Ars Technica reports that Apple is again stepping up to the plate to defend its developers from patent troll Lodsys, stating in its most recent filing that it has every right to intervene in Lodsys’s lawsuits against its developers. Apple contends that its licenses to Lodsys’s technology extend to developers, who would not have the resources necessary to represent Apple’s interests in the suit.
An interesting note in the piece is that Apple’s defense acknowledges Lodsys’s patents as valid, and is based on the doctrine of “exhaustion”, that its license extends to third-party developers. However, others are insisting that Lodsys’s patents aren’t even valid in the first place. Some suspect that the terms of Apple’s license agreement may prevent it from trying to have the patents invalidated.
It’s a little strange to see this example of “good legal Apple” at the same time we see what may be “not-so-good legal Apple” at work elsewhere in the e-reading world. Apple lawsuits have halted sales of the Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet in Australia and Europe, claiming the device looks too much like the iPad. Apple is also targeting Motorola’s Xoom.
Given that there is only so much you can do to make any tablet look different from any other tablet, these suits seem a little unreasonable (especially given some accusations that Apple actually manipulated photos to emphasize similarities). Perhaps Apple just thinks that nobody else should be allowed to make a tablet after it.