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Photo: edudemic.com

arsTechnica drew our attention to some unusually forthright comments from Apple’s lawyers on the subject of patent trolls, in a public FTC filing. Apple revealed that it had been the subject of 92 lawsuits by patent assertion entities over the course of the past three years, more than any other company.

Apple has rarely lost on the merits. But victory figures are small consolation, because in every one of these cases, Apple has been forced to bear its legal fees. This reality is the lifeblood of the patent assertion industry… Indeed, the opening line of many negotiations is some form of, “What we’re asking for is less than it will cost you to litigate this case to judgment.” It should come as no surprise, then, that despite its success in litigating the merits, for business purposes Apple has agreed to a settlement in 51 of the 57 closed cases.

Apple’s legal team used particularly direct language when referring to Lodsys, a company which claims to hold a patent on in-app purchases and which litigates against small developers who cannot afford the legal costs of fighting the case … 

Lodsys scuttled away, settling with each of the developers for a pittance, thereby mooting Apple’s attempted intervention and avoiding a sure loss on the merits… Lodsys has no compunctions about this strategy. It will keep moving from developer to developer, leeching whatever royalties it can until a party with the resources to litigate scares it away.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if Apple offered to fund the legal costs of the next developer to be targeted …

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24 Responses to “Apple speaks out against patent trolls after facing a record 92 lawsuits in three years”

  1. It’s going to be hard to manage all these lawsuits. They’ve had it coming though. I am pretty interested what’s going to happen next.

  2. One would think it would be cheaper to spend 1/4 of the litigation money on lobbyists to reform patent law.

  3. Annie Oakley says:

    somewhere in the furthermost reaches of the universe is the tiniest violin not bothering to play for poor little apple.

    • elder Signin says:

      Dear Annie, we have patented that phrase in some small country in asia and now we are going to sue you into the stone age. We don’t really expect to win, just run you out of money and then make you settle.

      I am sure you are very cool with this idea cause when we do it to other Apple developers, you are very cool with it. See you in court…. or the poor house.

      signed, Your local patent troll.

    • Tallest Skil says:

      Shut up and go away, you worthless pathetic imbecile.

      Or at least give us your personal contact information so each and every one of us can sue you on no legal ground whatsoever, win, and carve out our little slices of Annie Oakley.

      Why, YOU “can spare the money”, after all. It doesn’t matter that you’re being dragged to court…

      Get bent.

      • Annie Oakley says:

        What exactly is it that I have done that I can be sued for? Please explain? Also I ell your comment is deliberately abusive and threatening and will be reporting it.
        Thanks. :)

      • thejuanald says:

        So is this place not moderated at all? You’re the worst person I’ve ever encountered on the internet.

      • Tallest Skil says:

        Good for you, what’s your point? You’re agreeing with this moron? Idiotic, lying posts like his should be allowed? You’re not positioning yourself very well.

      • thejuanald says:

        My point is you’re one of the worst people I’ve met on any online forum, like I stated in my first post. You could, and should, conduct yourself in an appropriate manner, without insulting people. You could easily correct people without sounding like a confrontational jerk. That’s all.

    • Ryan DeRocco says:

      Oh my god. She’s so dumb she doesn’t get it! hahahaa. She thinks you really are going to sue her! hahahahahaa Wow. Sarcasm Annie, look it up.

      • Annie Oakley says:

        I do get it and the beinning of the comment was not sarcasm and has been reported as abuse as will your comment. Thanks. :)

      • Annie Oakley says:

        It seems as though the supporters of Apple, who I assume use their products have about the same regard for “people” as the company allegedly does, considering Apple’s alleged human rights abuses involving child labor and poor working conditions. It doesn’t surprise me at all that their fans would be immature internet trolls who lack human decency when using Apple products.

  4. Okay, we’ve heard Apple’s side of the story, what’s the opponent say?

  5. thejuanald says:

    I do find it quite funny that when Apple plays patent troll, it’s just them protecting their IP (on rectangles). When others do it, they are terrible monsters. If this Lodsys holds a patent on App Stores, then why is it not okay for them to protect what they have patented, but when Apple sues food companies over logo similarities, people here praise them?

    • don sterling says:

      What an ignorant comment. Apple by definition is not a patent troll because it uses its intellectual property to sell products that it produces. Patent trolls, in contrast are companies that do NOT produce anything at all. Rather, patent trolls make money by buying up other companies patents and then suing on the basis of those patents in the hope that the victims of their lawsuits will settle. For many companies, settlement is cheaper than litigation.

      Of course, Apple does sue to defend the intellectual property it uses to produce its products. Generally speaking, however, companies like Apple that actually sell products tend to be selective about engaging in lawsuits because they are worried about countersuits. This is precisely what happened in the litigation battles between Apple and Samsung. But patent trolls don’t have to worry about countersuits because they don’t produce anything of their own. That leaves them free to run wild.

      • I don’t really agree with that. You say “Apple by definition is not a patent troll because it uses its intellectual property to sell products that it produces.” But that’s not true because for one thing, as often pointed out on this very blog, Apple file lots of patents they have no use for. You can interpret that several ways: projects that were never completed, future use…or patent trolling. Something that looks like it, at least.

        Now, I wouldn’t call them a patent troll in the accepted sense of the term, but I still would pretty much say they’re trolling people with their patents. I mean gee they patented the page turning animation in (previous versions of) iBooks. Okay I get the fact that software and real life are two different things but come on, patenting page turning makes you an asshole in my book.

        Also I’m very much in favor of free software, and don’t really like the concept of IP in general. So what can I say. I’m hoping Apple like the taste of that medicine.

        All that said, I don’t have a lot of affection for “true” patent trolls.

      • thejuanald says:

        Okay, so Apple isn’t a patent troll, it’s a company that will bring litigation over very vague, questionably patentable (I know that’s not a word) “products”. Plus, as myfantasticshow pointed out, they buy up patents or companies with the intent of never using them just so others can’t.

        I love when Apple fanatics attack other people who use Apple products just because they don’t praise everything Apple does.

    • The difference here is that Lodsys doesn’t make anything…their ENTIRE business model is suing people. That’s it. They don’t have any products or anything. This isn’t Apple v Samsung — this is Apple v Scumbag.

  6. LOL @ Apple calling out Lodsys. More like lodsh–

  7. Nice work with the title photo. genius