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.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appleapple iphoneintellectual propertyiospatentLodsyslegalsoftware

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

Jared Newman

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?