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EFF calls on Apple to defend devs from patent troll

updated 05:20 pm EDT, Fri May 20, 2011

Patent holder suing over in-app purchase system

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has called on Apple to defend iOS developers against several "patent troll" lawsuits aimed at technology used for in-app purchases. The group accuses the patent holder, Lodsys, of threatening developers for using an in-app purchase system that is mandated by the iOS terms, rather than pursuing a case directly against Apple.

"Apple's failure to defend these developers is troubling and highlights at least two larger problems: patent trolls and developers' vulnerability when harassing and counter-productive patent litigation comes around," the EFF wrote in a blog post.

Apple is reportedly immune from being hit with an infringement suit, as the company licenses the technology that is the focus of Lodsys' lawsuit threats. To avoid such situations, the EFF suggests developers must investigate all of the iOS technologies used in each app to determine if anything infringes on another company's patents.

"For many small developers, this requirement, combined with a 30 percent fee to Apple, is an unacceptable cost," the EFF added. "Even careful developers who hire lawyers to do full-scale patent searches on potential apps surely would not expect to investigate the technology that Apple provides. Instead, they would expect (with good reason) that Apple wouldn't provide technologies in its App Store that open its developers up to liability - and/or would at least agree to defend them when a troll like Lodsys comes along."

It remains unclear if Apple will choose to address the situation if Lodsys chooses to move from threatening letters to actual lawsuits.

by MacNN Staff



  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Would hate to be wrong on this one...

    but it would seem obvious Apple will defend it's so called "eco-system" and it's 3rd party developers with all it's might - and that can be a powerful defense indeed.

  1. facebook_Raul

    Via Facebook

    Joined: May 2011


    Patent Trolling?

    It seems that Lodsys patent is close to expiration and perhaps they see this as an opportunity to get as much as they can. But there are things to think about before we start the finger pointing.
    •First and more important, which are the terms of such a license?
    •Apple provides the API (which includes the IP in question) to developers.
    There are other developing tools like Ansca Corona SDK. Are they licensed?
    •Apple charge developers a signup fee plus a 30% of the sale of the apps, and Apple makes money of the in-app purchases, to be fair, I think that Apple should cover those expenses if they really exist, but my guess is that they don`t.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    not a patent troll

    Or, if they are a troll, they're a good one, since they got Apple to pay them a license fee to use their patent.

    And someone at the company most likely looked at the license and said "OMG! What a bunch of idiots! The contract only licenses the tech to Apple and its products. That doesn't include apps running on their products! Woohoo! More money coming in!"

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