Friday, July 8, 2011

First two app developers must file answers to Lodsys's complaint on or before July 21

Three weeks after Lodsys sued seven (mostly very small) app developers on May 31, the court issued a summons to all seven defendants. A summons is a formal you-have-been-sued notice.

Today the court records show that summons documents countersigned by at least two of the defendants have been delivered to the court:

E-GOV SEALED SUMMONS Returned Executed by Lodsys, LLC. Michael G. Karr d/b/a Shovelmate served by CM RRR on 6/30/2011, answer due 7/21/2011; Quickoffice, Inc. served on 6/30/2011, answer due 7/21/2011. (Attachments: # (1) Quickoffice) [...]

Note that both of them have until July 21 (less than two weeks from today) to formally respond to Lodsys's complaint.

[Update on July 11] Iconfactory has until July 26. [/Update on July 11]

Three weeks from the date on which the summons is served (in those two cases, that date is June 30) is the usual timeline. However, it's relatively easy for defendants to get an extension by one month "as a matter of course". In this case, it should be particularly easy since Lodsys was recently granted a one-month extension to respond to Apple's motion to intervene.

After a one-month extension, there can also be another extension but that's harder to get, especially if opposed by the other party.

At any rate, things are getting more serious in this lawsuit. A failure to respond to a complaint by a deadline results in a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff. App developers who have been sued by Lodsys need legal counsel now.

Use legal counsel wisely

In my opinion, the most cost-efficient approach for them to use legal help is to obtain blanket coverage from Apple (and/or Google), and otherwise to conclude a license agreement on viable terms.

Yesterday I wrote another blog post on the overall situation facing app developers and strongly recommend a healthy dose of skepticism concerning ill-conceived advice, some of which is motivated by political interests rather than a genuine desire to help developers.

I currently get at least one and typically more than one message a day from app developers who are being shaken down by Lodsys, MacroSolve or others. I keep all of that information confidential unless and until my sources authorize me to blog about certain issues. I will talk about the activities of other patent holders at the appropriate points in time. There's more going on than Lodsys and MacroSolve, and it was really the Lodsys situation that encouraged more and more developers to speak out on this.

It's important that app developers make contact with their peers to compare notes and discuss possible strategies.

Mobile developer community conference on patent issues

In connection with what I just said (app devs should connect with each other), I have a recommendation for all those who live in or have good access to Washington DC: MoDevDC, a mobile developer community "for DC, Virginia, Maryland and beyond" -- whose members write apps for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone platforms -- will hold a conference on mobile app patent issues on Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 6 PM Eastern Time. They will have a panel discussion, and a lawyer will also be present. It would be great if such events could be organized in other parts of the United States and, in fact, other parts of the world.

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