The makers of the popular game app Angry Birds, Rovio, are being sued by a licensing company for infringing its patents.
Lodsys, a one-man company based in Marshall, Texas, has named Finnish creators Rovio in a patent lawsuit in a Texas court, and has also begun suing some of the biggest names in mobile gaming, including Electronic Arts, Atari, Square Enix and Take-Two Interactive.
Rovio is accused of infringing at least one of Lodsys’s patents with Angry Birds for iOS and Angry Birds for Android.
BBC Business reports that, according to Rovio, Lodsys had not contacted them directly when it comes to this allegation. A Rovio spokesperson said, ?As soon as we receive more information we will take appropriate action.?
Lodsys owns patents granted between 1999 and 2009, and first filed claims against seven defendants last May. Yesterday, it had removed one of those, Vietnamese company Wulven?Games, but added Rovio’s versions of Angry Birds for iPhone and Android, as well as EA’s The Sims 3 for iPhone, Atari’s Greatest Hits compilation for iPhone and iPad, Square Enix’s Big Hit Baseball for iPhone and iPad, and Take-Two Interactive’s 2K Sports NHL 2K11 for iPhone.
With today’s amended complaint, Lodsys is currently suing a total of 37 defendants, and there may be more to come.
Legal bullying is not new to Lodsys. In the past, they filed several cases against game developers making an honest profit on Apple?s App Store. This angered the Cupertino firm. Bruce Sewell, Apple?s chief attorney, wrote to Lodsys? CEO. In the letter, he said that, true, developers make use of the patent. However, they do this in accordance to Apple?s API, which the Cupertino firm has already licensed. He said, ?Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys? patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys.?
Last week several European independent developers?said they were withdrawing their apps from the US App Store?for fear of being sued by Lodsys. That is clearly not an option for the likes of Rovio and EA, as well as for Apple. Games are the most lucrative category on the App Store, with iOS remaining the lead mobile platform for the vast majority of mobile games firms.
Patent infringement is a major reason of game app developers being wary of entering this market. Firms like Lodsys assert intellectual property rights and demand payments, which is threatening the mobile applications market.
A number of patent-owning companies have begun lawsuits in the US against more than a dozen software companies. However, many small independent developers find the costs of a lawsuit too onerous, even given that they could run into thousands of dollars.
The US patent system allows software implementations of ideas to be patented, which differs significantly from the European Union ? although the European Parliament has been considering aligning patent rights with the US.
Florian Mueller, who has tracked patent disputes in the US and EU, had earlier suggested on his blog: “Lodsys is trying to abuse the patent system in a way that could ultimately destroy the entire mobile apps economy, which is not only thriving on its own but has been and continues to be a key factor in making new mobile devices so useful and popular.”
He says: “It’s actually questionable whether Lodsys’s patents would survive a well-funded effort to have them declared invalid,” adding: “Even if they could be upheld under the system as it stands, there’s no way that those patents represent a fair deal between society and” Lodsys, which bought them from the inventor.
The risk to the mobile app economy is huge, says Mueller, and this move by a small, relatively unknown company might be the final straw needed to get the mobile companies, including Apple ? which is the largest mobile phone vendor in the world by revenue ? to lobby the US administration finally to do something positive about?software?patents.
Patent trolling is a big business in the U.S. Lodsys is causing real difficulty for App Developers and for those who rely on App Developers.?According to The Guardian, ?App developers are withdrawing their products for sale from the US versions of?Apple?s App Store and Google?s?Android?Market for fear of being sued by companies which own software patents??
Simon Maddox, a UK developer, has removed all his?apps?from US app stores on both iOS and Android for fear of being sued by Lodsys, a company which has?already sued a number of iOS and Android developers?which it says infringe its software patent.
Now, it is a waiting game for the Angry Birds creators. They will now be waiting in line, just like the 10 other companies caught in the infringement lawsuit, to see the outcome of this whole patenting drama.
The popularity of Angry Birds continues to soar as the game has now reached 140 million downloads worldwide, according to an executive with its publisher Rovio Mobile.
The download numbers represent a major surge from the 100 million downloads? reported by Rovio in March, and puts Angry Birds further into the ranks of the top selling games of all time.
Rovio has big ambitions for China. The company aims to reach 100 million downloads of Angry Birds this year. The company also believes it can make Angry Birds one of the most recognized brands in China.
China is potentially a large market for Rovio. The country has 889 million mobile phone users, according to the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
The phenomenon of this bird flinging game is such that gamers spend around 200 million minutes every day (16 years every hour) tapping away at their screens. The game consistently ranks at the top of paid application lists from the USA to the UAE.
Sources: bbc, guardian, fosspatents, mofonu,? macworldme