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Lodsys lawsuit targets Disney over 'Where's My Water?' iPhone app

post #1 of 12
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Lodsys' two-year campaign to secure licensing fees from iOS app developers took another turn today as the holdings company targeted entertainment giant Disney, alleging patent infringement in Disney's apps, including the popular "Where's My Water?"

platypus
Disney's Where's My Water?, now the target of an in-app purchase patent suit.


Lodsys has been suing iOS software makers since 2011, when it first threatened a number of developers with litigation if they did not license from Lodsys technologies related to in-app purchases. The firm holds U.S. Patent No. 7222078, entitled "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network," filed initially in 2003 but dating back to 1992 through continuations to earlier applications. It also holds U.S. Patent No. 7620565, "Customer-based product design module."

Now, Lodsys has expanded its efforts (via Mac Rumors) to include Disney, claiming that "applications such as Where's My Water?... infringe at least claims 1, 15, and 27 of the '565 patent under 35 U.S.C. ? 271."

Lodsys' complaint ? filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division ? notes that the firm "informed Disney of the patents-in-suit and offered to enter into a licensing agreement that would allow Disney to continue practicing the inventions claimed in patents-in-suit." Instead of entering into such an agreement, Lodsys holds, Disney "chose to continue its infringement."

The firm is requesting that its case against Disney be tried by a jury. The filing also requests that Disney's alleged infringement be found to be "willful from the time that the defendant became aware of the infringing nature of its respective products and services," as such a finding would allow for a tripling of damages in the case.

Aside from Disney, Lodsys has filed suit against nine other app developers in the past few days, including Gameloft and Backflip Studios. The firm is also targeting retailers such as Nordstrom, Godiva, and Burberry, as well as companies including SanDisk, Crocs, General Motors, and HP.

Late last year, Lodsys reported momentum in licensing of its in-app purchasing patents. In October, Lodsys said that more than 150 companies had "obtained the rights to use the Lodsys Group patent portfolio," and that number is now said to stand at more than 200.

In April, Apple was was granted a motion to intervene on the part of developers to put some of its own legal weight behind the developers Lodsys has sued or threatened. Arguing "patent exhaustion," Apple maintains that the license it has already secured for Lodsys' technology in operation of the App Store transfers down to developers making apps for that store.
post #2 of 12
You can be sure they want the jury trial to occur in Texas. Disney should file motion after motion after motion to have it moved elsewhere. ANYWHERE else. Disney has a building full of lawyers and if they get creative, perhaps they can finally squash the Lodsys pestilence once and for all.
post #3 of 12
They're still targeting the little guy who can't afford to defend themselves, too: I saw a new example of that recently. Lodsys wasn't mentioned but it was about IAP--had to be them.
post #4 of 12
We just need enough companies to fight back. If these parasites get tied up in court on many fronts at once they just might be put in a position where they don't have the funds to continue.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

They're still targeting the little guy who can't afford to defend themselves, too: I saw a new example of that recently. Lodsys wasn't mentioned but it was about IAP--had to be them.

The little guy? Disney? ????
Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonistic View Post

We just need enough companies to fight back. If these parasites get tied up in court on many fronts at once they just might be put in a position where they don't have the funds to continue.

Actually, there's much to be said for 'loser pays' to stop these suits.
"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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"I'm way over my head when it comes to technical issues like this"
Gatorguy 5/31/13
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post #6 of 12
I prefer the Where's my Perry app.
Crying? No, I am not crying. I am sweating through my eyes.
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Crying? No, I am not crying. I am sweating through my eyes.
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post #7 of 12

It is time to give Texas back to its rightful owners, Mexico. And then maybe we can put scumbags like Lodsys out of business.

post #8 of 12

The picture used in the article is Where's My Perry, and not Where's My Water.

post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by ktappe View Post

You can be sure they want the jury trial to occur in Texas. Disney should file motion after motion after motion to have it moved elsewhere. ANYWHERE else. Disney has a building full of lawyers and if they get creative, perhaps they can finally squash the Lodsys pestilence once and for all.

Indeed.

 

You can bet the first thing those Disney lawyers did was ask Apple if they could see the contract Apple signed over said patents to see for themselves that it says use by developers is covered. Given the friendship between Disney and Apple it would be granted. In fact Apple was likely thrilled when Disney got that first contact because here was a company that could afford to fight the fight all the way to the finish. 

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Protagonistic View Post

We just need enough companies to fight back. If these parasites get tied up in court on many fronts at once they just might be put in a position where they don't have the funds to continue.

 

It's not really about the number of companies. They just need one with the money to fight and the legal knowledge to get Apple's contract viewed in court. Once a jury hears that it includes coverage for all developers it's game over.

post #11 of 12
"The firm holds U.S. Patent No. 7222078, entitled "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network," filed initially in 2003 but dating back to 1992 through continuations to earlier applications. It also holds U.S. Patent No. 7620565, "Customer-based product design module."


So, basically, this was filed years before in-app purchases came to light in iOS in 2008?

I wonder what the filers really had in mind back then, and how they can possibly get away with applying this to in-app purchasing!

"Units of a commodity", huh? So, now iPhones and iPods and iPads are units of a commodity? Or, is the app the unit of the commodity?

It really sounds like they could (and probably intended to) apply this to real commodities, like ink cartridges or paper! Something that you actually replace and is always considered a commodity. My printer driver software and utilities software queries my printer across a network and gathers information from the "commodity" as to ink levels. It says, "hey, you are out of ink, time to replace the cartridge!"

So, Lodsys, crawl back in your sandbox and sue Epson and HP and Lexmark for their printer software. Apps and personal devices are NOT commodities. Apps are more like unique works of art.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by krabbelen View Post


So, Lodsys, crawl back in your sandbox and sue Epson and HP and Lexmark for their printer software. Apps and personal devices are NOT commodities. Apps are more like unique works of art.

They have sued HP.

And General Motors. And Saks. And Dr. Pepper. They're going after companies large and small and some are buckling. Some of the larger companies that have recently elected to take a license from Lodsys rather than fight it include Atari, Estee Lauder and The Men's Wearhouse.

The EFF has a good blog post on the Lodsys situation, particularly if you're a small developer yourself.
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/04/app-developers-lodsys-back
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