17 Comments

Summary:

A patent troll that bleeds small developers for their revenue has so far fought off the mighty Apple and Google. But now its luck may run out as it must tangle with Martha Stewart.

Martha Stewart Ralph Rucci - Front Row - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014
photo: Getty Images

Who knew Martha Stewart had it in for patent trolls? The decorating queen’s media empire has filed a lawsuit to crush Lodsys, a shell company that claims the Martha Stewart Weddings iPad app infringes its patents.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Lodsys, the firm — which doesn’t make any products or do anything other than sue people — gained infamy two years ago by launching a wave of legal threats against small app makers, demanding they pay for using basic internet technology like in-app purchases or feedback surveys.

Many of the app companies, which are usually one or two-person operations, simply capitulate and agree to hand over a portion of their revenues rather than go up against Lodsys’ battery of lawyers and a Texas jury. But not Martha.

In a complaint filed this week in federal court in Wisconsin, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia asked a judge to declare that four magazine iPad apps are not infringing Lodsys’ patents, and that the patents are invalid because the so-called inventions are not new.

The complaint explained how Lodsys invited the company to “take advantage of our program” by buying licenses at $5,000 apiece. It also calls the Wisconsin court’s attention to Lodsys’ involvement in more than 150 Texas lawsuits.

In choosing to sue Lodsys and hopefully crush its patents, Martha Stewart is choosing a far more expensive option than simply paying Lodsys to go away. The good news is that the decorating maven has some unlikely allies in the campaign: tech rivals Google and Apple are also lining up against Lodsys in an effort to protect the app developers, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation this week filed an anti-Lodsys brief of its own.

But as Joe Mullin of Ars Technica noted in May, the troll has responded to its critics by simply going on a new rampage, suing dozens more small companies and also its critics. Meanwhile, its odious progenitor, Intellectual Ventures, is in the midst of seeking $3 billion in new funds to expand its patent trolling business.

Members of Congress from both parties, state governments and President Obama have all proposed measures to stop the trolls, but have so far come up short. Maybe Martha Stewart is tough enough for the job.

Here’s the lawsuit:

Martha Stewart v Lodsys Troll

  1. Are these fools crazy. Martha’s done Jail time. She’s a bad bad woman.

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    1. At least she did her time. Your banker buddies got away scott free.

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  2. I hope she bankrupts them

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  3. No reputable inventor should ever associate themselves with patent trolls. Patent trolls like Intellectual Ventures add billions of dollars annually to the cost of goods and services in the US. Patent trolls should be criminally prosecuted for extortion.

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    1. That’s not the trolling that is bad, that’s the practice of giving patents for the obvious thing that is bad.

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      1. It is both. With many wanting to shrink the government, there will be fewer and less experienced patent reviewers. Trivial patents will be granted and must be challenged in court and overthrown. These trolls must be stopped or it will be the end of small business.

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  4. Is it legal to hunt Trolls in Texas?

    No, I mean HUNT them… hunger games style.

    Should be.

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    1. Nicholas Modesto Thursday, September 26, 2013

      Based on the filing, it looks like Martha is taking the fight to Lodsys in Wisconsin.

      * On information and belief, Lodsys owns the Asserted Patents.
      * On information and belief, Mark Small is the Chief Executive Officer of Lodsys.
      * On information and belief, Mr. Small conducts Lodsys’s business from an officelocated in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, within this jurisdictional district. Accordingly, oninformation and belief, Lodsys’s primary place of business and/or headquarters is located withinthis judicial district.
      * On information and belief, Mr. Small lives and works in Wisconsin, holds a Wisconsin driver’s license, is registered to vote in Wisconsin, and is a resident and citizen of Wisconsin.

      If this goes gets through and goes to court in Wisconsin, look out patent trolls because those vacant offices in Marshall Texas won’t save you.

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  5. Abdullah Abu Adam Thursday, September 26, 2013

    Way to go Martha!!

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  6. Mark Small messed with the wrong person. Nice to know they’re taking this to Wisconsin where Mr. Small actually works (if you could even call it that). Where a jury will likely get to decide if they actually want this kind of business conducted in Wisconsin.

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  7. If she wins it would be a good thing

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  8. I want to see Martha kick those Internet trolls in the ass along with those lawyers using their degrees to commit white collar Internet crime! Go Martha Stweart!

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  9. Two words, folks, Tort Reform

    Conservatives may be anti-intellectuals when it comes to evolution but liberals are just as anti-intellectual for opposing this long overdue reform.

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    1. Small business has been the loser with these trolls. Law suits are just too expensive. It is no coincidence this troll is based in conservative Texas. Their legal system overwhelmingly find for the “bigger guy”. Tort Reform would make no difference al all in these cases.

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  10. GO MARTHA!

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