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!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Applelegaliossoftwareintellectual propertypatentapple iphoneLodsys

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

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?