Patent troll Lodsys — the company who threatened to sue multiple iOS indie devs on Friday for using Apple’s own in-app purchasing mechanism — has responded to the widespread furor over their actions in a series of Q&A posts. And guess what? It turns out we were all wrong about them being dicks. In fact, they’re the real victims here! Boo hoo!
Over on their blog, Lodsys claims that far from being a “parasite” or “troll,” they’re actually just like any company selling a product or service, and that like any business, they need to “get value for the assets it owns.” That their product is a broad verbal description of a technology they never actually created, and that their method of “getting value” for their “assets” is by extorting the small indie developers of the App Store one at a time… well, Lodsys doesn’t seem to think there’s anything wrong with that.
Shrugging off complains that their patents are too broad, Lodsys claims that all patents seem obvious in hindsight. In fact, Lodsys claims that by pursuing indie devs for licensing fees, they actually encourage invention and innovation, not clamp down upon it.
So far, these are the typical weasel excuses of the patent troll. But Lodsys’s most interesting revelation comes when responding to criticisms that they are attacking App Store devs instead of Apple itself. Lodsys claims that the reason they are attacking indie devs is because they’ve already worked a licensing agreement out with Apple.
Apparently, Apple, Microsoft and Google have already licensed Lodsys’s in-app and upgrade link patents… but only for their own personal use. Apple has not approached Lodsys for an App Store wide license. Consequently, they had no choice but to go after the little guys directly.
Lodsys’s game here seems obvious. They’re trying to milk more money out of Apple, Microsoft and Google by targeting App Store devs and threatening to undermine the very underpinnings of the App Store. Indie devs are just a casualty of a broader money-making move.
What’s particularly rich about this is that App Store devs can’t sign licensing agreements with Lodsys even if they wanted to, because such an agreement would violate the iOD Developer Program License Agreement.
Make no mistake: indie devs aren’t actually the target here. Lodsys is just being particularly scummy in the way it tries to renegotiate an existing license with Apple. One wonders, though, if Lodsys will find that they quite have the dragon by its tale when Apple finally arises angrily from slumber.