Lodsys returns: Disney’s one of the latest companies accused of patent-infringing with in-app purchases

Lodsys returns: Disney’s one of the latest companies accused of patent-infringing with in-app purchases ...

Remember Lodsys, the “inventions” firm that started issuing letters to iOS developers’ doors back in 2011, warning them that by using Apple’s in-app payment mechanism they were infringing on patents it owned? Well,  as MacRumors notes, Lodsys has now risen from its slumber to take on the might of Disney, and others.

Just to recap quickly, the patent in question was filed in December 2003 as part of series of continuations on earlier patent applications dating back to 1992. The patent is credited to Dan Abelow, who sold his extensive portfolio of patents to holding firm Lodsys in 2004.

Lodsys subsequently explained the letters it was issuing directly to developers, Apple came to the defense of the developers and insisted on intervening, while Google became embroiled too.

Lodsys now boasts a slew of licensees on its website – more than 200, in fact. They include Photobucket, Hulu, Canon, Roku, Box and many other names you recognize, and some you may not, though details are scant on what the licenses for these particularly companies actually entail.

However, there’s no definite word yet on the outcome of Apple’s attempts to defend its developers from personal infringement notices. And as for why it was targeting developers rather than Apple itself, well, it has previously stated that Apple, Google and Microsoft have already licensed the patents, but they are not able to provide the same rights for third-party business applications.

Lodsys returns

All has been quiet on the Western front for the past year or so, a few peeps aside around its the status of its licensing push. But Disney’s physics-based puzzler Where’s My Water for iOS is seemingly the infringing app on this occasion. Part of the infringement notice reads:

“5. On November 17, 2009, U.S. Patent No. 7,620,565 (the “‘565 patent”) was duly and legally issued for a “Customer-Based Product Design Module.” A true and correct copy of the ‘565 patent is attached hereto as Exhibit A. Lodsys is the owner by assignment of all rights,title, and interest in and to the ‘565 patent.

6. On information and belief, Disney has infringed directly, indirectly, literally,under the doctrine of equivalents, contributorily, and/or through the inducement of others(including but not limited to users of Disney’s applications), one or more of the claims of the ‘565 patent. On information and belief, Disney manufactures, uses, sells, imports, and/or offersto sell infringing products and/or services —  including but not limited to Disney’s applications such as Where’s My Water? — which infringe at least claims 1, 15, and 27 of the ‘ 565 patentunder 35 U.S.C. § 271.”

It’s not just Disney either – it seems Lodsys is baying for blood in its latest bout of patent-infringement accusations – there’s ten in total: Gameloft, Gamevil, Jirbo, MobileAge, PocketGems, SunStorm Interactive, TLA Systems, TMSoft and BackFlip Studios too.

It seems clear that Lodsys has the patents to back up its claims, and has been pretty aggressive with its approach so far. And judging by its  previous scalps, there’s every reason to suggest it will manage to secure these new targets as licensees too.

Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock

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