Just a week ago, when we wrote our update on Lodsys v. Brother et al. (see “Brother, Canon, HP, and Lexmark Respond to Lodsys Patent-Infringement Lawsuit”), Lodsys was a little-known patent-licensing company. What a difference a week makes. Lodsys became infamous among the Apple community on Friday, May 13, when Lodsys began issuing letters to various developers of applications for Apple’s iOS mobile phone operating system, warning them that they were infringing U.S. patent 7,222,078 (the ‘078 patent), “Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network,” and encouraging them to license its technology or face legal action. This is one of the three patents also at issue in Lodsys v. Brother et al. The press coverage that has since followed has been enormous—hundreds of articles have since appeared in mainstream publications and websites and industry blogs on the threat to iOS developers. Almost all of the coverage has been extremely critical of Lodsys, its practices, and its motivations. In response, Lodsys had updated its website with a blog that provides more information about the company and its decision to target iOS developers.
Unlike many other analysts and journalists covering the story, we are actually less interested in the threatened legal action against Apple developers and far more interested in the legal action Lodsys has already taken against printers OEMs Brother International, Canon U.S.A., Hewlett-Packard (HP), Lexmark International, and Samsung Electronics as well as other firms such as Hulu, Lenovo, Motorola Mobility, Novell, and Trend Micro. For those similarly interested in printers and supplies, the firestorm of controversy ignited by Lodsys’s decision to target iOS developers has shed more light on the company that claims that some of the top printer OEMs have infringed its patents.