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Patent troll Lodsys free to continue claims binge as Apple loses court battle

Apple last week lost a battle with patent troll Lodsys after the Cupertino firm's request to dismiss the case was denied.

At this point, Lodsys has secured licensing deals with the iOS developers in question, so Apple's quest to dismiss the case is moot, a Texas district court ruled.

Lodsys made headlines in 2011 for contacting iOS developers and threatening legal action for patent infringement. Given that these app developers had limited funds to properly fight a costly patent battle, Apple petitioned to intervene on behalf of these developers and the court granted it permission to do so last year.

The patent in question covers "methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network," which translates into in-app purchases. Even though Apple has licenses for Lodsys patents, Lodsys argued that those licenses don't extend to app developers.

In the last two years, the developers named in the case have opted to settle with Lodsys - an option that is often less expensive than fighting it out in court. Apple, however, sought protection for all of its six million app developers so that Lodsys would not continue its campaign of lawsuits.

Judge Rodney Gilstrap decided that Apple could not request protection simply because Lodsys might sue a particular developer. "A claim covering six million unnamed app developers is far outside the scope of the instant action," he wrote in his decision.

As Ars Technica noted, however, Lodsys is only picking up the pace with its lawsuits and license demands. It has sued almost two dozen other developers since April, including major firms like Activision, Capcom, and PopCap, as well as smaller studios like Halfbrick, which makes FruitNinja.

In 2011, Google also reportedly stepped into the Lodsys issue, though it is going about it via the US Patent Office.

In August, a report from PatentFreedom found that patent trolls are increasingly targeting Apple. The organisation found that Apple has been hit with 171 patent troll lawsuits since 2009, 24 of which were filed in the first half of 2013.