Kaspersky Lab calls Lodsys out on patent trolling and wins

Rather than settle out of court, Kaspersky Lab has called Lodsys' patent bluff and managed to see the lawsuit dismissed.
Written by Michael Lee, Contributor

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."

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