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Lodsys lawsuit targets Disney over 'Where's My Water?' iPhone app

Lodsys' two-year campaign to secure licensing fees from iOS app developers took another turn today as the holdings company targeted entertainment giant Disney, alleging patent infringement in Disney's apps, including the popular "Where's My Water?"

Disney's Where's My Water?, now the target of an in-app purchase patent suit.

Lodsys has been suing iOS software makers since 2011, when it first threatened a number of developers with litigation if they did not license from Lodsys technologies related to in-app purchases. The firm holds U.S. Patent No. 7222078, entitled "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network," filed initially in 2003 but dating back to 1992 through continuations to earlier applications. It also holds U.S. Patent No. 7620565, "Customer-based product design module."

Now, Lodsys has expanded its efforts (via Mac Rumors) to include Disney, claiming that "applications such as Where's My Water?... infringe at least claims 1, 15, and 27 of the '565 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271."

Lodsys' complaint — filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Marshall Division — notes that the firm "informed Disney of the patents-in-suit and offered to enter into a licensing agreement that would allow Disney to continue practicing the inventions claimed in patents-in-suit." Instead of entering into such an agreement, Lodsys holds, Disney "chose to continue its infringement."

The firm is requesting that its case against Disney be tried by a jury. The filing also requests that Disney's alleged infringement be found to be "willful from the time that the defendant became aware of the infringing nature of its respective products and services," as such a finding would allow for a tripling of damages in the case.

Aside from Disney, Lodsys has filed suit against nine other app developers in the past few days, including Gameloft and Backflip Studios. The firm is also targeting retailers such as Nordstrom, Godiva, and Burberry, as well as companies including SanDisk, Crocs, General Motors, and HP.

Late last year, Lodsys reported momentum in licensing of its in-app purchasing patents. In October, Lodsys said that more than 150 companies had "obtained the rights to use the Lodsys Group patent portfolio," and that number is now said to stand at more than 200.

In April, Apple was was granted a motion to intervene on the part of developers to put some of its own legal weight behind the developers Lodsys has sued or threatened. Arguing "patent exhaustion," Apple maintains that the license it has already secured for Lodsys' technology in operation of the App Store transfers down to developers making apps for that store.