Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Lodsys sues developers

The threatened war by Lodsys on small developers has started: Lodsys has filed suit against seven of them for alleged patent infringement.

Florian Mueller's FOSS Patents blog has a good overview of Lodsys' litigation strategy. (There is a bit of triumphaiism in Mueller's entry: he took a dimmer view of Bruce Sewell's much-heralded letter to Lodsys than most did, and his gloomy prognostications turned out to be a lot closer to reality than most observers'.) Mueller has a guess as to why Lodsys chose to file now:
The only way I understand Lodsys's claim that it needed "to preserve its legal options" is presumably that Lodsys feared Apple might seek declaratory judgment of non-infringement in a different jurisdiction than East Texas, the troll-friendly venue Lodsys chose (as I expected). Maybe it would have been a good idea for Apple to seek declaratory judgment much sooner, but Apple either didn't want to do that or was just too slow.
"Troll-friendly" is the only hint to Mueller's feelings about Lodsys.

Lodsys itself shrugs off name-calling. In a blog entry entitled "What is the platform promise?" Lodsys accuses Apple of deceit, claiming that "Apple marketing" promises developers rights, but that "Apple legal doesn't have those rights to offer."
For many people, it is easier to call Lodsys and other rights holders names for trying to be compensated for their rights, within a system that is established and known, than it is to consider one’s own responsibility, or the promises and motivations of the platform provider.
"To consider one's own responsibility" -- is Mark Small really staking out the moral high ground for himself (and his cronies, if any)?

Is this non-contributing leech on society really telling productive developers, who create genuine intellectual property for a living, that he is the injured party here?

I thought Silvio Berlusconi and Rush Limbaugh were the poster children for shamelessness. I'll have to add Mark Small and any other partners in Lodsys to the Gall of Shame.

I wonder how much Lodsys paid for these patents. I wonder how much the original rights holders, the ones who filed for these patents (and therefore the ones who presumably put in the real work), will see from this suit. I wonder how large a profit Lodsys is making, merely by having cash to burn on acquiring patents.

Rewarding those who create is the reason for the patent system. Lodsys took over a number of patents in the expectation that its cost for doing so would be less than its revenues from those patents. But Lodsys does nothing to earn those profits. Lodsys provides nothing to the rest of us to justify its place in the patent dance.

Lodsys and other patent trolls turn rights ownership into a drag on our society. The economic inefficiency they introduce should not be permitted by our laws. I'm willing to compensate genuinely useful, creative people for their work. I'm not willing to pay useless parasites like Lodsys.

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