Well, I have to say this: Lodsys got some balls. After Apple threatening them with legal action, Lodsys has gone on the offensive, and has proceeded to sue third party iOS application developers. While Lodsys had first given developers 21 days to negotiate an agreement, due to Apple’s legal threats, the company has now moved its litigation timing to an earlier date.
Lodsys announced the lawsuits on its blog. “Lodsys chose to move its litigation timing to an earlier date than originally planned, in response to Apple’s threat, in order to preserve its legal options,” the patent troll states on its blog. This means that individual, small-time application developers can now expect a lawsuit to drop on their doormat.
Lodsys is pretty certain of its position, as evidenced by another initiative the company has launched. “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,” the troll states, “Therefore, Lodsys offers to pay $1000 to each entity to whom we have sent an infringement notice for infringement on the iOS platform, or that we send a notice to in the future, if it turns out that the scope of Apple’s existing license rights apply to fully license you with respect to our claim relating to your App on Apple iOS.”
Is it despicable that this patent troll is going after these small-time developers? Of course it is – but, as I’ve said before, Lodsys is using the exact same system other companies – including Apple – are using to sue others or pressure them into paying licensing fees. You’re either for software patents, or you’re against them. You can’t condone software patents when Apple files them and is abusing them, while at the same time condemning them when others do the exact same thing.
As much as I despise software patents and the current patent system in general, this is the reality Apple – among many others – has been fighting to keep intact. Microsoft, Apple, Google, and so on all have the power to change the patent system, but their consistent refusal to do so means that they all have egg on their faces in this situation.
I am nothing if not consistent when it comes to software patents: they are evil. They are the single biggest threat to the technology industry, and they place an immense burden on the legal system, and thus, cost boatloads of taxpayer money that could be much better spent on, you know, fighting poverty, improving education and healthcare, and so on. It doesn’t matter who abuses them – Microsoft, Apple, Lodsys – software patents are always evil.
Apple, you have brought this on yourself. You get zero sympathy from me, and I hope this damages your business as much as possible. If Lodsys proceeds to go after Windows Phone 7 and Android developers as well, then I hope that will cause maximum damage to Microsoft and Google too. I do truly feel sorry for the individual 3rd party developers, but maybe, just maybe, their troubles will actually register in Washington DC.
Yeah and I’ve got a unicorn.
Only a Sith sees things in black and white.
I think it depends more on what the patent is about as opposed to who is filing it. In other words, I have no issues with entities filing software patents for very specific things, such as a particular audio/video codec. If I spend hundreds of thousands of dollars/man hours investing in a thing (or purchasing the technology from someone else), it’s a bit disingenuous of you to expect me to give it away for free.
However, many patents (like this one) seem way too broad. So, I’m not willing to get on board with the ‘all software patents are evil’ mantra. The whole thing just needs to be overhauled.
Edited 2011-05-31 22:35 UTC