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Lodsys files opposition to an Apple intervention

Lodsys has returned fire on Apple in the courtroom, saying the company's move to defend app developers is full of holes.


More than a month after Apple filed a motion to intervene as the defendant in a lawsuit from Lodsys that targets 11 application developers, Lodsys has filed a rebuttal seeking to get Apple's efforts denied.

In a heavily redacted document filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas Marshall Division, and picked up by blog Foss Patents, Lodsys notes that things have changed since Apple got involved. That includes who's been targeted by the suit, which was expanded last week to include a number of gaming giants like Atari, Electronic Arts, Rovio, Square Enix, and Take-Two Interactive, all of which Lodsys says violate the patents it holds with their mobile software.

"Apple repeatedly asserts that the defendants are allegedly individuals or 'small entities with limited resources'...But Apple prematurely filed its Motion before Lodsys filed its Amended Complaint against several large companies with substantial financial and technical resources," the filing says. "Accordingly, there can be no serious dispute that the defendants will more than adequately represent Apple's purported interest."

What is that interest? In its original filing last month, Apple said that its business and the businesses of its developers depend on it.

"Apple has an interest in property that is at the center of this dispute, namely, its license to the patents in suit and its business with the developers, which depends on their use of products and services that Apple is expressly licensed under the patents in suit to offer them," Apple's June intervention filing read. "Both Lodsys' complaint and its threats to other Apple developers adversely affect the value of Apple's license and its business with the developers."

In today's filing, Lodsys fires back, saying that this interest is "at best, purely economic," and that "economic interests do not satisfy the requirements for intervention," making the argument "speculative."

As for the redacted section, which is what Lodsys kicks off its counter-argument with, intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller over at Foss Patents suggests it includes details of Apple's license agreement to use the patents that are now being used as ammo against developers. The part that hasn't been blacked out suggests the court begins the discovery process, presumably to dig up the full details on that arrangement.

Lodsys triggered a controversy back in May when it began going after developers directly for a licensing fee on apps that made use of the in-app purchase feature, something it claimed to have the patent rights for, eventually threatening legal action against those who did not comply. After a period of silence, Apple responded, saying that its licensing of those patents covered its developers too, and following that up two months later with an attempt to intervene.

The outcome of this case and others by Lodsys could have a dramatic impact on developers looking to build things on Apple and Google's mobile platforms, both of which have been targeted. If Lodsys can manage a win or two, especially against Apple's intervention effort, there looms the threat of a much wider-reaching legal campaign.