Apple Inc. (AAPL) should be allowed to intervene in a patent-infringement lawsuit against developers of iPhone applications, according to a court filing by Electronic Arts Inc. (ERTS) and ‘Angry Birds’ maker Rovio Entertainment Oy.
Closely held Lodsys LLC filed suit in May, contending that two of its patents for ways to interact with customers are infringed by iPhone applications including “Angry Birds,” Combay Inc.’s “Mega Poker Online Texas Holdem,” and “The Sims 3” by Electronic Arts. Apple has argued in court papers that its license with Lodsys covers the app developers as well and wants to join the case on their behalf.
“The participation of Apple as a party in this lawsuit is critical to the development of the very evidence needed to establish what may prove to be a complete defense to the infringement claims in this action,” the app developers said in a federal court filing yesterday in support of Cupertino, California-based Apple’s request.
Lodsys, based in Marshall, Texas, where the lawsuit was filed, objected to Apple’s request. It said companies such as Electronic Arts and Rovio are big enough to handle their own defense, and there is no evidence that the lawsuit disrupts Apple’s relationship with developers.
Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, is the second-largest U.S. video-game publisher. Espoo, Finland-based Rovio has had more than 250 million downloads of its “Angry Birds” game on mobile phones and other electronic devices.
Other app developers named in the Lodsys complaint are Atari SA (ATA)’s Atari Interactive Inc., maker of Atari’s Greatest Hits for the iPhone and iPad; Iconfactory Inc., maker of Twitterrific; Illusion Labs AB, maker of Labyrinth; Michael G. Karr, maker of Shovelmate’s 69 Positions; Quickoffice Inc., maker of Quickoffice Connect; Square Enix Ltd., maker of Big Hit Baseball; and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO), maker of 2K Sports NHL.
All of the developers named in the complaint also signed the statement in support of Apple being allowed to join the case. Apple has said it needs to be able to protect agreements it has covering more than 425,000 apps.
“This litigation has fundamentally disrupted Apple’s relationships with the developers and with other developers, and places in jeopardy the revenue that Apple derives from those relationships,” the company said in a June filing.
No date has been sent for U.S. District Judge T. John Ward to decide on Apple’s request.
The case is Lodsys LLC v. Combay Inc., 11cv272, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas (Marshall).
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