After indie dev James Thomson was threatened with a lawsuit earlier today by a patent troll called Lodsys for using Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism in his pCalc iOS app, his first instinct was to play things cautious and not release the update scheduled for today.
Several hours later, though, and Thomson is feeling bolder: he’s decided to release the update to pCalc anyway. But will the other devs hit with shakedowns today be so plucky and defiant?
Meanwhile, at least four other developers have been hit with Lodsys shakedowns, including Dave Castelnuovo (Pocket God), Matt Braun (MASH), Patrick McCarron (MobileAge) and Rob Gloess (Mix & Match).
At this point, several sources confirm that Lodsys is the mysterious company going after indie developers. Based in East Texas, Lodsys is the classic example of a patent troll, buying up companies and extorting licensing fees via the threat of lawsuits. That they are based in East Texas, which is notoriously friendly to patent holders, would seem to cinch their patent troll status.
Most of the developers who have been hit up with Lodsys shakedowns are now consulting with Apple, but it’s not cut-and-dry that Apple will help them. According to Apple’s iOS Paid Apps agreement, developers are the ones responsible for “claims that any of the licensed applications and/or the end-user’s possession or use of those licensed applications infringes the copyright or other intellectual property rights of any third party.”
Even so, it’s hard to believe Apple won’t step in to fight this themselves. Any success Lodsys has in suing indie devs threatens to discredit and destabilize the App Store in total. Let’s hope Cupertino comes out swinging in defense of the indie iOS devs sooner rather than later.