Oracle Sues Lodsys, Seeks to Invalidate Patents

Rhett Pardon

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. — Patent troll Lodsys Group, which last month sued five adult entertainment companies alleging infringement, must respond to a declaratory complaint waged by software giant Oracle.

In a suit filed on Friday, Oracle is asking a federal court in Milwaukee to invalidate four Lodsys patents, including U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078, which is at center of a complaint against the five adult companies.

Lodsys last month named as defendants RK Netmedia, Playboy Enterprises, Vouyer Media, Score Internet Group and FriendFinder Networks' Penthouse in a consolidated suit over the "078" patent.

For more than a year, and continuing today, Lodsys has sent out scores of demand letters to adult entertainment companies asking them to license its patent, which purports to provide interactive "methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network," including interactive online advertisements, subscription models and data collection.

The suit against the five adult entertainment companies points to specific websites where Lodsys has found violations. The sites named with the defendant companies include Playboy.com, RealityKings.com, Score's 18Eighteen.com, VoyeurMedia.com and Penthouse.com.

While the adult companies are not parties to Oracle's declaratory suit against Lodsys, the latest legal volley could help adult companies navigate through the patent troll's demands.  

Oracle said in the complaint that Lodsys “has repeatedly threatened numerous Oracle customers” — Walgreen Co., Recreational Equipment and Epicor — over the use of web features Lodsys claims to own and that those customers claim that Oracle is obligated to indemnify them with respects to the suit.

Oracle counsel in the suit said that the "078" patent is invalid because they can produce nearly 50 similar patents that offer "prior art."  If an invention has been described in prior art, a patent on that invention is not valid.

Oracle's 16-page complaint asks the court to declare invalid the "078" patent and three others — U.S. Patent Nos. 5,999,908; 7,133,834; and 7,620,565 — because they fail to meet the conditions of patentability.

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