iOS and Android Developers Plan to Boycott Apple and Google over Lodsys and Macrosolve’s Patent Trolling

Tired of being harassed by patent trolls like Lodsys and Macrosolve, which have been suing them over basic features like in-app purchasing, some app developers on the iOS and Android platforms have let out a call encouraging other developers to rally together and boycott Google and Apple for not helping them actively.

Though Apple and Google have announced that they would be assisting developers on their platforms with these lawsuits, they haven’t been much help yet. Some developers are urging others to pull their apps down from the iOS App Store and the Android Market for 5 days starting September 30 until Apple and Google decide to help them with the lawsuits against these trolls.

Here’s the original post at DevsUnite:

Macrosolve and Lodsys

September 30, 2011 – October 4, 2011
Starting 12 AM Friday to 11:59 PM Tuesday

Apple and Google are dragging their feet to assist with the Macrosolve and Lodsys patent bullying of small businesses, entrepeneurs, and developers. Without Apple’s and Google’s assistance, the app development community is vulnerable to the strategic attacks made by these companies. Since no Union for developers exists, individual developers are defenseless to the financial and legal bullying brought on by Lodsys and Macrosolve. Small companies and developers cannot afford to invalidate the patents claims made by Macrosolve and Lodsys. In protest, we have no choice but to voice our discontent for the lack of assistance. Have we not given our 30% of the cut for a reason? Starting Friday Sept. 30, 2011 to Tuesday October 4, 2011, developers may want to consider removing their apps from the iPhone and Android Market (or other Markets) to show their support for the developers community. You may lose a few dollars out of the process, but collectively, the disruption will help bring attention to this patent crisis. So you have to decide whether to lose a few dollars vs. losing much more when Macrosolve or Lodsys decides to go after you. For those who think by keeping your app on the market will allow you more visibility on those days, it only allows Macrosolve and Lodsys to discover you more easily. Don’t be surprised if they elect to go after you. Then your worse nightmare will begin.

There will be attempts to take this posting down. Share this message via email with other developers or use the link below.

Should Apple and Google prevent developers from accessing their accounts,then removal of apps will begin the day they open up access again.

Personally, I think this effort will largely be a failure. There are hundreds of thousands of app developers on both platforms with more than 700,000 apps between them. Unless a lot of Top 100 apps are pulled down, there is no chance that the average user will even notice the missing apps. And even if he does, there is no guarantee that Google or Apple will do anything more than they already are.

Given how difficult it is to get into the top 100, I doubt any developer would be willing to risk his position in the list by pulling their app down for a few days. Anyways, we will keep you updated.

iOS Developers Team Up to Fight Lodsys and Other Patent Trolls

Lodsys is probably the most hated patent troll right now. It started suing iOS app developers for implementing in-app purchasing in their apps, alleging patent infringement. The patent in question was actually handed to Lodsys by Intellectual Ventures, the greatest patent troll known to mankind.

Apple had actually licensed the patent from Intellectual Ventures, but Lodsys claimed that it didn’t cover the app developers, and that they should have to license it themselves. Apple has been trying to defend iOS developers, but there doesn’t seem to be any resolution in sight.

Recently, Lodsys also started going after independent Android developers, as well as biggies like EA, Rovio and Atari, slapping them with lawsuits.

Today, Mike Lee, an iOS developer announced the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team. He aims to rally all the affected indie developers together, and join forces to to fight off Lodsys and other patent trolls as one.

“We will let the patent trolls know: if you attack one indie, you attack all indies, and we will file every motion we can against you, we will attack your patents, and we will show you for the mafioso thugs you are.”

They will also be starting the Appsterdam Legal Defense Fund to accept contributions to fund the legal proceedings.

Most indie developers don’t have the resources to fight off trolls like Lodsys on their own, but if they all come together, they have a good chance of getting the frivolous lawsuits against them dismissed.

“Legal action will be the start of our three-pronged attack. Next we’ll take the fight to Washington, raising a wall of legislation against future attacks. Imagine a law that allows small software companies to opt out of the patent system.

We will also mobilize the many talented designers and evangelists in our community to launch a massive media marketing campaign to let the public know that small businesses, jobs, and the economy are being threatened by parasites.”

Via: ArsTechnica

Lodsys Widens Its Net, Goes After More Application Developers

Let me make one thing clear right from the outset, like most other normal people, I hate money hungry scumbags. Hence, it is but obvious that I don’t hold patent trolls like Lodsys in very high regard. If the name Lodsys doesn’t ring a bell, then here’s a quick recap of what has happened so far.

Lodsys LLC owns four patents that were granted to it between 1999 and 2009. As far as I can tell, Lodsys has never manufactured any product. Creating documents describing some pretty mundane processes is as far as its innovative streak went. Nevertheless, since one of the patents (US 7,222,078) granted to Lodsys seemingly describes an in-app purchase mechanism, Apple, Google, as well as Microsoft, licensed the concerned patent from Lodsys. However, not being content with just wrangling money out of the big names, Lodsys decided to target the defenseless the individual app developers. It threatened and then sued several iOS and Android application developers who had implemented in-app purchase mechanisms into their apps by using the APIs provided by Apple and Google respectively. Thankfully, Apple stepped in to defend the developers who were being harassed unfairly. It first fired an opened letter, and then officially filed a motion to intervene. On the other hand, Google, the company that desperately tries to promote a do-gooder image, has done absolutely nothing so far to show that it gives a damn about the developers who are responsible for building the Android ecosystem.

TrollSadly, greed knows no bounds. It now appears that Lodsys is even targeting apps that don’t employ in-app purchase mechanisms. EpicForce Entertainment, the developer of iFighter 1945, which doesn’t use in-app purchase, received a notice from Lodsys demanding royalties. When EpicForce replied back explaining their position, this is what a certain Harry Snodgrass had to say on the behalf of Lodsys:

My name is Harry Snodgrass and I have been assigned your account. I would like to respond to your email dated July 4th, 2011 attached below. First let me state that Lodsys is interested in a positive dialog with the goal of a prompt and reasonable resolution to this matter.

In your email you refer to the following – “directed to systems and methods for providers of products and/or services to interact with users of those products and services to gather information from those users and transmit that information to the provider”.

The title of a patent, such as stated above, is a general description of the area the patent addresses to allow for more efficient searching of patents and their general subject matter. The patent we sent a claim chart for has a claim that is directed at eliciting from a user, through a user interface presented by the product or service, a perception of the user of the product or service.

The patent specification sets forth many different types of perceptions and how they may be elicited. One of those is through interactive services and transactions. Specifically, a perception that can be elicited is the desire of the user to indicate their desire to purchase something that is related to or complementary to the product or service.

In this specific case, the perception being elicited through the offer to the user to buy “Super Laser: The Alien Fighter” through the interface presented by iFighter 1945 is, Do you find our games valuable enough to buy another game we think you are interested in from us?. The elicited perception is returned to you (you are the vendor of both iFighter and Super Laser) through the revenue you receive from the app store for the purchase of the new game.

I trust that this has clarified the matter and that you now understand that we are not mistaken. We would like to enter into meaningful discussion with you about an appropriate license that is scaled to your use of our patented invention. We look forward to doing that as soon as possible.


Harry Snodgrass

Harry Snodgrass
Licensing Agent

In other words, being the douchebags that they are, Lodsys is now trying to take advantage of the ambiguous wording of the patent documents to extort money from developers who employ cross-promotion through More Gamesor similar techniques. James Thomson had earlier spotted a similar instance.

Just found out that one of the targeted developers isn’t even using in-app purchase – just a button that opens a link to the App Store.less than a minute ago via Twitter for Mac Favorite Retweet Reply

It is obvious that the current patent system is broken. The situation is spiraling out of control with pretty much everyone suing everyone else. The patent system might have been created with the idea of fostering and rewarding innovation, but these days it is doing exactly the reverse. Interestingly enough, IBM seems hell bent on patenting the art of patent trolling. They haven’t had much success yet, but I am rooting for them. If IBM is indeed granted the patent, then theoretically they might be able to use that to sue the hell out of patent trolls like Lodsys. Now, that would indeed be poetic.

Apple Officially Steps into the Lodsys Patent Battle

Nine days after Lodsys sued seven iOS app developers, Apple has filed a motion to intervene. Apple has stated in its motion that the app developers are individuals or small entities with far fewer resources than Apple and […] lack the technical information, ability, and incentive to adequately protect Apple’s rights under its license agreement.

TrollThe current standoff started when Lodsys, a patent management company, began demanding royalty from app developers who had implemented in-app purchasing. This came as a shock to many since the in-app purchase mechanism was provided by Apple, and Apple had already licensed the appropriate technologies from Lodsys. Apple soon issued an open letter, in which it vehemently opposed the claims made by Lodsys.

Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patent[s] and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple’s license rights.

However, this wasn’t enough to deter Lodsys. It went ahead and filed lawsuits against seven developers with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

If Lodsys wins, not only will it be bad news for developers, but it will also be bad news for Apple in general. For now, Apple’s sole defense is that its current agreement with Lodsys covers all iOS app developers. It’s not known if Apple will be bearing the legal expenditures of the defendant or not. However, the good thing is that Apple at least seems to be willing to make a stand, and defend its developers. In contrast, Google is yet to speak up in favour of the Android developer who received a letter from Lodsys with similar demands.

Lodsys is Back with a Vengeance. And a $1000 Bet.

Lodsys, the patent troll which has been in the news all month after sending patent infringement notices to many iOS and Android developers over in-app purchasing is back.

After a brief period of silence, and probably many visits to their lawyers, Lodsys is back to refute Apple’s claims that its licences to the Lodsys in-app purchasing patents extend to its developers as well.

Lodsys has published a series of blog posts on their website explaining its position on the lawsuit.

First of all, it claims that Apple’s license to its patents doesn’t cover its developers

“On May 22nd, Apple’s chief lawyer Bruce Sewell unequivocally announced that Apple’s license to the Lodsys patents gave Apple’s 3rd party developers complete and undisputablefreedom to use the covered inventions without paying royalties or fearing lawsuits. There was a very positive reaction in the press and blogs. Apple appeared to give the Developer community what they wanted. Unfortunately for Developers, Apple’s claim of infallibility has no discernable basis in law or fact.”

Secondly, it is offering $1000 to each developer they have sent the infringement notice to, if it turns out that Apple’s license does indeed protect them.

“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. Therefore, Lodsys offers to pay $1,000 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.”

This battle is going to be quite interesting. If its claims do turn out to be valid, Lodsys could make millions or even billions of dollars in the coming years, however unlikely it may seem now.

Lodsys Attacks Android Developers over In-App Purchasing

Lodsys first came in the limelight a few weeks back when it started sending patent infringement notices to iPhone and iPad app developers who used in-app purchasing in their apps. Though it didn’t respond initially, Apple did publicly back its developers and stated that it had licensed that patent, which covered its developers as well.

Whether or not the license is valid only for Apple or for its developers as well is still unclear, but today, Lodsys has made a move against some Android developers as well, over the same in-app purchasing patent.

An Android developer posted this in the Android Discuss Google group:

If you’ve been following tech news lately, you may have read about a company named Lodsys that is threatening to sue iOS app developers (many of them small shops) for infringing on patents relating to in-app purchases. We recently implemented in-app purchases for our Android application and several weeks later we received a letter from Lodsys, claiming that we infringed on their patents.

Have any other Android developers out there been sent a letter? Has Google taken any action on this issue yet? Has Google given direction to any developers that have been hit by this? We are obviously a small shop and are not financially capable of defending ourselves over a litigation.

We would appreciate any helpful responses (especially from the Android team).

It’s very likely that Google will respond to this claim by Lodsys and fight it on behalf of its developers, much like Apple. Stay tuned for more updates.