Lodsys today filed lawsuits against several iOS developers for patent infringement. Specifically, FOSS Patents notes that Combay, Iconfactory, Illusion Labs AB, Shovelmate, Quickoffice, Richard Shinderman and Wulven Games were those named in the lawsuit. If you remember, a few weeks back they offered this group of developers 21 days to negotiate a license. Apple was silent until last week when the offered a strongly worded response to Lodsys indicating the app developers were protected by Apple’s license of the patent.
Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patent and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license.
Game over right? Not according to Lodsys who updated their blog today to indicate whey they were moving forward with the litigation ahead of schedule.
Q: Why did Lodsys sue some App Developers on May 31, 2011?
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 holder also had a response to Apple’s letter.
[Apple's] letter was very surprising as Apple and Lodsys were in confidential discussions and there was clearly disagreement on the interpretation of the license terms of Apple’s agreement. Before, during and after these interactions, Lodsys has carefully considered this issue and consulted several legal experts to consider Apple’s claims. We stand firm and restate our previous position that it is the 3rd party Developers that are responsible for the infringement of Lodsys’ patents and they are responsible for securing the rights for their applications. Developers relying on Apple’s letter do so to their own detriment and are strongly urged to review Apple’s own developer agreements to determine the true extent of Apple’s responsibilities to them.
Lodsys has offered to pay developers named in the suit $1000 if they are found to be “wrong”.
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.
There are a couple of things in play here. For one, it is surprising to see Lodsys’ refusal to back down to Apple. This will also find itself as part of the discussion during WWDC. Sure the focus will still be on iOS 5, iCloud and Lion, but expect this to continue to be a major story going into next week. The ball is back in Apple’s court. How will they respond this time around and will we see a statement from them before WWDC?