style patent laws that would allow software patents. Software patents are already granted in the UK, though there was a brief spell from 2006-208 when they were not permissible. US style patent law is in the UK already, pressure on Europe to 'normalise' is intense.

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Anonymous Coward

These patents are considered innovation?

Is browser an application? Definitely. Are various flash, javascript and cgi- pages applications? Of course.

Do they collect information from the user and send it back to their vendors? Naturally, that's what web services do.

Do they offer payment options for additional (site) functionality? Yes, some do...

Am I the only one to see prior art here?

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WTF?

"while the other involves collecting data from a product's user and then applying that data to additional interactions with the user"

Enter Name?

John

Hi John!

Patentable invention that one, no prior art at all.

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LPF

@ Mark 65

I know, its like the patent system is run by retarded umper lumpars!

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Facepalm

Did you read the patent?

For this to break the patent, the code which creates the "Hi John!" string and the decision to print it needs to be on a network somewhere and not part of the app(lication) you are running.

"...downloading new pre-programmed interactions to the product sub-system..."

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: Did you read the patent?

> the code ... needs to be on a network somewhere

[vic@goliath ~] $ ssh hobgoblin

Last login: Thu May 26 14:43:21 2011 from goliath

[vic@hobgoblin ~] $

Telnet, of course, predates this by some considerable length of time, but I don't run telnet...

Vic.

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Boffin

"On a network somewhere"

Well, that's covered by Advanced Netware v1 from the mid '80s.

GJC

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RE:

With Telnet (and webservers, database servers etc) the local program sends a set of instructions to the remote host and receives a status. In the patent the local program sends a status to the remote host and receives a set of instructions.

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Facepalm

I really really hope Lodsys loses...

I don't even wish them ill, but if they win, it will soon be impossible to put three lines of code together on ANY device without breaking eleventyone patents. Especially with the way the USPTO seems to grant patents without bothering to check for prior art, relying instead on the courts to sort the chaff from the wheat.

I have the sinking feeling that somebody is running the following script:

while (<PATENT_DB>) {

s/cell phone/tablet/;

apply_for_patent $_;

}

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Coat

You must have stolen my idea!!

....

#written by Trev Wednesday 1st June 2011 07:27 GMT

while (<PATENTS_DB>) {

s/mobile\ phone/tablet/;

apply_for_patent $_;

}

What's that? Optimised code is optimised and therefore likely to be similar for the same task?

(If anyone doesn't get the ref: see google versus Oracle regarding some Java stuff)

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Devil

Hmmm...Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

<-- [aside: Is this supposed to be Project Satan from Futurama?]

Lodsys: "While it is true that Apple and Lodsys have an obvious dispute about the scope of Apple’s license to the Lodsys Patents, we are willing to put our money where our mouth is and pay you something if we are wrong,"

That actually sounds sensible*. Steve Jobs, I know you read this site and all its comments religiously. Will you put your money where your mouth is? Take that 30% commission you're requiring for in-app payments on the iPhone/iPad and put it towards a legal defense fund, perhaps? Yes? No?

* for a patent troll, that is.

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Anonymous Coward

Why just Apple?

Google also charges 30% commission on in-app purchases, yet they haven't even written a letter to Lodsys. Surely they can afford the stamp? Or are they just cowardly waiting to see whatever Apple does?

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@Why just Apple

As far as i can tell, Apple are the only ones to have licenced the technology. Their argument is that because they have licenced it that their developers are also covered by that licence.

Google haven't licenced the technology. If it was to defend Android developers (not something that Google tends to do anyway) then it would be to dispute the validity of the patent .. something a heap more difficult than Apple's position.

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Holmes

Actually

It should be open and shut.. Either the contract that Apple has explicitly includes all iOS developers or it doesn't.

In a way this situation serves apple (and android) right. They should never have legitimized the patent in the first place.

Sometimes the easiest route (placate the troll to make them go away) is not the best option in the long run as they are now discovering.

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Patent bundle

I'm pretty sure this particular patent was just filler in a bundle containing patents that Apple, Google etc actually did need to licence.

I'd imagine no one bothered looking at it too hard, easy to imagine it's not specifically mentioned in rights to app developers and that A&G viewed it as holed by prior art anyway, I doubt anyone except the holder saw this play for small devs.

I suspect Apple will buy one of these companies and throw their legal team at the issue before the patent trolls smell blood.

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g e
Silver badge

Imagine the bill

If it turns out Apple screwed up...

Quel dommage.

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Anonymous Coward

Agreed

If the iOS developers aren't working for Apple or acting as agents of Apple, it's hard to see how they could be covered by Apple's contract unless it specifically says they are.

.

(Which is not to suggest this crap should be patentable in the first place.)

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Unhappy

@Goat Jam

"It should be open and shut.."

But patent trolls and their lawyers are involved so naturally it will take hundreds and hundreds of billable hours to come to the final solution.

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Not a fan

I've been steadily losing my respect for Apple in the last couple of years (like my Macbook Pro has died on me four times now and Apple suing over the silly likeness crap with Samsung) but this is the one time when Apple needs to go nuclear and throw everything and the kitchen sink at Lodsys.

If Apple doesn't lay down the law on Lodsys then you can bet there are others waiting in the wings to do the exact same.

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Apple legitimized Lodsys

I dont really understand the whole bully thing that you request Apple to be. Is patents, intellectual property and the rest an ego competition to measure pockets? Well this is what it has eroded to be but I dont feel we should legitimize it by asking Apple to act like that.

In my opinion, Apple has made a terrible mistake here. If the patent is stupid, there is prior act or whatever other reason, then it should have thought of it in the first place and challenged it in a court of law. Instead, by licensing the patent, Apple itself legitimized it. I feel that Apple will be in a very awkward position if it presented itself before a court, asking to invalidate a patent that it has already licensed. Apple here covered its own ass and that's it.

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Anonymous Coward

Patent bought as a portfolio

Apple (and Google and Microsoft) didn't JUST buy this patent - companies nowadays rarely do - it was purchased as a portfolio from another company Intellectual Ventures, which is essentially even bigger troll with over 30,000 patents.

The usual in these cases is for companies to just licence the whole portfolio since it would be extremely expensive to evaluate each patent individually.

I'm actually simplifying things a bit here, the web of how these patents were sold is more complex, read: http://www.lodsys.com/1/post/2011/05/q-what-is-dan-abelows-involvement-is-intellectual-ventures-behind-lodsys-or-controlling-lodsys-in-some-way.html

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Alert

move to Europe?

surely, if the patents are US, then if the dev sets up in the EU, they cannot be touched. Maybe not possible for al, but for some maybe?

Licensing a patent does not necessarily legitimise the patent.

Read Foss Patents for better coverage of this and another despicable patent troll.

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Bronze badge

Won't work

As long as the developers home country does not extradict people for convictions in a patent trial (which I doubt, but IANAL), the developer has no problem.

But it will become very dangerous to travel to the USA, of merely passing it on your way. Also, Lodsys can demand from Apple that the app is not sold inside the USA., when they have a court order, or that the revenue made inside the USA is not transferred to the developer.

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Gimp

my litigation sense is tingling...

This could be a new frontier in these frivolous patent spats, as by offering $1000 'compensation' up front, they could be protecting themselves from any counter suits...

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WTF

I just can't see where the patentability lies

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Linux

Perfect example of broken law and broken execution

Try reading the so called patent in question. Perfect example of what is wrong with the system. The so called patent is so generalized and vague it could cover anything while actually not bringing anything new or original to fore.

I am sure they paid dearly to ram this through, and civilization will pay dearly for the years it sets us back.

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Stop

Title

Years ago App Stores (eg RegNow, Plimus etc...) were forced to start collecting VAT on software sales even if us developers weren't VAT registered ourselves. The thinking behind this we were told was that the App Store "owns" the product just as it's making the sale, and as the App Store is VAT registered it must collect VAT and pass it on. The Apple App Store also handles all VAT and local sales tax so my understanding was that Apple "own" the app as they are making the sale.

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Devil

What was the point of patents again?

Patents only serve to keep patent lawyers in business now. The original intention was to allow inventors to profit from their inventions by discouraging others to copy them. Maybe we could get back to this principle if patents were only valid if their owner actually exploited them? Give them say 3 years after filing to create something that uses the patent, or the patent expires. That should sort out most of these opportunists who buy and sell patents describing the bleedin' obvious written by people who have no intention of selling anything other than the patent itself.

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Megaphone

Nearly but not quite...

Patents serve their purpose very well in the US, and that purpose is to protect markets against outside companies. If you want to launch product like say a new smart phone: In the US you'll need to partner up with one of the Big Boys (like M$ or Google) to protect yourself against Apple, as HTC are finding out now. so your paying some US based company for their license pool the company gets paid and the government gets more taxes.

If the patent system was just a way for lawyers to get paid all the tech companies would be campaigning to omit software from patent laws, but as things stand it's more beneficial to protect themselves against innovative foreign startups than it is pay off the lawyers to sort it out.

Change will only come about when they realise that the backers behind the patent troll holding companies are from foreign investors screwing the system for their own non-American gains.

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Gimp

Lodsys!

The clearest definition of "parasitic patent trolls" I have ever seen. Not often I get behind the Lord Jobs but I hope he takes this lot to the cleaners to get them sit-down and shut the hell up!

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Facepalm

Is this original?

<quote>"gathers information from the user, communicates the information to the product's vendor, and receives new pre-programmed interactions from the vendor for future interactions with the use</quote>

Sounds a lot like a bar code reader to me.

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Popcorn

see title.

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Thumb Up

something about doing unto others..

lets see how crapple likes it up em.

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WTF?

A patent on collecting payments

Fuck me, how the hell did they come up with that one?

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Pint

@Ocular Sinister

I believe the approved method is to sit in the pub with a group of mates and talk about shit. Somewhere around the fifth pint going down ideas like that are to be had and make eminent sense, whereas in other environments they would be dismissed out of hand.

Hmm reading that back, I wonder if anyone's got the patent on; "Use of beer to aid and accelerate the development and identification of patentable processes."?

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Childcatcher

Another Patent Troll?

Remind anyone of SCO? Their ridiculous assault on Linux destroyed the company. Can this patent troll firm really afford years and years worth of this legal battle? The lawyers are the only winners here.

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Paris Hilton

Probably

Probably, for starters Apple is paying royalties along with others.

While I think patents are necessary and good - particularly for physical and chemical and other products, it seems the US Patent Office has lost the plot with software patents specifically.

There are some truly brilliant pieces of seminal software engineering that should be patentable and have been. Sadly it seems that in the USA, as long as a software patent is sufficiently abstruse, it will be accepted by the patent office and it takes years of legal battles to get patently (pun intended) ridicuilous patents overturned, while the patent owners act like gangsters.

Abuse of an otherwise useful system (patents) designed to protect the intellectual property rights of inventive minds.

Personally, I blame lawyers and the legal profession for all this.

Paris who is herself, recondite

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Anonymous Coward

As I said in an email to the guy...

Despite its enormous success, the vaccine for polio was not patented.

When asked who owned the patent, Salk famously responded:

“Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”

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Happy

Easy solution

Sell software with a specifc license exclusion to usage or ownership within the Eastern District of Texas. The good ol' boys can be stuck with a trusty Nokia 6310.......

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