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Lodsys files suit against New York Times, five others

The high-profile, patent-holding entity which has gone after app developers has taken aim at six companies in a new lawsuit that says all are infringing on one or more of its patents.

Lodsys, the group that's gone after both mobile-application developers and large companies in defense of patents it holds, today filed a new patent infringement lawsuit aimed at The New York Times Co. and five others, all of which have previously taken legal action against it in separate court filings.

The suit (PDF), filed in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division, takes aim at six parties: DriveTime Automotive Group, ESET, ForeSee Results, LivePerson, OpinionLab, and The New York Times Co. In its suit, Lodsys alleges that all of the companies are infringing on one or more of its held patents. In the case of DriveTime, ESET, LivePerson, and The New York Times Company, Lodsys asserts that those companies have done damage with their "acts of infringement," and that Lodsys seeks to recover those damages.

Intellectual-property tracking blog FOSS Patents, which discovered the suit this afternoon, notes that this is the fourth such infringement lawsuit to be filed by the nonpracticing entity, or NPE, and that the simple reason behind filing it is to bring all the cases against it into East Texas to both cut costs and get a potential leg up in the proceedings.

As far as the history of these companies' dealings with Lodsys, ForeSee was the first to strike against Lodsys with a declaratory judgement action in early June that aims to invalidate the company's four patents. Shortly thereafter, antivirus software maker ESET took aim at Lodsys with a suit, followed by The New York Times Co. and OpinionLab. DriveTime sued the company late last week.

New York Times Co. spokeswoman Abbe Serphos told CNET that the company had not yet been served with the complaint, and added: "We do not believe that our Web site violates the patent."

ForeSee declined to comment. Lodsys CEO Mark Small, OpinionLab, DriveTime, and LivePerson did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the suit. An ESET spokesman declined to comment.

Lodsys began its aggressive efforts in February with a patent infringement lawsuit targeting printing technology made by Samsung, Brother, Canon, Lenovo, and others. In May, the company began a campaign against mobile-application developers, sending out letters to a number of developers saying that they were infringing on Lodsys-held patents, and offering up a licensing deal to those who did not want to duke it out in court. This was on both Apple's iOS platform, and Google's Android platform.

Lodsys has not just targeted smaller mobile-application makers and technology companies, it's also gone after retailers and other big businesses, too, including Sam's Club, Best Western, Black & Decker, The Container Store, The Teaching Company, Vitamin Shoppe,, Adidas, CVS, and Best Buy. These companies were all named in a patent infringement lawsuit that was filed in early June.

In mid-June, Article One Partners, a business that crowdsources intellectual-property research began three new studies into Lodsys-held patents in an attempt to invalidate them. Each offers a reward to the party that finds prior art, or examples of pre-existing technologies or other IP that could be used as evidence to invalidate one or more of Lodsys' patents and tip the scales in existing litigation.

Updated at 3:38 p.m. PT with comment from New York Times Co.