X-Plane 10

X-Plane devs sued by Uniloc for patent infringement

Tom Senior at

Uniloc are at it again. They went after Mojang a couple of months back for the infringement of patent 6,857,067 which covers mobile applications that "require communication with a server to perform a license check to prevent the unauthorized use of said application." They've launched a new lawsuit against X-plane developer, Laminar Research, for violation of the same patent.

"I am told that it will cost me about $1,500,000 (one and a half MILLION dollars) to defend this suit," writes X-Plane creator Austin Meyer on the X-Plane site. "This is more money than I have made selling Android Apps in the first place. Under theses conditions, does it make sense for me to be in business?"

Uniloc claim to be "in the business of finding big ideas" according to their site, and a glance at their management strata suggests that they've found many of them inside the head of one Outside General Counsel, Jim Etheridge, who spent 13 years at EFI taking "worldwide responsibility" for legal matters "including intellectual property and all aspects of litigation strategy."

His five years with a Californian IP firm spent "drafting and prosecuting patent applications in the US Patent and Trademark Office" is certainly proving useful, and seems to dovetail nicely with the company's mission to "look at many ideas. Pick an outstanding one. Patent it. Commercialize it. Reap the rewards."

Uniloc reaped an undisclosed figure from Microsoft in a landmark settlement earlier this year (more on Bloomberg). That case took eight years to settle. Bloomberg mention that they've sued Symantec and Adobe over the same patent.

"Speaking for Laminar Research, we used only the technology that was provided to us by Google for copy protection in our Android App ‘X-Plane’" says Meyer. "We used exactly the copy protection Google gave us! And, of course, this is what Google provides to EVERYONE ELSE THAT IS MAKING A GAME FOR ANDROID"

Laminar are co-operating with other companies affected by similar suits. "I have begun a plan to share defense fees amongst the other companies being sued, probably increasing the overall cost of the lawsuit further, but making my defense-cost share only a part of that total," he says.

It'll probably take years for this one to work itself out, which means there's plenty of time to listen to This American Life's When Patents Attack! episode, which offers some interesting insights into the strange world of patents.