Monday, June 6, 2011

MacroSolve sues another 20 companies (now 30 in total) over electronic forms patent

Three weeks ago I reported on MacroSolve's first two lawsuits accusing a total of 10 companies (some of them small mobile app developers) of infringement of an electronic questionnaire (i.e., forms) patent. I later told the story of my telephone conversation with MacroSolve's CEO, in which I told him honestly that I want him to fail.

Now MacroSolve filed another lawsuit in the Eastern District of Texas -- its third one so far, all of them over the same patent. The following 20 companies are named as defendants in the latest suit (in the order in which they are listed in the complaint):

  1. Antenna Software (of New Jersey) over its Antenna Mobility Platform and/or Volt Platform

  2. Cengea Solutions (of Winnipeg, Canada) over its Cengea Mobile Software Framework and/or services

  3. Data Systems Intentional (of Kansas) over its dcLINK platform and/or MOBILEApps products and/or services

  4. Environmental Systems Research Institute (of California) over its ArcGIS and/or ArcPad products and/or services

  5. Invensys Systems [doing business as] Invensys Operations Management (apparently a subsidiary of a British company) over its Wonderware IntelaTrac application platform products
    and/or services

  6. TrueContext Mobile Solutions Corporation (of Ontario, Canada) over its TrueContext ProntoForms products and/or services

  7. Spring Wireless USA, Inc. (of Washington state with another U.S. office in Texas) over Spring Wireless mobility platform products and/or services

  8. Zerion (of Virginia) over its iForm Builder mobile platform products and/or services

  9. BizSpeed (headquartered in Georgia) over its goRoam mobile platform products and/or services

  10. Syclo LLC (of Illinois) over its Agentry Mobile Platform products and/or services

  11. Xora, Inc. (headquartered in California) over its Xora GPS mobile enterprise products and/or services

  12. Spira Data Corp. (of Alberta, Canada) over its Spira Mobile Enterprise Application Platform products and/or services

  13. Survey Analytics (of Washington state) over its Mobile Research Platform products and/or services

  14. DataMAX Software Group (of California) over its RFGen Mobile Framework products and/or services; an Oracle partner

  15. Ventyx, an ABB subsidiary with offices in the US (including one in Texas) over its Service Suite Mobile Workforce Management Platform products and/or services

  16. Air2Web Inc. (headquartered in Georgia) over its Mobile Development Suite application development platform products and/or services

  17. General Data Company, Inc. (headquartered in Ohio) over its Enterprise Mobile Computing products and/or services

  18. Realtime Results (headquartered in Missouri) over its Open Door Sales Solution products and/or services

  19. Millenium Information Technology, Inc. [doing business as] MiT Systems, Inc. (of California) over its MiT EzSales Mobile products and/or services

  20. Agilis Systems, LLC (headquartered in Missouri) over its SmartForms products and/or services

On Friday, Article One Partners (a patent-related crowdsourcing company) announced a bounty of $5,000 for invalidating MacroSolve's patent-in-suit. I think Article One Partners does some good stuff, and I really hope MacroSolve's patent will be invalidated. However, some of the entities sued by MacroSolve lack the resources to afford a proper defense in a U.S. patent lawsuit, and therefore can't fight this out in court. Even if someone found perfect prior art today and if every expert felt strongly that it would help take down MacroSolve's patent-in-suit, it would still take a lot of time before the patent would (in a best-case scenario) be invalidated, and those lawsuits in East Texas would continue at least for the time being.

It would be great if the 30 different companies sued by MacroSolve so far could organize a joint defense -- or if not all of them, then at least a group of a significant size. Those defendants who have significant resources (and some of them clearly do, especially some of those named as defendants in today's lawsuit) should have a strategic interest in making sure that no one is forced to give in early and settle. MacroSolve will use any such settlement in two ways: it will use the money it receives to fund further litigation, and it will try to create the impression that its patent is valid (since some "licensed" it, even if only because they couldn't afford to defend themselves in court).

I call on all 30 defendants to try to form as broad an alliance as possible among them, and I keep my fingers crossed that Article One Partners' initiative will do away with that patent.

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