Finnish game developers claim to be targeted by nuisance lawsuits
The Texas-based technology company Lodsys is threatening several Finnish game developers with lawsuits alleging patent infringement.
Lodsys has long been locked in disputes with several companies that have produced iPhone applications for games, claiming that it has patent rights to technology used in the games. In late July the company sued the Finnish company Rovio, which created the Angry Birds game.
Helsingin Sanomat has learned that Lodsys has approached a number of Finnish mobile phone game developers by letter. On Monday the game developers convened with their lawyers to map out a strategy for dealing with the action.
In its letter Lodsys claims that a patent that it holds covers an internal payment system used in apps in the Finnish games. Monetary demands for additional licensing fees are nevertheless relatively small.
KooPee Hiltunen, the director of Neogames, the Finnish National Centre of Game Business Research and Education, sees the Lodsys demands as more of a nuisance than a serious threat. “This is a phenomenon that is part of operating on a global market. When the Finnish game sector continues to grow, developers of games need to start preparing for these types of events”, Hiltunen says.
Game developers are waiting to see how negotiations between Lodsys and Apple proceed, and how the suits against Rovio and others go ahead.
Lawyer Pekka Tarkela notes that Finnish companies confront different types of patent demands constantly.
He says that this situation is different, as it targets a bigger group of Finnish companies involved in developing applications by large technology companies such as Apple.
Tarkela’s law firm Borenius is not involved with the cases.
Losys is considered to be a so-called patent troll; instead of developing technology itself, such companies buy large numbers of patents for the purpose of making demands for licence payments.
“Typical of the letters is that the recipient does not know if the sender is bluffing, and how far the demands will be pushed in court”, Tarkela says.
Court processes in patent disputes tend to be long and expensive, and consequently many companies are willing to settle for a payment simply to avoid a trial.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Rovio, developer of Angry Birds game, reports Q1 turnover of EUR 14 million (14.4.2011)
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