Kaspersky Lab calls Lodsys out on patent trolling and wins

Kaspersky Lab calls Lodsys out on patent trolling and wins

Summary: Rather than settle out of court, Kaspersky Lab has called Lodsys' patent bluff and managed to see the lawsuit dismissed.

TOPICS: Legal, Patents

Kaspersky Lab has played a game of chicken against Lodsys over a number of patent infringement claims and come out on top. In 2011, a number of companies and developers, including Kaspersky Lab, received legal threats over the alleged infringement of a number of patents belonging to Lodsys.

Kaspersky Lab chief intellectual property counsel Nadezhda Kashchenko said that the patents in question were about "collecting users' perceptions about the product, including licence purchase, renewal, and upgrades with computer applications". Kashchenko indicated that the complaint lay with practices that shouldn't be patented, and were so broad that many technology companies would find themselves in Lodsys' sights.

"For example, purchasing an upgrade within a computer application would fit, which is quite a universal practice."

The security company's CEO Eugene Kaspersky put it another way:

"Well, if a product allows the user to provide feedback, for example by pressing the 'report error' button, that's a patent violation! No, really! It's a bit like patenting the idea of the internet without its practical implementation."

In March 2011, Kaspersky Lab was one of 55 companies that was approached by Lodsys demanding compensation for patent infringements. According to Kashchenko, 51 other companies settled out of court with Lodsys at the time. Symantec, Hewlett-Packard, and Samsung sought to take the matter to court, but, according to Kaspersky, dropped out of the legal battle a few weeks out.

Lodsys would have had to prove in court that Kaspersky Lab had infringed its patents and should cough up the $25 million in compensation. However, seven days before the trial was to start, Lodsys withdrew its claims and the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.

Kaspersky said that Lodsys did not even have the courage to show up in court.

"Our position is firm. No concessions to the trolling scum and IT racketeers. We call on all other IT companies to keep on fighting and not give up. Only then will it be possible to get rid of the patent parasites once and for all," said the security vendor's CEO, Eugene Kaspersky.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said it demonstrates that Lodsys is "doing everything it can to avoid a ruling on the merits of its claims".

"Faced with the prospect of having to actually prove its case, Lodsys surrendered. Lodsys would rather get nothing than see a binding decision on the merits of its claims," EFF staff attorney and policy analyst Daniel Nazer wrote.

Nazer also congratulated Kaspersky Lab on its win, saying that when patent trolls are forced to litigate, they frequently lose or give up. But although the battle may be won, he said that the war on patent trolls is far from over.

"Kaspersky Lab's victory in this case will not stop Lodsys. Since it surrendered before a decision on the merits, Lodsys can continue to use its vague patents and the cost of litigation to leverage settlements. Ultimately, we need fundamental patent reform to stop the trolls."

Topics: Legal, Patents

Michael Lee

About Michael Lee

A Sydney, Australia-based journalist, Michael Lee covers a gamut of news in the technology space including information security, state Government initiatives, and local startups.

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  • End in Sight?

    Kaspersky has provided an example for others faced with the threat of troll litigation. Hopefully their example is followed and we can be rid of trolls once and for all. I'm betting the Apple App developers were please in any event.
    • Agreed

      Hopefully the patent trolls will be put down, even all the way up to the likes of Apple. I own some of their products (which would keep me from being branded a 'hater'), but the principle of patenting an idea without so much as a prototype is ludicrous. For example, patenting the unlock via gesture idea is stupid because one can claim we have been using gestures since the dawn of the PC era. One could argue that hitting the 3-finger salute on a windows NT box would be considered a 'gesture'. It's all in how you use the language.
  • Isn't the real issue...

    ...that the Patent Office grants patents for things that are obvious and trivial, that are prima fascia, unpatentable?
    • You are absolutely correct GrizzledGeezer

      Just to show you how absurd the patents are, I once looked for one of the patents Microsoft claims to own, on which Linux allegedly infringes. What I found was shocking. Microsoft does indeed own a patent on how to mount a filesystem, but the patent is so broadly worded that technically, CP/M, Mainframes, UNIX System V, GEOS (Commodore users might remember that well) and practically every other OS ever written infringes upon it. And what was the date of this patent? I don't recall the month and day, but it was granted in 2000. Think about it! GEOS was popular in the 80's and 90's. UNIX came out in the 60's. CP/M is what Microsoft copied to get DOS 1.0. All of these systems which predate the patent now infringe upon the patent. It is no wonder Linux infringes on some 200+ patents owned by Microsoft, if Microsoft has many more bad patents like this one. The real reason Microsoft never sued anyone over the patents is that they know the patents are BS, and that is why even Linus Tourvalds cannot get a list of violated patents. Well, he can, but he has to sign a non-disclosure/noncompete agreement to get the list of patents that his baby is accused of violating. Microsoft, despite all the objections to the contrary, is a patent troll, too. They are just waiting for the time when they get into the SCO Group's situation before they strike with the patents.
      Garry Hurley Jr
    • You are 99-44/100% correct, GrizzledGeezer

      The Latin phrase you meant to use is prima facie, normally taken to mean "sufficient to establish fact or raise a presumption unless disproved." With that one caveat, I agree with the rest of what Garry Hurley Jr. wrote.
  • Not that great...

    Unfortunately, all Kaspersky did (and I guess, all it could do) was protect itself. Lodsys can still harass others for these silly patents, because they withdrew and avoided a court ruling on the patents.
  • The patent problem is that ...

    ...the patent office is an employer. When we look at the patents issued it is clear that something is wrong. Think about it, what prevents these large corporations from putting a mole in the patent office for the simple reason of approving patents ? I believe this to be the case. We should start to check who issued the patents and do background check on these persons, I believe it will then become crystal clear.
  • Fight Back

    This is a prime example why everyone including big corporations should stick to their guns when they know they're right and find themselves in the sites of scumbags like Lodsys. I've seen companies give in and pay out millions to stay out of court and I think they deserve what they got. If you don't have the cahones to stand up for what's right, then you have no business running a business.....
  • all software patents are just as bad..

    they should be, at best, copyrighted documented code.. not function.. but the patent office is never going to admit they messed up this badly.
  • All the big companies use bogus patents to try and keep new players out

    The patent system is very broken and because of the large number of them it is getting harder for the patent office to check if a new patent is similar to any previously filed with them. They do as much searching for obvious matches as they can in an allotted time unable to search every record due to the share numbers on file before granting them and then rely more on earlier patent holders to show a new patent is invalid after it is granted by filing a court case to have it invalidated.
    Android was getting hammered left and right by patent lawsuits that would have shut down any other similar start-up. The only reason it managed to overcome them to gain market share was the fact Google had big pockets and they managed to pick up a bunch of their own patents from a firm that was going under. They then used those to leverage license share agreements to shut down a lot of the lawsuits.
    The idea behind patents was meant to improve innovation and allow for inventors to gain some money from their work. There are a large number of real patents also that the inventor gets no money from as they had no choice but to sell them for a small sum to patent trolls because they could not get funding to produce them or they ran into debt. The patent trolls rather than actually doing something with them simply sit on them for years or decades till someone without knowledge of the original patent comes up with a similar idea. They then they seam to wait till the invention that infringes on the patent is well establish and generating the business money before they hit up the business and claim a huge whack of their profits. Patents these day are like a field full of landmines that a company must walk through. If they step on the wrong patent mine it could cripple or kill the company. They need very good layers to help detect them before they step on them or defuse any they do step on. Most small businesses unable to afford the protection needed will inevitably hit a patent landmine and be killed off. The carcases will also be picked over by the patent trolls for any valuable patents they might also have helping them to put out more patent mines.