The search is on. And for what you might ask? Patent Trolls, it seems.Reports emerging today suggest more patent litigation claims are imminent as more companies pursue smartphone app developers over alleged patent violations.
Oklahoma based MacroSolve Inc have now joined Lodsys in their apps developer legal pursuit, claiming infringements on a recently US registered patent on data management, which it says is applicable to “thousands” of apps.
The patent, no. 7,822,816 is “a significant intellectual property asset to MacroSolve, further advances its position as a leader in the mobile solutions market,’ it said in a statement.
The patent refers to data collection from “a remote computing device” including the creation of a questionnaire and transmitting of information as well as making the responses available online, according to the patent file.
It covers mobile information collection systems “across all wireless networks, smartphones, tablets, and rugged mobile devices and covers fundamental technology in the mobile application space utilized by multiple companies,” it added.
If so, this could provoke a slew of lawsuits to follow for app developers for tablet, smartphone and other remote computing devices and open up a veritable can of worms.
Texas based patent company Lodsys filed several claims this month against iPhone and iPad app developers claiming it holds the patents rights to in-app purchasing system.
MacroSolve is going after both Apple, Android and even BlackBerry apps developers for the patent which was registered in October last.
However, its business appears to have taken a tumble, with sales down to $116,000 – less than half of the figure a year ago.
The company, which describes itself as a pioneer in delivering mobile apps, technologies, is suing 10 developers, according to The Guardian.
Among those are Widget Press, Smart business Forms and On The Spot Systems.
However, many within the industry are indignant of this latest move, with one blog pointing out “anyone who distributes electronic forms via the Internet or to mobile devices and then collects and evaluates the answers could be accused of infringing the patent.”
However, Lodsys insist the remuneration being sought is minimal: “So on an application that sells US$1m worth of sales in a year, the licensee would have an economic exposure of $5,750 pa.”
It is also looking for costs for ” applicable past usage” is also suing Samsung, HP, Lenovo, Motorola and several other big names.
However, there are also fears for the developers who could be forced to go up against massive lawsuits against firms with millions at their disposal.
“If app developers can’t afford to defend themselves in a costly, protracted and risky U.S. patent lawsuit, the patent holder may successfully force them to pay no matter how weak the patent or how dubious the infringement assertion is,” Fosspatents blog also said.
And, handily, MacroSolve has filed its claims in a jurisdiction of Tyler, Texas known by companies for the granting judgements in its favour.
Apple, who have not yet been subject to a file claim are said to be investigating the cases and have not yet made any public comment.