updated 07:40 pm EDT, Thu July 21, 2011
Lodsys expands to target major game developers
Lodsys continued its rapidly widening lawsuit campaign Thursday by trying its hand at attacking major game developers. A larger complaint (below) now adds Atari, EA, Rovio, Square Enix, and Take Two over in-app purchases in their mobile games. The expansion singles out major games and isn't limited to just iPad and iPhone titles, going so far as to target Rovio's versions of Angry Birds for both Android and iOS.
The expansion brings Lodsys' original lawsuit up to 37 targets and is likely to grow further. The non-contributing patent holder is also notably breaking away from its policy of deliberately suing small independents unable to fight back and switching to much larger companies. It may reflect confidence that the lawsuit will win and that companies with stronger defenses won't necessarily be a challenge.
Lodsys hasn't been afraid of targeting larger companies in the past and has sued Best Buy and others. Most of these, however, have focused on non-gaming patents that allegedly cover surveys and other mostly web-oriented code.
The company has been betting that it can't be defeated by prior art claims and also that its interpretation of its patent licenses to Apple and Google don't include individuals, allowing it to double-dip and effectively charge twice. Apple has motioned to intervene and contend that its license inherently covers all developers. Google has oddly remained silent and has raised concerns that Android developers might have to pay royalties to Lodsys even if iOS developers are found exempt.
Lodsys' lawsuits have been having a corrosive effect on the mobile app market and leading some foreign developers to refuse to publish their apps in the US out of fear of being included in a lawsuit. Beyond Apple, hope also exists from countering declaratory requests that could invalidate Lodsys patents and force a shutdown of its in-app purchase dispute. [via Florian Mueller]