updated 11:50 am EDT, Wed July 13, 2011
Says 'elicited perception' important factor
Lodsys is now claiming that its patents cover cross-promotional links in apps, not just in-app purchases, according to one developer. The creator of iFighter 1945, EpicForce, remarks that several weeks ago, it received a letter stating that a "Get Full Version" link in the game violates a Lodsys patent. "The 'Get Full Version' link is actually for the purchase of Super Laser: The Alien Fighter," EpicForce writes. "This is just a 'cross promotion' and I think almost every developer is doing it. It's neither an In-App purchase nor a 'Lite to Full' conversion."
EpicForce says that it wrote back to Lodsys explaining the situation, but that it just recently received a response from a Harry Snodgrass, identified as Lodsys' licensing agent. "The patent we sent a claim chart for has a claim that is directed at eliciting from a user, through a user interface presented by the product or service, a perception of the user of the product or service," part of Snodgrass' letter reads.
"The patent specification sets forth many different types of perceptions and how they may be elicited," it continues. "One of those is through interactive services and transactions. Specifically, a perception that can be elicited is the desire of the user to indicate their desire to purchase something that is related to or complementary to the product or service.
"In this specific case, the perception being elicited through the offer to the user to buy 'Super Laser: The Alien Fighter' through the interface presented by iFighter 1945 is, 'Do you find our games valuable enough to buy another game we think you are interested in from us?'. The elicited perception is returned to you (you are the vendor of both iFighter and Super Laser) through the revenue you receive from the app store for the purchase of the new game."
Lodsys' definition of the patent could have broad implications. Although only one developer is known to have been targeted in this way so far, it could mean a much wider number of developers will be served with legal threats in the future. Apple has motioned to intervene on behalf of people selling in the App Store, but Google has yet to come to the rescue of Android developers. Lodsys is also in the process of suing a number of higher-profile companies, such as Adidas, Best Buy, CVS and Sam's Club (Walmart).