Angry Birds Hit by Angry Trolls

The makers of Angry Birds are being sued over alleged patent violation. And judging by the history of the plaintiffs, Rovio should probably take it as a compliment.

The addition of Rovio to an ongoing lawsuit makes it one of eleven defendants, alongside gaming heavyweights such as Atari, Electronic Arts and Take-Two.

The patent concerned was applied for by inventor Daniel H Abelow in 2006 and issued in 2009. Covering a “Customer-Based Product Design Module”, its technology involves:

“A network, including a product sub-system that interacts with a user, gathers information from the user, communicates the information to the product’s vendor, and receives new preprogrammed interactions from the vendor for future interactions with the user.”

A quick look through the patent shows a string of diagrams illustrating how the system works. And it appears to be one of the least justifiable patents in history. Perhaps I’m missing some innovative technical detail, but it appears that the patent attempts to claim credit for the idea of software gathering feedback from a user.

So are the evil gaming giants destroying a struggling tech business with their shameful intellectual property violations? Well, that’s the funny thing. The suit has been brought in the name of Lodsys, LLC. Although Abelow is listed as being from Massachusetts in the patent filing, Lodys is incorporated in East Texas, which just so happens to be the court district commonly held to be most favorable in the country to plaintiffs in trademark cases.

And if you’re looking for some Lodsys games for your iPhone, you’ll be out of luck. Visit the company’s website and click on the “About Lodsys” page and you’ll find this extensive description of the company’s work:

“The patented technologies of Lodsys, LLC are available for licensing.”

Who’s legally in the right in this case is a matter for the courts. But as far as creating a public impression goes, I think it’s clear which side is the birds and which side is the greedy pigs.

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