Apple speaks out against patent trolls after facing a record 92 lawsuits in three years

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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 …  Read more

Apple’s motion to intervene in Lodsys cases is thrown out

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Ars Technica is reporting that a judge has denied Apple’s request to intervene in Lodsys’ current patent disputes against app developers. Apple originally filed a motion to step in to the case in June, 2011. However, the judge has disregarded Apple’s statements saying that it is out of the scope of the active trial in an order dated September 24th.

Apple continues to oppose the alleged patent infringements, saying that their license covers third-party developers to use their technology. The contention in the current ruling was a debate of scope. Apple was insisting that its motion was on behalf of all iOS developers, not just the seven developers in the current cases.

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Obama administration plans to curb patent trolling with 5 step plan

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The WSJ reports that after years of worsening patent legislation in the US, the Obama administration has finally decided to try to do something about it.

The president has taken a dim view of certain patent-holding firms. In February, he said some firms “don’t actually produce anything themselves. They’re just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea to see if they can extort some money out of them.”

Apple, depending on who you ask, is sometimes the agressor in patent cases but is often the victim of  frivolous lawsuits that often earn these patent holding companies millions and millions of dollars. These companies aren’t really companies at all; instead they are just shell companies built around a patent or a portfolio of patents, which are often overly broad or were never intended to be used in a particular way.

These lawsuits often take place in courts in Eastern Texas, where judges are notoriously friendly to trolling interests.

Some examples of companies who’ve questionably sued Apple or its interests: VirnetXPersonal Audio LLC, Lodsys, Motorola? etc.

The administration’s plans in 5 steps:

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