Lodsys Targets Disney's 'Where's My Water?' and Others in New Round of Lawsuits Over In-App Purchasing

For nearly two years, we've been following the saga of patent troll Lodsys, which has been demanding licenses from and filing lawsuits against developers over in-app purchasing and related functionalities in their apps.

Apple quickly stepped in on behalf of iOS developers when the situation first arose in May 2011, claiming that its existing license with Lodsys covered developers using iOS development tools, and nearly a year ago Apple was granted limited permission to intervene in lawsuits filed against developers by Lodsys. While Lodsys initially focused on small developers, it did expand its scope to take on gaming heavyweights such as EA, Rovio, and Atari.

lodsys_logo_2012
News has been relatively quiet on the Lodsys front for the past year, although the firm did announce last October that a key claim of one of its patents had been upheld following reexamination and tout that it was achieving significant licensing momentum with over 150 companies already signed up to license some or all of the firm's four patents. Many of these firms are small developers who likely felt that taking out a license was a safer solution than trying to fight a lawsuit against Lodsys.

We've heard that Lodsys has continued to send out notices to app developers over the last few months, and yesterday the firm took on another big name in the industry by filing suit against Disney. As with many of the firm's other lawsuits, Lodsys is citing its '565 and '078 patents in alleging that Disney's apps, including the popular Where's My Water?, contain infringing functionality.

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 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271.

Prior to filing this complaint, Lodsys informed Disney of the patents-in-suit and offered to enter into a licensing arrangement that would allow Disney to continue practicing the inventions claimed in patents-in-suit. Disney, however, chose not to enter into a licensing agreement. Instead, with knowledge of the patents-in-suit and disregard for Lodsys’ patent rights, Disney chose to continue its infringement. On information and belief, Disney continued its infringement despite an objectively high likelihood that its actions constituted infringement of a valid patent (i.e., the ‘565 patent). Disney was made aware and, therefore, knew of the risk that it infringed the ‘565 patent. Accordingly, Disney acted knowingly, willfully, and with intent to infringe the patents-in-suit.

wheres_water_cranky
The lawsuit against Disney is just one of ten filed against app developers by Lodsys over the past several days, with other targets including major iOS developer Gameloft and Paper Toss and DragonVale developer Backflip Studios. Also targeted is TLA Systems, which consists of PCalc developer James Thomson, who was among the first to speak up about threats by Lodsys nearly two years ago.

pcalc_store
Lodsys now touts that over 200 companies hold for its patents, and it seems to be ramping up efforts to expand that number even further, using new lawsuits to pressure developers who have declined to enter into licensing agreements so far.

Lodsys is targeting not only app developers with its efforts, but also other companies such as major retailers Nordstrom, Burberry, and Godiva. In recent months, Lodsys has filed additional lawsuits against other companies including SanDisk, Volkswagen, Crocs, Dr Pepper Snapple, General Motors, and HP, demonstrating the broad range of companies being targeted by the effort.

It is currently unclear exactly where things stand with Apple's efforts to defend its developers from threats by Lodsys, but Lodsys has clearly been emboldened by its licensing and patent challenge successes and is continuing to take aggressive steps to capitalize on its patent holdings.

Top Rated Comments

Rudy69 Avatar
128 months ago
That's AWESOME! Finally they have bitten more then they can chew. I hope Disney will put these trolls out of business. They're really hurting indie developers :/
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mousse Avatar
128 months ago
I'm rooting for Lodsys on this one. I hope the win and in-app purchasing dies because no one wants to license it.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Serelus Avatar
128 months ago
Till this day, I do not understand how Patent Trolling is not illegal in the united states, how about simply forbidding these kind of practices? If you're not planning on contributing to the product, you don't get the patent. If you plan on contributing to that product but you haven't done so for at least 5 years.. your patents are revoked, simple as that... WHY this is still a problem in the US is beyond me.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lifeinhd Avatar
128 months ago
I love how Lodsys is described in the article-- on a site known for its objectivity-- as being a "patent troll." No shame whatsoever :D
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jav6454 Avatar
128 months ago
Good luck against Disney.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DirtySocks85 Avatar
128 months ago
I think either of these quotes sum this up rather well:

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." - Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Tora! Tora! Tora!

"I've made a huge mistake" - Arrested Development

----------

I love how Lodsys is described in the article-- on a site known for its objectivity-- as being a "patent troll." No shame whatsoever :D

Well, it would be a different story if Lodsys were legally fighting Apple on this, but they aren't. They "licensed" the patent to Apple, and then turned around and starting filing lawsuits against all of the developers that were using the Apple license. This reeks of planned malevolence from the start.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

dewey airtag

Report Highlights Danger of Using AirTags for Tracking Dogs

Monday January 30, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
AirTags may be a convenient way for tracking dogs that might get off leash or otherwise lost, but there are dangers associated with the practice, as outlined by a report from The Wall Street Journal. At 1.26 inches in diameter, AirTags are able to fit easily on a dog's collar, but that size also makes the tracking devices small enough to swallow, at least for a medium to large-sized dog, and ...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Five New iOS Features Coming to Your iPhone Later This Year

Tuesday January 31, 2023 11:58 am PST by
Apple has previously announced several upcoming iOS features that are expected to be added to the iPhone this year. Some of the features could be introduced with iOS 16.4, which should enter beta testing soon, while others will arrive later in the year. Below, we have recapped five new iOS features that are expected to launch in 2023, such as an Apple Pay Later financing option for purchases ...
Apple Silicon Teal Feature

The Next Big Apple Silicon Device May Not Be a Mac or iPad

Wednesday February 1, 2023 3:57 am PST by
Apple's next device with an Apple silicon chip may not be a Mac or an iPad, but rather an advanced external display, according to recent reports. The display, which is rumored to arrive this year, is expected to sit somewhere between the $1,599 Studio Display and the $4,999 Pro Display XDR – but more exact information about the device's positioning and price point is as yet unknown. While ...
Multi Display CarPlay 1

Apple Launching All-New CarPlay Experience Later This Year With These 5 Features

Sunday January 29, 2023 10:15 am PST by
In June 2022, Apple previewed the next generation of CarPlay, promising deeper integration with vehicle functions like A/C and FM radio, support for multiple displays across the dashboard, personalization options, and more. Apple says the first vehicles with support for the next-generation CarPlay experience will be announced in late 2023, with committed automakers including Acura, Audi,...
MKBHD HomePod 2 White Ring Stain

New HomePod Can Still Stain Some Wooden Surfaces

Tuesday January 31, 2023 8:29 am PST by
When the original HomePod launched in 2018, it was discovered that the speaker can leave white rings on some wooden surfaces. Now, well-known YouTuber Marques Brownlee has confirmed that the issue persists to a lesser extent with the new HomePod. In a side-by-side test, he showed that the white second-generation HomePod left a white ring on the wooden surface that he placed the speaker on,...
HomePod 2 White and Midnight Feature Purple Blue

Apple Explains Why HomePod Was Released Again, Wi-Fi 4 Limitation, and More

Thursday February 2, 2023 7:57 am PST by
Apple's VP of hardware engineering Matthew Costello and product marketing employee Alice Chan recently spoke with Men's Journal and TechCrunch about the new second-generation HomePod in wide-ranging interviews about the smart speaker. Apple discontinued the original full-size HomePod in March 2021 after multiple reports indicated that sales of the speaker were lackluster, but Chan told Men's ...