An IP holding company is apparently attempting to sue iOS app developers over their use of Apple-sanctioned in-app purchases, which use Apple-designed code on Apple devices and continuing today, a small but growing list of iOS developers received notice via a FedEx-delivered package that they were under threat of legal action from a patent holder. The precise violation, of U.S. patent 7222078 is revealed in a communication from developer Rob Gloess and the allegedly infringing applications use Apple’s in-app purchase tool to encourage users to upgrade to a paid version after downloading a free app…………..
Lodsys LLC, a Marshall, TX-based company filed a patent-infringement lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The complaint names as defendants some big names from the printer and information technology (IT) industries, including Brother International, Canon U.S.A., Hewlett-Packard (HP), Hulu, Lenovo, Lexmark International, Motorola Mobility, Novell, Samsung Electronics and Trend Micro. Some of the products that Lodsys claims infringe its intellectual property include printers and MFPs that use software that shares with the vendor information about supplies usage and/or helps users order supplies online. Some of the allegedly infringing MFPs use software that helps users to easily access various MFP functions or so-called Universal Print Drivers.Little information is available about Lodsys other than that it licenses technology invented and patented by Dan Abelow, who also has his own website for an intellectual properties company called Computing ver. 2 (Cv2) and a consulting company called Breakthrough Usability. Another Marshall, TX-based company called Webvention, LLC owns another of Mr. Abelow’s patents, but the patent owned by Webvention is not a part of this lawsuit.
Altogether, Lodsys claims that the defendants infringe three of its patents. The first of these patents is of the most interest to those following the printer and supplies industries. Lodsys accuses Brother, Canon, HP, Lenovo, Lexmark, Motorola, Novell, Samsung and Trend Micro of infringing U.S. patent 7,620,565, “A Customer-Based Design Module.” It seems that this patented technology uses a combination of computer hardware, software, and communications technologies to construct a communication network that interacts with a user, gathers information from the user, communicates with the product’s vendor, and receives new pre-programmed interactions from the vendor for future interactions with the user.Printer products that Lodsys claims infringe the ‘565 patent include the following:
- The Brother MFC-9840CDW and other Brother printers with Brother Control Center software. Brother’s Contol Center software is a utility that allows users to easily access a MFP’s most used applications.
- The Canon PIXMA MG5220 and other Canon printers with PIXMA Extended Survey Program and Solution Menu EX driver. Canon’s PIXMA Extended Survey Program is an optional utility that apparently collects information on the printer’s ID number, installation date and time, ink use, number of sheets, printed, maintenance information, OS version and language and sends the information to Canon via the Internet. Canon’s Solution Menu EX dialog box leads users to documentation, utilities, and help files.
- The HP LaserJet Pro P1102w, LaserJet Pro M1212nf, and other HP printers with SureSupply. HP’sSureSupply alerts users when they are running low on ink or toner and helps users find and shop for the correct OEM cartridge(s) online.
- The Lexmark Pinnacle Pro901 and other Lexmark printers with Lexmark SmartSolutions and Lexmark Printer Home. Lexmark’s SmartSolutions are a set of solutions that can be downloaded from Lexmark’s website to create one-touch solutions for repetitive copying, scanning, and printing tasks or for viewing RSS feeds, Google Calendar, and online photo albums from the printer control panel. Lexmark Printer Home is software for accessing advanced scanning functions.
- The Samsung CLX-3175FW, ML-3471ND, CLP-315, and other Samsung printers with Samsung Universal Printer Driver. Samsung’s Universal Print Driver enables users to print to any Samsung device without having to install a driver for every networked printer.
Lodsys also alleges that Brother, Canon, HP, Hulu, Lenovo, Lexmark, Motorola, Novell, Samsung and Trend Micro have infringed U.S. patent 7,222,078, “Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network.” The patent covers a system for receiving at a central location information generated from two-way local interactions between users and a user interface. The Brother, Canon, HP, Hulu, Lenovo, Lexmark, Motorola, Novell and Trend Micro products said to infringe are computer servers used to collect data. Samsung’s allegedly infringing products are both computer servers and Samsung cell phones with Samsung Media Hub.A third and final patent that Lodsys claims that only Samsung and Trend Micro have infringed is U.S. patent 5,999,908, “Customer-Based Product Design Module.” The plaintiff says that the infringing products are website surveys.Lodsys is requesting a permanent injunction to prevent further sale of infringing products and to be awarded damages, treble damages, attorney’s fees, and court costs. We would imagine that given the numerous companies it is suing and the numerous products Lodsys claims infringes its technology, the company hopes to recover a hefty amount in damages or settlements from the defendants.