IOS developers hit by Patent Troll
May 21, 2011
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Are you looking to make your fortune with your first ever iPhone app? Better hold off for the moment if you intend using the upgrade option to move from a free to a paid app. Lodsys, a Patent holding firm are claiming that they own the rights to that in a very broad sweeping patent.
Several individual developers and some small companies have already received letters demanding that they license the use of the “upgrade” feature within 21 days of face a lawsuit. Many apps are using upgrade or in-app purchasing in their apps and the Apple API provides the framework to allow developers to do just that. However, Lodsys has opted not to go directly to Apple but aimed themselves directly at the programmers instead. It appears that Lodsys claim that Apple has licensed from them the right to use in-app purchases but that it doesn’t extend to third party developers.
As the fear of this action being extended to others, developers are now calling for a boycott on the use of the upgrade and in-app purchase features until Apple takes action against Lodsys to quash this threat as none of the programming firms targeted so far would be able to fight the legal case themselves.
I think it likely that Apple will intervene. WWDC kicks off soon and i am sure that they don’t want this overshadowing the proceedings. Also, If Lodsys sues or imposes licensing fees on iOS programmers, it’s going to hurt the app building ecosystem for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Also, Apple takes 30 percent of each in-app sale, so it would lose money if Lodsys were to succeed.