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Lodsys suing Rovio, EA, Take-Two, Atari, Square Enix

Mon 25 Jul 2011 7:38am GMT / 3:38am EDT / 12:38am PDT
Legal

Company aims high with smartphone patent infringement claims

Atari

Atari group is a global creator, producer and publisher of interactive entertainment for interactive...

atari.com

Patent licensing company Lodsys has extended its legal case against several high-profile smartphone developers to include Rovio, EA, Take-Two, Square-Enix and Atari.

The continuing action is part of claims relating to two patents owned by Lodsys: U.S. Patent No. 7,620,565 and U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078. Lodsys claims that each of the 11 defendants now involved in the case has infringed those patent filings.

The games which have been added to the case, as reported by Foss Patents, are Angry Birds for iOS and Android, Atari's Greatest Hits for iPad and iPhone, Square Enix: Big Hit Baseball for iPhone and iPad, The Sims 3 for iPhone and the iPhone version of NHL 2K11.

Previously Lodsys' efforts had been concentrated primarily on iOS developers, prompting Apple to argue that its own licences covered its developers.

Whilst Apple's posited legal intervention failed to stall Lodsys' advances, the company has now increased its scope to include more Android targets. Google has so far remained tight-lipped on the matter.

24 Comments

Appears to be in vein of TLangdell resurrected. Cant companies just develop works, protet patents without trolling for easy money once a product becomes successful. It appears counter productive to help the overall entertainment field for apparent posthumous/retrospective claims (if sought on the grounds of genuine patent protection, that patents and its rules need to be changed for a more common sense appraoch)

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Kingman Cheng
Illustrator and Animator

945 161 0.2
Funny I was reminded of Langdell too! Attacking some pretty big names there, be interesting to see how this goes. :P

Posted:3 years ago

#2

Neil Young
Programmer

270 300 1.1
Read the two patents - any patent system that even considered granting them has some fundamental issues.

Would also help to make patents the same as some other areas of IP (such as trade marks), where they have to be used to be retained.

Posted:3 years ago

#3
in addition, with IP trademarks, you can easily have 20-30 similar looking trademarks, as long as they do not clearly infringe one another within the same market, it is permissible. The onus is on how obstructive the older trademark/patent applicant is really to any new entrees. But you know, there should be some give and take within this global ecosystem, because as ones fortunes grow, you might need other existing IP holders to be permissibly lenient, if you want to branch out into other markets eg. publishing, training, etc

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,036 915 0.9
Funny, just what was on This American Life during my commute today:
[link url=http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/441/when-patents-attack
]http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-ar...[/link]

They made an impressive case why the situation is going to get far far worse than we can imagine right now.

The patents itself are your typical patent troll "inventions".

Posted:3 years ago

#5
singularly - when these nasty letters come through (some 2 bit solicitor), there is the typical anxiety and in this regard, a trade organization (since there are no game unions) would help provide informal advice and support, and collaboratively with legal of the local publishers - there can be a way to check how legitimate the patent rights are.

I feel it is good to have a test case where non operative patent holders should not be allowed to patent troll (internationally)

Lastly, a patent on in-game apps is like trying to prevent the invention of the zip, the clothing button, the shopping bag, or the average mug. With this kind of litigious nonsense, this makes a mockery of real inventors. Why not just patent the right to breath air (scary thing is one day, maybe they will...)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dr. Chee Ming Wong on 25th July 2011 11:47am

Posted:3 years ago

#6

Andrew Goodchild
Studying development

1,228 388 0.3
A trademark (used correctly rather than in a trolling) is defending rights of a trading company, if they are not using it then they have no need for the mark, and it is redundant.
I totally disagree that patents should work the same. They are protecting (in theory, as the system does seem broken) the rights of an inventor or the company who employs him. If you invent say a holographic TV where the technology is correct, but you don't have the money to put it into production, does that mean it's fair game for anyone to rip it off, as it's not in use? That's a good way to make sure no one without capital ever invents anything again. It is also an expensive process to get a patent rather than the comparitively easy registering of a trademark.
What does need to change is how vague some of these patents seem to be. They should have to include specific methodology. It shouldn't be enough to patent in app purchases, for instance, but rather the method of getting in app purchases to work, and proof that it was fully working, I don't believe a working prototype needs to be submitted (this may be correct).

Posted:3 years ago

#7
Patents originally had to be totally unique rather than patenting a everyday commonsense process.
This is not so now, now like trademarks, everyone can try to make a patent look unique but can have easily all by intent and purposes be the SAME exact patent, phrased differently. In addition, you cna even buy and transfer patents, thus prolonging nebulous poorly phrased allegedly unique patents.

The patent offices need to clean up rather than let anyone patent the doorknob and portable personable media, because the real problem is thus.

If you were a UK or EU developer, then all sales of app related products will be deemed as fiscally risky and thus leading to folks pulling their games from the US. its very sad, but the most sensible approach due to these gung ho patent trolls.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Neil Young
Programmer

270 300 1.1
@andrew for a patent, I would suggest that working on an implementation would be enough, otherwise you'd just be voiding almost all patents at a stroke.

Patenting something you aren't using achieves nothing but stifling the creativity of others, which is the opposite of what patents are meant to do.

Posted:3 years ago

#9

Kessia Thomas
Studying 3D Computer Animation

16 1 0.1
Honestly, do little bald men in beige suits, sitting at beige desks in beige offices writing with beige pens on beige coloured paper sit in wait for someone to 'infringe' something so they can take the full force of their beige-ness out so they can have a slice of what the poor unsuspecting developer burst several blood vessels for in order to make a successfull product?

Not a particularly constructive comment but I'm sure you get the point :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kessia Thomas on 25th July 2011 1:08pm

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,036 915 0.9
A few things from the This American Life episode I mentioned earlier:

For each patent a typical patent troll ties to litigate, there are usually a few thousand patents describing the same thing. There are even multiple patents for toasting bread if you can believe it.

The inventor never invented anything, never tried to construct anything. He just got the patent approved, then sold it to some shady company and was done.

The shady company then opens an office in an East Texas building with 300 offices but nobody ever working there. This way they can sue at the court in East Texas, since it is not flooded with criminal cases of higher priorities.

Toss in a couple of shell companies for good measure, then imagine some parent companies advertising their licensing service to protect people from patent law suits and other parts of the company suing those who do not comply. All hidden behind layers of shell companies to make the Mafia style scheme less obvious.

One of the big players in this market, a company called Intellectual Ventures intents to raise annual proceedings from its patent licensing business from two billion to 34 billion Dollars.

Big software companies have their own stockpile of patents to threaten patent trolls with counter suits, effectively protecting them.

Good luck to all small developers trying to operate software in the U.S. under such conditions. Expect any excess earnings to be sucked up by patent trolls.

Posted:3 years ago

#11
effectively modern day equivalents of domain name squatters (patent squatters with nebulous wordings but not really inventing anything except obfuscating para legal mumbo jumbo)

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Brian Perry
Studying Master Science Game Design

5 1 0.2
Yeah, this situation is looking pretty sad for the indie like me. Indies may have to adapt the feudalism system in these patent wars and swap protection for freedom. I have even considered opening my business in another country so I can run it in the US without the threat of being sued out of business by patent bullies. I want to make a Linux friendly business which seems like suicide if I did it in the US.

Posted:3 years ago

#13

Tom Hunt
Game Developer

21 15 0.7
dear lodsys,

i hope you die.

XOXO,
~tom

Posted:3 years ago

#14
how does opening a biz elsewhere help protect you from the US? short of NOT opening a game app to the US are you covered safely. Or working offshore from the isle of wright or something similar.

Posted:3 years ago

#15

Paul Gheran
Scrum Master

123 27 0.2
Patenting the ability to begin and record a conversation about things which are immediately relevant if a medium other than speech is used.

Not bad. I need to come up with some of these.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Gheran on 26th July 2011 1:03am

Posted:3 years ago

#16

Erica Smith

1 0 0.0
This if not anything else really gives a poor show for the patent system:

[link url=http://radiomobiletech.com/news/news-news/the-maker-of-angry-birds-sued-by-the-angry-lodsy.html
]http://radiomobiletech.com/news/news-new...[/link]

If you read this article you will understand that patent's really are patent troll inventions.

Posted:3 years ago

#17

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

595 356 0.6
Andrew: patents are not designed (at least not originally) to "protect the rights of an inventor or company," and taking that sort of view is in part how we got into this mess in the first place.

The original purpose of patents was to encourage people to invent things and share those inventions with the world. The limited legal monopoly the patent owner is granted on that invention is merely payment from society to that patent owner to serve as encouragement.

From this point of view, we can clearly see that in the cases of independent invention, where someone creating something comes up with an idea that's already in a patent and thus unwittingly infringes that patent, the patent system has failed in its primary purpose: it's taken value that belonged to society as a whole (the ability to utilize that invention) and given it to the patent holder, but effectively got nothing return since that encouragement was clearly not needed to create the invention.

Posted:3 years ago

#18

Francisco López Mármol
Independent Game Developer

1 0 0.0
Software Patents are not necesary. It only serves to patent trolls who dont invents anything.
I want my freedom to invent. I dont care if someone invent the same as me. Because that is what we have. We are having the same inventions constantly.

Why we can not patent math? Because doing that, it would freeze the inventions based on it, and the same must be true for software.

Do you want to know why software patents are still valid in USA? Because a lot of companies have buyed patents. A LOT of money in patents, a value to protect. Money. And now you go and tell them that his patents dont have any value now. It seems that companies dont want to throw his patents.

It is really sad this sick patent system.

I want my rights back! I want my rights, my freedom to create software!

Posted:3 years ago

#19
Just invent and develop your patents in Europe. Their interpretations are currently true to the inventor system compared to a more IP trademark trolling in US.

Posted:3 years ago

#20

James Palmer
Creative Director

4 0 0.0
Seems interesting business model here where a company can patent something, cause a few problems in the industry and sue big names to be heard of and in the hope of either, winning a court case or being purchased themselves my a massive corporation in order to shut them up.

This seems like a strategy to get rich quick off the back of a exploited US patent system... I think the basis of granting a U.S. Patent need reconsidering when making applications.

Posted:3 years ago

#21

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

1,036 915 0.9
If anything, the flaw in the current software patent law is, how far it outweighs an idea over an implementation. That is why those law companies get away with nonsense scribble patents they never put into practice. The judges seem to have the idea that the most complicated thing about creating a program is coming up with the idea for it and the rest is just telling a code monkey to slam his ruby head-bandanna onto the keyboard twice.

But this is not the 19th century anymore, where one patented inventor needed 10 grunts to pull levers from time to time and assemble a product. The balance of power has reversed. The easy part today is designing a program on paper, the hard part is assembling it.

Posted:3 years ago

#22

Yann Corno
Chief Technical Officer

4 1 0.3
In the origin, patents were a good thing, intended to protect an inventor and give him the time to develop his business (or license it) during 20 years. So they were encouraging inovation.
Unfortunately, it works upside down for the high-tech industry, but nobody realizes it, especially politicians, who still think Patents encourage innovation. As we all know, ideas are developped on top of other ideas. But the patent system went balistic, allowing anyone to patent anything. So in the end, only the big companies or specialized lawyer firms (that I would call politely vulture firms) have the means to defend or attack patents. I would call this legal extortion - not innovation protection.
There is a simple solution: adapt the patent lifespan to the cycle of the industry it is supposed to protect. In the high-tech industry, products have a 16 to 24 months lifetime. So make patents valid for 2 years - not 20. This would calm down many people...
Utopia? Probably, considering that most US politicians are lawyers...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Yann Corno on 27th July 2011 8:44pm

Posted:3 years ago

#23

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

595 356 0.6
Actually, even more than two hundred years ago patents were sometimes holding back innovation so that someone could extract rent. They were not always encouraging innovation.

Posted:3 years ago

#24

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