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Monday, August 01, 2011, 05:40 pm PT (08:40 pm ET)

Indie developer organizing against Lodsys, patent trolls with 'Operation Anthill'

An independent developer has founded a coalition, codenamed "Operation Anthill," to help the iOS developer community fight back against legal threats from patent licensing companies like Lodsys.

Mike Lee, a former Apple employee and founder of Netherlands-based development initiative Apperstdam, on Monday announced plans for the coalition, which he called "an 11th hour rally," Ars Technica reports.

"Operation Anthill" has hired technology attorney Michael McCoy to put together the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team, as well as a related fund. McCoy will put into motion the coalition's efforts to protect independent software developers with a "three-pronged attack:" legal action, lobbying for legislative reform and mobilizing a "massive media marketing campaign" to raise public awareness.

Lee has pulled together a staff or roughly 60 people to help with the effort.

"Intellectual Ventures and their ilk are many tentacled beasts who use thousands of shell companies to do their dirty work. When they send blood-sucking tentacles like Lodsys into our community, we need to cut them off," Lee wrote. "Eventually the head will figure out to stop losing tentacles."

He went on to explain the coalition's codename, noting that stepping on an anthill in Texas draws an attack from swarming, biting ants. "You could, in theory, crush them one by one, but it’s much easier to just avoid anthills," he said.

"Let App Makers be as the ants of East Texas, minding their business until someone invades their anthill. Then Swarm! Swarm! Swarm!" he continued. "We will let the patent trolls know: if you attack one indie, you attack all indies, and we will file every motion we can against you, we will attack your patents, and we will show you for the mafioso thugs you are."

Earlier this year, Lodsys drew accusations from the iOS development community of being a patent troll when it filed a suit in East Texas against a number of smaller developers for infringement of a patent related to in-app purchasing. The court in the East Texas district has become the default court for "patent trolls" because it generally favors patent holders and has a quick turnaround time with its cases.

Lodsys, a non-practicing entity, has since added larger developers to its suit, such as gaming giant Electronic Arts and Rovio, the maker of the popular "Angry Birds" game.

Apple has filed a motion to intervene on the case, but is awaiting approval from the court. As is to be expected, Lodsys has opposed the motion.

"We're going after Lodsys for sure, but understand the ultimate target is Intellectual Ventures," Lee told the publication, adding that "they are the Mordor to these trolls," a reference to the villain's lair in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.

Though Lee has yet to line up other developers for the coalition, he has issued a call to his colleagues in the industry: "You have two options: join us, or wait to be next." According to him, the purpose of Monday's announcement was "to rally and cheer the community. To give people hope. To get people ready."