When we talk about the so-called “patent wars,” we are usually talking about legal swipes by major companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google, and others over technologies involved in their phones, tablets, and various services. It’s not very often we talk about the little guys. They’re not usually very involved in the circus that has become the US patent system.
That changed last year when patent holding firm Lodsys—apparently owned by another patent holding firm, Intellectual Ventures—began targeting independent developers for patent violations. But the developers in question—from iOS to Android and beyond—didn’t think they were violating anyone’s patents. At least for iOS developers, they were making use of APIs provided by Apple that Apple had licensed from Intellectual Ventures. And although Apple has recently been green-lighted to intervene in Lodsys’ lawsuit targeting some third-party developers, there are many, many others left without the help of a multinational corporation on their side.
As a result, the Appsterdam Legal Defense team was started in August of 2011 by a group of iOS developers in response to growing patent threats by non-practicing entities (NPEs). Their first move was to bring on board intellectual property attorney Michael McCoy, but the group went into 2012 still trying to fight Lodsys and other NPEs without the kind of legal budget and know-how that companies like Apple can take for granted.