Friday, June 10, 2011

Lodsys patent lawsuits get attacked on two fronts: Apple files motions in case, while Michigan company files new suit in Illinois court seeking declaratory judgement

Florian Mueller, on his Foss Patents website, reported early this morning that Apple has filed a motion to intervene in the Lodsys patent lawsuit case.

According to Mueller, the developers involved in the patent case are bound by a non-disclosure agreement, preventing them from speaking on matters involving Apple. Assuming the Eastern District of Texas court allows Apple into the case, their position appears to be the same as expressed in its letter to Lodsys from two weeks ago, that developers, and Apple, are protected by the existing license agreement.
So far only Apple has asked to intervene in the case. One of the developers involved in the patent lawsuit is the developer of an Android app and so far nothing has been heard from Google. This illustrates the importance of the Apple letter and now its move to intervene: developer relations are vital to the success of any tech company's mobile and tablet platforms, and so companies such as Apple and Google are most likely compelled to defend their development partners in such situations – or else face a backlash from the development community.

Two days ago Mueller also reported on the case being brought by ForeSee Results, a research and consulting company which has a mobile app in the Apple App Store called ForeSee Results Mobile Portal.

The Michigan based company is seeking a declaratory judgement against four Lodsys patents. As Mueller explains, a declaratory judgement would not force an end to the Lodsys lawsuits, but would put the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the court where ForeSee Results filed their case, on record in the case pending in Texas – as Mueller writes, "It can prevent a lawsuit, or even a whole series of lawsuits, by resolving an issue pre-emptively."