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Patent troll Lodsys demands $5,000 from Martha Stewart. That was a bad idea

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(s mso) 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(s goog) and Apple(s aapl) 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

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17 Responses to “Patent troll Lodsys demands $5,000 from Martha Stewart. That was a bad idea”

  1. Steve Dutch

    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.

    • Roy Vasser

      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.

  2. 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.

    • Nicholas Modesto

      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.

  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.

      • Roy Vasser

        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.