Judge throws out Apple motion against iOS app patent troll Lodsys

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A Texas judge has dismissed a motion that would have allowed Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to intervene on behalf of iOS developers targeted in a lawsuit filed by patent holding company Lodsys, effectively crippling Apple's ability to defend the thriving iOS application ecosystem.

The Lodsys suit, originally filed in May 2011, contends iOS developers including Rovio Entertainment, Atari, Electronic Arts and Square Enix are violating Lodsys intellectual property right by implementing in-app purchase options within their iPhone and iPad applications. Apple quickly filed a motion to intervene in the suit, claiming it properly licensed Lodsys' patents and that those licenses extend to the APIs it provides to registered iOS developers. Texas district judge Rodney Gilstrap granted the computing giant's request in April 2012, setting the stage for Apple's legal team to square off head-to-head with Lodsys and freeing developers and publishers from securing their own legal representation.

But last week Gilstrap dismissed Apple's intervention request, allowing Lodsys to settle all cases with defendants. "A claim covering six million unnamed app developers is far outside the scope of the instant action," Gilstrap wrote in his order. He suggested that Apple could sue Lodsys directly, although that case could be tossed out as well: Lodsys has already recognized the validity of Apple's license and said it won't sue Apple, identifying iOS developer partners as the source of friction.

Multiple defendants targeted by Lodsys have already settled out of court, although a few others have filed countersuits. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia recently filed a civil action suit in Wisconsin, home of Lodsys CEO Mark Small. Lodsys had asked Stewart's company to pay $20,000 in connection with four magazine apps optimized for Apple's iPad tablet, and the Stewart suit contends that the apps do not infringe on Lodsys patents.

Consumers have downloaded more than 50 billion iOS applications since the App Store opened in 2008. As of July 2013, third-party iOS developers have raked in more than $11 billion through App Store sales, with half of that total earned during the previous four quarters.

For more:
- read this Ars Technica article

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