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Rovio Sued Over Angry Birds Patent Infringement

Developer Rovio and its famed physics-based game Angry Birds has become one of the primary targets in a recent patent infringement lawsuit.

The complaint was originally filed by patent licensing firm Lodsys at the end of May, but was recently amended to remove Vietnamese company Wulven Games. In its place, five highly-popular (and highly lucrative) game companies were added including Rovio, Electronic Arts, Atari, Square Enix and Take-Two Interactive.

According to the lawsuit, Rovio is accused of infringing at least one of Lodsys' patents with Angry Birds for Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS.

"Defendant Rovio has infringed and continues to infringe, directly, indirectly, literally, under the doctrine of equivalents, contributorily, and/or through the inducement of others, one or more of the claims of the '565 patent," the lawsuit reads. "Rovio makes, sells, uses, imports, and/or offers to sell infringing applications, including but not limited to Angry Birds for iPhone and Angry Birds for Android, which infringe at least claim 27 of the '565 patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271."

As for the other developers, the lawsuit covers The Sims 3 for the iPhone (EA), Atari's Greatest Hits for iPhone and Atari's Greatest Hits for iPad (Atari), Big Hit Baseball for iPhone and Big Hit Baseball for iPad (Square Enix), and 2K Sports NHL 2K11 for iPhone (Take-Two). The lawsuit also names Combay Inc., Iconfactory Inc., Illusion Labs, Michael G. Karr (Shovelmate), Quickoffice and Richard Shinderman as defendants, totaling eleven.

Lodsys began making legal waves in early May by filing patent infringement lawsuits against James Thomson, the developer behind Pcalc for iOS, and Computer LogicX, the company behind the Mix & Mash and Mix & Mash LITE apps for iOS.

"Our app, Mix & Mash, has the common model of a limited free, lite, version and a full version that contains all the features," said Computer LogicX owner Rob Gloess. "We were told that the button that users click on to upgrade the app, or rather link to the full version on the app store was in breach of US patent no 7222078, we couldn't believe it, the upgrade button!?!"

As MacRumors reports, the patent in question was filed back in December 2003 "as part of series of continuations on earlier patent applications dating back to 1992." The patent was originally owned by Dan Abelow who sold it along with his "extensive portfolio of patents" to Lodsys in 2004. Apple claims that its license to the Lodsys patents extends out to its third-part developers, giving them complete and undisputable freedom "to use the covered inventions without paying royalties or fearing lawsuits." But Lodsys disagrees, stating that Apple's claim of infallibility "has no discernible basis in law or fact."

And as seen with the latest amended lawsuit, Android developers aren't immune to the Lodsys legal sweep. FOSS Patents, the blog that discovered the amended lawsuit that now includes Angry Birds for iOS and Android, reports that Lodsys has issued a number of assertion letters to Android developers. "Google's silence and inactivity about this issue makes it likely that Lodsys will sue more Android developers if they don't pay," the blog reports.

Just another day, just another patent infringement lawsuit.