Lodsys Files Patent Suit Against 5 Adult Companies

May 14, 2012 9:30 AM PST

MARSHALL, Texas — Five of the largest adult entertainment brands have been hit with infringement claims by patent troll Lodsys Group.

Reality Kings parent RK Netmedia, Playboy Enterprises, Vouyer Media, Score Internet Group and FriendFinder Networks' Penthouse unit have been named defendants in a consolidated suit filed on Thursday.

The suit against the five companies follows demands from Lodsys last year against even more adult brands, as well as mainstream ones, over the alleged infringement of U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078.

Numerous adult entertainment companies in June 2011 began receiving  patent infringement notices from Lodsys over the "078" patent, citing the businesses' use of interactive online advertisements, subscription models and data collection.

The patent purports to provide interactive "methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network," according to the Patent Office.

Thursday's suit is the first legal action against adult entertainment companies relative to "078."

Lodsys last year waged legal battles against mainstream companies Canon, Hewlett Packard, Lexmark, Novell and Motorola over "078" and another patent. Other mainstream companies also have faced claims against Lodsys, including Bank of America Corp., Epicor Software Corp., Hoovers Inc., Market America Inc., Network Solutions, Overstock.com Inc., Sleepy's, The Estee Lauder Companies Inc., Becker Professional Development Corp., Cabela's Inc., Charming Shoppes Inc., HSN Inc., Nike Inc., The Men's Warehouse Inc., Tivo Inc., Foster and Smith Inc., Recreational Equipment Inc., Walgreen Co., Rosetta Stone Inc., Dell Inc., AVG Technologies USA Inc., GFI Software Inc., Kaspersky Lab Inc., Raxco Software Inc., Symantec Corp. and Webroot Software Inc.

Some of those suits continue to wend their way through federal courts or have been settled.

In addition, the New York Times, OpinionLab and Foresee, among others, have waged declaratory suits seeking invalidation of the patent holding company's intellectual property.

The suit against the adult entertainment companies points to specific websites where Lodsys has found violations. The websites named with the defendant companies include Playboy.com, RealityKings.com, Score's 18Eighteen.com, VoyeurMedia.com and Penthouse.com.

"Defendants’ infringement is willful and deliberate, including because defendants  became aware of the infringing nature of their respective products and services at the latest when they received a notice letter from Lodsys and/or the filing of Lodsys’ complaint, entitling Lodsys to increased damages ...," the suit said.

The suit seeks treble damages — triple the amount of the actual/compensatory damages — and attorneys fees against the adult companies.

Lodsys, which is based in Marshall, Texas, filed suit at U.S. District Court there.

The federal court in Marshall is a popular one for patent lawsuits. Attorneys say that quick trials and plaintiff-friendly juries are the big draw there. So are the Texas-sized verdicts sometimes handed to winners.

Patent cases are heard faster in Marshall than in many other courts, forcing some defendants to buckle under the pressure of time when trying to sort out complex infringement cases.

And while only about five percent make it to trial in Marshall, patent holders win 78 percent of the time, compared with an average of 59 percent nationwide, according to LegalMetric, a company that tracks patent litigation.

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