Patent trolls are in every industry. These companies have nothing better to do than going after small and large players in various markets. Since the iPhone app business is booming, it is not a surprise to see some of these companies go after app developers. Apple does get sued from time to time but some of these patent trolls are taking on smaller players in developers instead of fighting the big gorilla in the room. MacroSolve is the latest company going after app developers, this time over storing and managing data online.
MacroSolve has so far sued 10 app companies. Apparently, any app company that collects data online and sends it all to a central server could expect to be noticed by these folks. With some app developers struggling to cope with Lodsys’ demands for payments, it is clear that we need a patent reform in this country sooner rather than later. Many of these companies don’t aim to take developers out of the game. They just want to be paid for holding sometimes bogus patents. Invalidating these patents is not a cheap or fast process either.
Apple is not sitting idle though. It is now actively investigating the patent claims made by Lodsys. Lodsys has already posted a FAQ page explaining its actions:
it is the owner of the hotel who is responsible for the overall service (value proposition) that guests pay for, not the owner of the land that the hotel may be leasing, not the travel agent that sold the reservation, not the manufacturer of tools such as hammers, nor the provider of materials such as nails or steel beams, which may be used in building the hotel; nor is it the outsourced linen washing service or the architect of the building who is responsible.
One has to give Lodsys credit though. In the spirit of fairness, the firm is going after as many developers as it can. Essentially, app developers are being held responsible for a set of capabilities Apple added to its platform. At this point, it is not clear how developers can fight back against Lodsys’ claims. But these types of patent trolling makes mobile platforms less attractive for developers.