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15 August 2011, 12:28

Google attacks Lodsys patents

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Google has now intervened in the dispute between the developers of mobile applications and patent company Lodsys. According to Wired in the US, the Android developer has asked the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to re-examine two patents and assess whether they are valid. Wired quotes Google's vice president Kent Walker as saying: "We’ve asked the US Patent Office to re-examine two Lodsys patents that we believe should never have been issued." It is not yet clear just what the basis of Google's claim is.

Patent number 7,222,078 from 2007 essentially describes a technique for collecting information about how a product is used and then forwarding this to a central location. The other patent, 7,620,565, describes a similar collection of information at a central point, but also includes information that constitutes the making of a purchase from within an application. Both patents name Daniel H. Abelow as the inventor. In 2004, he sold his patents for communications technology and customisation to Lodsys, a company that has a single line of business: the licensing of patents.

Lodsys is taking action against both Android and iOS developers, and has recently moved against Rovio, the developers of Angry Birds, and Electronic Arts (Sims 3). Both Apple and Google have acquired licences from Lodsys, but the position that Lodsys is taking claims that application developers are not covered by these licences and have to make their own settlements with Lodsys. The company's action is being heard in a court in Lodsys' native state, Texas; a court in which the majority of plaintiffs in patent actions win their cases. Google's action could lead to a disruption of the court proceedings while the re-examination is completed. However, there is no legal obligation for the judge to order a stay of litigation until the end of a re-examination, and the east-Texas court has ordered a break in the process in only about one in five such cases.

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