Apple Lifts Club, Prepares To Smack Down Patent Troll Lodsys

Apple Lifts Club, Prepares To Smack Down Patent Troll Lodsys

Patent troll Lodsys has been suing iOS indie developers for using Apple’s own in-app purchasing mechanism. Sleazily, the company has claimed that they had no choice but to go after the little guy because Apple refused to cough up an App-Store-wide patent license.

No surprises here: Lodsys’s actions have roused the Cupertino Colossus, and they might not like the response they get from disturbing the sleeping giant’s slumber.

According to the Guardian, Apple is now “actively investigating” Lodsys’ threats to sue small, indie iOS developers unless they license their patents.

While Apple has yet to take a public position in the matter, it’s pretty clear that they’re going to have to intercede on behalf of developers. Lodsys’ move threatens to destabilize Apple’s App Store business, specifically in regards to in-app purchases. Meanwhile, developers have their hands tied, as Apple’s own IOS Developer Program Agreement specifically prevents them from agreeing to Lodsys’ outrageous terms.

Meanwhile, Lodsys has become a meme-style verb amongst the iOS dev community. This morning, Twitterific devs The Iconfactory were hit with an extortion letter from Lodsys, asking for them to settle for a license fee within 21 days or go to court. The letter prompted Iconfactory dev Talos Tsui to tweet that his company had just been “Lodsysed.” I think we can turn that into a hashtag, don’t you?

  • gareth edwards

     Can somebody explain in plain english how all this Patent trolling works?

  • Jon Grumm

    Many times it is a company that buys generic patents from other companies, or one that files and obtains patents. It is typically something ridiculously generic. Like “purchase consumer good through an electronic medium” (completely made that up, but you get the idea.) They then sue smaller companies to try to get them to license the patent as they don’t have the legal resources to go through a lengthy legal battle in the courts.

    Many of these suits are filed in legal districts where the judges that preside have taken financial contributions to their campaigns from the said trolls, or have in the past been sympathetic to patent trolling.

    These companies exist for basically the sole purpose of suing people for money, they produce nothing valuable and are a scourge on society in general.

  • Dean

     Jon Grumm gave a brief, but pretty accurate, explanation above.

  • Ronald Stepp

    I think, at the least, Apple should provide free court support including lawyers and such to any developer actually taken to court.  Would love to see the face of lodsys troll lawyers when they have to face off against the legal might of Apple when they specifically targeted developers to avoid that.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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