Google has filed a request with the United States Patent on Trademark Office (USPTO), asking that 2 of the patents Lodsys is using the troll iOS and Android developers be re-examined.
“We’ve asked the US Patent Office to reexamine two Lodsys patents that we believe should never have been issued,” Google senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker told Wired.com in a statement. “Developers play a critical part in the Android ecosystem and Google will continue to support them.”
While re-examination could get the patents thrown out, the more common result seems to be a narrowing of focus. Likewise, while the ongoing Lodsys lawsuits could be paused pending the re-examination, there's no guarantee of that either.
It's nice to finally see Google take some action, though Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents seems non-plussed:
While I agree with Google's senior vice president and general counsel Kent Walker that those patents should never have been issued, I don't consider those reexamination requests -- unless they will be accompanied by more forceful and useful measures very soon -- a serious commitment to supporting Android app developers against trolls. If this is all that Google does, it's too little, too late, and calling it "half-hearted" would be an overstatement.
Apple, by contrast, has filed a motion to intervene in the cases. Apple, Google, Microsoft and others are already licensed under an agreement with previous patent holder, Intellectual Ventures. There was a theory that the Intellectual Ventures license might prevent Apple et al from trying to invalidate the patents, so either that's not the case or Google is going for it anyway.
Meanwhile, the whole situation continues to cost developers time, money, attention, and sanity. (Which is part of why this matters.