Several months after rival Apple stepped in to put its weight behind fending off patent holder Lodsys from mobile developers, Google too has begun a public-facing effort against the nonpracticing entity.
Wired reports that Google filed a request with the United States Patent and Trademark office last night seeking a re-examination of two of the four Lodsys patents that have been used to target developers on both Google's and Apple's mobile development platforms.
"We've asked the U.S. Patent Office to re-examine two Lodsys patents that we believe should never have been issued," Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement to Wired. "Developers play a critical part in the Android ecosystem and Google will continue to support them."
Google's effort joins others to invalidate patents from Lodsys, an East Texas-based patent firm that began sending letters to mobile application developers in May seeking licensing fees on apps it claimed were infringing on its intellectual property by using in-app purchasing. While Google, Apple, and Microsoft are licensees of the firm's technology, Lodsys has argued that these licensing deals don't cover applications from third-party developers.
A lawsuit in June from ForSee Results targeted all four of the patents. That was followed a week later by three separate studies of the validity of the patents by Article One Partners, a business that crowdsources intellectual-property research. A developer coalition was also started earlier this month, in an effort to pool resources to hire a technology attorney, provide money to back legal defenses in patent-related cases, and draft intellectual-property legislation that would help protect developers.
Along with those efforts, Apple--whose developers have been targeted both for licensing the patents and for not striking such deals--began its effort to intervene in May, after Lodsys filed a lawsuit against a group of application developers. In a note at the time, marking Apple's first public response to the issue, the company said it was "undisputedly licensed to these (patents) and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license." Lodsys quickly fired back on its blog, saying "Apple's claim of infallibility has no discernable basis in law or fact."
Software patents have become powerful ammunition for groups like Lodsys, MacroSolve, and others, especially over the course of this year, due in no small part to the growing popularity of mobile applications. The eventual outcome of this issue is of special interest to developers and companies like Apple, Google, and others that have built platforms for the developers to build and sell on.