iOS developers threatened with patent lawsuits

At least five iPhone app developers are facing legal threats over their use of in-app purchases in iOS.

A company called Lodsys claims to own four patents covering the in-app purchase mechanism found on iOS devices, and is seeking licensing fees from at least five individual developers, the Guardian reports. Some developers have received hand-delivered documents threatening patent infringement lawsuits if they don't pay up.

"No idea what to do ... They seem to be effectively claiming the rights to in-app purchase, but going after me, not Apple," James Thomson, developer of PCalc, wrote on Twitter. Thomson has alluded to Lodsys' involvement but not confirmed it outright. Other developers confirmed Lodsys' involvement to the Guardian and MacRumors.

Lodsys is no stranger to legal attacks against big companies. In February, Lodsys filed patent lawsuits against Brother, Canon, HP, Lexmark, Hulu, Lenovo, Motorola, Novell, Samsung and Trend Micro.

It's not clear whether Apple has already licensed the relevant patents. The Website of Dan Abelow, who invents patents and uses Lodsys to license them, lists Apple as a licensee, but he told the Guardian that he doesn't know which companies licensed the patents in this particular case.

If Apple has a license for the relevant patents, the threats to developers is a simple cash grab. If not, Lodsys' decision to go after small developers is likely a bullying tactic intended to gain settlements from developers who can't afford a lawsuit. These settlements could then be used by Lodsys as ammunition against Apple.

In any case, Apple will probably want to get involved sooner than later. Not only could early settlements by app developers come back to haunt Apple in a future lawsuit, it could also make the App Store seem less hospitable to small-scale programmers, who are increasingly relying on "freemium" business models. Thomson said on Twitter that he's reached out to Apple's legal department for guidance, but there's no official word from Apple on the matter.

Follow Jared on Facebook and Twitter for even more tech news and commentary.

Tags Appleapple iphoneiosintellectual propertylegalLodsyspatentsoftware

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?