Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google?

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Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? markusn82 5/26/11 1:37 PM
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).

Here are a few blog posts about the issue:

http://fosspatents.blogspot.com/2011/05/what-app-developers-need-to-know-about.html

http://thisismynext.com/2011/05/17/lodsys-sends-ios-developers-cease-and-desist-letters-in-app-purchases-on/

Thanks
Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Brandon Newsome 5/26/11 2:14 PM
So wait,

Are they saying that they are the only entity on the planet who can utilize any type of in-app purchasing system? Or are they just complaining about some silly button?


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Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Paul Selormey 5/26/11 2:19 PM
That is if you think USA is a/the planet.
Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Brandon Newsome 5/26/11 2:25 PM
No I didn't mean that -___-

They answer all the questions here: http://www.lodsys.com/blog.html
Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Tim in Boulder 5/26/11 2:49 PM
You might try joining up with these guys:

http://www.cultofmac.com/ios-developers-gang-together-to-fight-off-patent-troll-lodsys/97077

Also, an API boycott has been suggested:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/notable_ios_developer_suggests_api_boycott_to_fight_patent_trolls.php

That article notes there's a SECOND troll on the roam, suing app
developers for...wait for it... "using forms within their apps." Yeah.

I think a good point is made here (also in the second link above): "if
we pay, we are collaborators in our own demise, as the precedent this
sets will open a floodgate of parasites extorting licensing fees for
their alleged patents, knowing we are too weak and too scared to do
anything but pay. If we don’t pay, we’ll still be out of business, just
quicker, as we are sued out of existence."

I don't see how cutting off our own revenue streams with a boycott makes
any sense, though. So I think the right answer is for everyone affected
to band together into a group (or pay into a fund managed by an industry
group for this purpose) and sue LodSys and any other patent trolls into
submission. If we just all roll over and pay, then you better believe
hundreds of other trolls will crawl out from under rocks and threaten
every small developer for their 0.5% -- and it doesn't take many dozens
of trolls for that to become a big chunk. Lodsys doesn't even have a
patent that's relevant to in-app purchases, after all, so all you need
to do is own a patent, ANY patent, and you can start suing! Much easier
than, you know, actually creating VALUE with your time.

I read one article that I now can't find that suggested filing hundreds
of preemptive lawsuits in jurisdictions all over the map against patent
trolls like Lodsys; the cost to reply to so many lawsuits would likely
bankrupt the troll, but the cost to each developer could be high (at
least $2000 to file each lawsuit, more to pursue it). If instead
everyone banded together into a single combined attack, though, it could
still be really expensive, and could fail (all eggs in one basket -- get
a bad judge and/or jury, and we're all screwed). Everyone suing
separately (with some coordination -- sue on the same day, share in
legal research for precedent, etc.) is probably the best approach.

In any event, I'd bide my time as much as possible (and I'd talk to an
attorney if I got a letter). The Apple letter hasn't had much time to
have its effect, yet -- it may be that Lodsys backs off entirely, or
that Apple (and then presumably Google) ends up in some kind of deal (or
lawsuit) with Lodsys. Both Apple and Google have the money to grind
Lodsys to dust, given the shakiness of the patent to begin with.

Tim

Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Brandon Newsome 5/26/11 2:53 PM

That's it. I'm incorporating in Switzerland. Problem solved. :D

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Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Paul Selormey 5/26/11 3:58 PM
> Tim Mensch: Both Apple and Google have the money to grind

> Lodsys to dust, given the shakiness of the patent to begin with.

Ummm, you made it look like Apple's own patents are better :)
The Arabs are fighting for their rights, it is still not too late to
join forces and fight for yours.
From Japan, I say Ganbatte!

Best regards,
Paul.

Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Tim in Boulder 5/26/11 4:11 PM
On 5/26/2011 4:58 PM, Paul Selormey wrote:
>> Tim Mensch: Both Apple and Google have the money to grind Lodsys to
>> dust, given the shakiness of the patent to begin with.
> Ummm, you made it look like Apple's own patents are better :) The
> Arabs are fighting for their rights, it is still not too late to join
> forces and fight for yours.

My commentary isn't about Apple's patents, but about the fact that the patent has nothing to do with in-app purchases, and that Apple already OWNS a license to it (as does Google), and claims that their license should cover its use in applications (given that all the tech that implements it is in Apple's code).


>> From Japan, I say Ganbatte!


Sorry, don't know the reference.

Tim
Re: [android-discuss] Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? John Coryat 5/26/11 6:05 PM
>> From Japan, I say Ganbatte!

>> Sorry, don't know the reference.


Googling that leads to this page:


"Do your best" Very Japanese indeed.

Ganbatte!

I'll use that again.

-John Coryat

Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Nathan 5/26/11 9:59 PM


On May 26, 2:53 pm, Brandon Newsome <newsome...@gmail.com> wrote:
> That's it. I'm incorporating in Switzerland. Problem solved. :D
>

One of the blogs had this to say:
==
18. Lodsys owns patents only in the US but has contacted developers
not only in the US but also in Europe, possibly also elsewhere. How
can they do that?

Patents regulate a target market into which someone sells, not a
country of origin.
==
Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Paul Selormey 5/26/11 10:52 PM
> Patents regulate a target market into which someone sells, not a country of origin.

He is selling it in Switzerland, and pays his tax to the Switzerland.
Lodsys will have to wait till he started selling it in the USA.

Best regards,
Paul.

Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Al Sutton 5/26/11 11:01 PM
You can send letters to whomever you like claiming you own a patent that should stop someone else distributing an application, it doesn't make it legally enforceable.

I've had a couple of cease & desist and a DMCA sent to me in the past, pointing out that I'm not US based and that either the patent was a US-only patent and thus not applicable in my country, or that I actually wanted proof of a copyright infringement before I did anything, ended the conversation (in all cases the other party didn't respond and didn't take it further).

The only problem we have is Google's choice to run market under a US based company, and thus exposing Market to this lunacy, and thus exposing everyones apps to the possibility of being taken down due to a set of intellectual property laws the rest of the world.

I guess if you really were worried about it, just use the Market features to make your app unavailable in the US could be an easy solution.

Al.
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T: @alsutton W: www.funkyandroid.com

The views expressed in this email are those of the author and not necessarily those of Funky Android Limited, it's associates, or it's subsidiaries.

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Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Nathan 5/27/11 4:08 PM
On May 26, 11:01 pm, Al Sutton <a...@funkyandroid.com> wrote:

> I guess if you really were worried about it, just use the Market features to make your app unavailable in the US could be an easy solution.
>

Yes, I'd only offend 78% of my paying customers that way. ;(

In particular, the in-app purchases I want to enable next week are all
for the US Market. I don't plan to stop just because I will get a
letter from LodeSys eventually. I'll follow Al's lead and ask for
proof of infringement before I cough up any dough.

I believe I have sold shareware prior to 2005. It may have even had a
link to where you could purchase a code activate it. Any prior art can
invalidate a patent, whether I did it or not.

If you want to avoid getting any legal notices, the best way is
actually to just stay out of business altogether. I got a threatening
letter from Warner Bros a few years back over a rather small time
website.

Nathan
Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? jacek 5/29/11 6:48 AM
The real culprit is the Patent Office...
The P.O. makes all this nonsense possible
Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? jtoolsdev 5/29/11 9:37 AM
Businesses figured out years ago they could game the Patent Office due
to its technical ignorance.  This patent seems to be for a "concept" not
truly a machine or device that in total might be unique.  Patents
shouldn't be granted for such obvious things.  If you put a bunch of
programmers in separate rooms and gave them a problem to solve most
would probably come up with the same solution given the way that
computers work.  None of that should be patentable but we know sleazy
companies have done exactly that because they knew they could get away
with it due to the Office's ignorance.

I was put in charge of administering a patent program where I worked in
the 90s.  No one but the board of directors wanted it including the
founders.  It was considered "insurance" against other patent suits.  
IOW, this whole mess is so corporations can play war games with each
other, the "sue me sue you blues."  And asking programmers to keep a
journal when they seldom put comments in their code was a bit silly.

Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Chris Lang 5/30/11 11:45 AM
Does anyone have a link to the original patent? I want to see the documentation and run it past my lawyer before I make any decisions or comment on this. And really in my mind, that is the only one that matters, what my contract lawyer advises me to do. So my advice is do the same, seek legal advice on legal matters from a lawyer. Cheap too....

Chris Lang
CEO at Gadget MVP
Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Technogasms 5/30/11 2:15 PM
Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? jtoolsdev 5/30/11 2:31 PM

Talk about broad and obfuscated language:

"In an exemplary system, information is received at a central location
from different units of a commodity. The information is generated from
two-way local interactions between users of the different units of the
commodity and a user interface in the different units of the commodity.
The interactions elicit from respective users their perceptions of the
commodity. " :-D

This patent should be rescinded and maybe Apple, Google and others can
make it so.  "Commodity" is a rather abstruse term and seems like the
patent attorney had a hard time figuring out what word to use.


Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Nathan 5/31/11 9:47 AM
Can't disagree on the advice, but not sure how you achieve the "Cheap"
part.

Lawyers make a lot more than I do.

http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2003-11-26/

It would seem that you need someone, preferably with an undergraduate
in computer science, that specializes in intellectual property and
software. My brother in law who specializes in family law and juvenile
delinquents may not be able to give a better opinion than I could.

If someone read that patent, thought about it, analyzed my app and the
Market, and wrote a reply to LodeSys, that might take 12+ hours at
$300/hr. At that point, it's probably cheaper just to give the money
to LodeSys (not that I think that is the right thing to do on
principle).

If your lawyer does a good job, I might hire him. Seeing as he will
have already read the patent, maybe I can save some hours.

Nathan
Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Craig White 6/1/11 1:48 AM
----
Asking a business lawyer about patents is like going to the dentist for
a heart valve replacement. A good patent lawyer will never come cheap.
If you find a patent lawyer earning less than $300 per hour you should
keep looking. The really good patent lawyers start at $400 per hour.

A company such as Lodsys will factor the legal costs that a company can
expect to pay in order to fight it and price their licensing fees
accordingly. Their licensing fees were purposely set low to Apple and
Google because those companies pay patent lawyers already so there's no
incentive for Lodsys to get into a protracted legal battle that might
invalidate their patent. After they took the big players out of the game
and they then targeted thousands of developers to get some money from
each of them. Even if they only take a few thousand dollars from each
licensee, with enough targets out there, it begins to look like a lot of
money.

US patent law sucks - especially when it comes to software patents.

Craig

Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Tim in Boulder 6/1/11 8:00 AM
On 6/1/2011 2:48 AM, Craig White wrote:
> Their licensing fees were purposely set low to
> Apple and Google because those companies pay patent lawyers already
> so there's no incentive for Lodsys to get into a protracted legal
> battle that might invalidate their patent.


They didn't license the patents to Google and Apple. That was done before LodSys acquired the patents in question as part of a block of (IIRC) 30,000 patents, and the only question is whether the license that Google and Apple own cover the usage of the technology in question in externally developed applications.

They actually ARE trying to squeeze more money from Apple and Google. In the press release about their lawsuits against developers they mention being "surprised" that Apple mentioned their secret negotiations publicly.

> US patent law sucks - especially when it comes to software patents.

That much is certain.

Tim
Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Felipe (Noa Technologies) 6/1/11 11:41 AM
Lodsys strategy may be to cause a lot of pain to google by going after the developers. If a lot of developers start to complain they pribably think that that may speed up negotiations in their favor. The real problem here is that the patent was granted in the first place. 
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Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? jtoolsdev 6/1/11 12:33 PM
I bothered to read though the patent quite a bit and though I'm not a
lawyer I was struck by the language as if they never really developed
anything but instead came up with a concept that they thought someone
else might try to implement in the future.  Time has probably come
unless you want innovation to come to a halt to do a complete overhaul
of the patent system.
Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Tim in Boulder 6/1/11 1:43 PM
On 6/1/2011 1:33 PM, Brian Conrad wrote:
> Time has probably come
> unless you want innovation to come to a halt to do a complete
> overhaul of the patent system.


Preaching to the choir, though I think simply removing software from the list of things that's patentable would be an easier battle than trying to overhaul the entire system.

Costs of, e.g., pharmaceutical development make patents necessary for a reasonable ROI -- and big pharma has a lot of money, so you don't want to be up against their lobbyists. :) 

Tim
Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Chris Lang 6/1/11 3:00 PM
Thanks very much, and yeah, that makes your head hurt to try to read that one LOL.

Now it's time to pay my lawyer to review it. I have my contract lawyer on a simple $50 a month deal just to review TOS agreements and things like this. It is cheap, keeps me out of trouble when using API's like Google's and more.

Chris Lang
Founder and CEO at Gadget MVP

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Re: [android-discuss] Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Felipe (Noa Technologies) 6/2/11 7:33 AM
Almost sure that if they were to patent for a time machine or perpetual motion machine they would get ot.

On Jun 1, 2011, at 3:33 PM, Brian Conrad <brian...@gmail.com> wrote:

> I bothered to read though the patent quite a bit and though I'm not a lawyer I was struck by the language as if they never really developed anything but instead came up with a concept that they thought someone else might try to implement in the future.  Time has probably come unless you want innovation to come to a halt to do a complete overhaul of the patent system.
>
> On 06/01/2011 11:41 AM, Felipemnoa wrote:
>> Lodsys strategy may be to cause a lot of pain to google by going after the developers. If a lot of developers start to complain they pribably think that that may speed up negotiations in their favor. The real problem here is that the patent was granted in the first place.
>>
>> On Jun 1, 2011, at 11:00 AM, Tim Mensch<tim.m...@gmail.com>  wrote:
>>
>>> On 6/1/2011 2:48 AM, Craig White wrote:
>>>> Their licensing fees were
>>>       purposely set low to
>>>
>>>       >  Apple and Google because those companies pay patent lawyers
>>>       already
>>>
>>>       >  so there's no incentive for Lodsys to get into a protracted
>>>       legal
>>>
>>>       >  battle that might invalidate their patent.
>>>
>>> They didn't license the patents to Google and Apple. That was done before LodSys acquired the patents in question as part of a block of (IIRC) 30,000 patents, and the only question is whether the license that Google and Apple own cover the usage of the technology in question in externally developed applications.
>>>
>>> They actually ARE trying to squeeze more money from Apple and Google. In the press release about their lawsuits against developers they mention being "surprised" that Apple mentioned their secret negotiations publicly.
>>>
>>>> US patent law sucks -
>>>       especially when it comes to software patents.
>>>
>>>
>>> That much is certain.
>>>
>>> Tim
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Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Nathan 6/2/11 11:09 AM
On Jun 1, 11:41 am, Felipemnoa <felipem...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>Lodsys strategy may be to cause a lot of pain to google by going after the >developers. If a lot of developers start to complain they pribably think >that that may speed up negotiations in their favor.

Given the length of time it has taken to see improvements in the
Android Market, I don't think they should count on "complaints from
developers" as a way to speed up Google. ;)

Nathan
Re: Lodsys is coming after Android developers now. Any direction from Google? Elmer Esque 6/3/11 5:40 AM
S. 23: Patent Reform Act of 2011

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=s112-23

On May 29, 9:48 am, jacek <jacek.ambroz...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The real culprit is the Patent Office...
> The P.O. makes all this nonsense possible
>
> On May 27, 7:08 pm, Nathan <critter...@crittermap.com> wrote:
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> > On May 26, 11:01 pm, Al Sutton <a...@funkyandroid.com> wrote:
>
> > > I guess if you really were worried about it, just use the Market features to make your app unavailable in the US could be an easy solution.
>
> > Yes, I'd only offend 78% of my paying customers that way. ;(
>
> > In particular, the in-app purchases I want to enable next week are all
> > for the US Market. I don't plan to stop just because I will get a
> > letter from LodeSys eventually. I'll follow Al's lead and ask for
> > proof of infringement before I cough up any dough.
>
> > I believe I have sold shareware prior to 2005. It may have even had a
> > link to where you could purchase a code activate it. Any prior art can
> > invalidate a patent, whether I did it or not.
>
> > If you want to avoid getting any legal notices, the best way is
> > actually to just stay out of business altogether. I got a threatening
> > letter from Warner Bros a few years back over a rather small time
> > website.
>
> > Nathan
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