Smucker’s Sues Lodsys, Says “No!” to Patent Jam

The J.M. Smucker Company is mad as hell at Lodsys, and the jam and jelly maker isn’t going to take the firm’s demands for patent licensing fees anymore.

Lodsys is a patent owner that routinely alleges that companies are violating patents in its IP portfolio that cover web commerce, information gathering, and product customization. Companies that don’t agree to Lodsys’s demands often find themselves in patent lawsuits. Companies like Apple and app developer start-ups.

But not Smucker’s. It sued first (Read the lawsuit below)

No sir! The company decided that it wasn’t going to just sit back and wait to get into a sticky legal jam with Lodsys. Faster than you can say PB&J, Smucker’s chose to sue Lodsys first, and try to get a court to crush any apparent patent shakedown like fresh grapes for a batch of jelly.

In November, Smucker’s General Counsel Jeannete L. Knudsen received a letter from Lodsys (below) alleging, that the company was violating four Lodsys patents:

We have reviewed your use of the Lodsys Patents and have prepared the enclosed claim chart demonstrating at least one instance of how you utilize the inventions embodied in the Lodsys Patents. The images used in the charts are representative only and in addition to the charted claim of the referenced patent, you should consider the remaining claims of that patent and the other Lodsys patents both with respect to the charted utilization and to other products and services offered by you. (Emphasis added)

The November 7, 2011 letter went on to say that the company was offering Smucker’s “The Lodsys Licensing Opportunity” that it would consider a “non-litigation arrangement” if the company contacted CEO Small “within 21 days of receipt of this letter.”

The letter’s closing paragraph listed two law firms representing Lodsys.

November 7, 2011 Lodsys Letter to The J.M. Smucker Company

After researching Lodsys a bit, Smucker’s learned that other companies fought back and challenged Lodsys’s patent usage claims. It learned that at least seven companies sued Lodsys in Wisconsin seeking declaratory judgements that they were not infringing any patents.

Following their lead, Smucker’s opted to get out of a jam this week, suing Lodsys first. Will Smucker’s make toast out of Lodsys’s patent claims?

Read the lawsuit:

Complaint for Declaratory Judgment,
The J.M. Smucker Company v. Lodsys, LLC