In what Adam Engst calls a backdoor approach to suing Apple, patent holding firm (read: patent troll) Lodsys is filing suits against independent iOS developers for infringement.
TidBITS reports that the developers of PCalc (my favorite calculator app) and Shanghai Mahjong, among others, are being sued for the use of in-app purchases. Lodsys owns four patents “directed to systems and methods for providers of products and/or services to interact with users of those products and services to gather information from those users and transmit that information to the provider.” In other words, they claim to own the patents to in-app purchasing, which is obviously Apple’s mechanism. Engst has an analysis of the implications to iOS developers and what Apple’s responsibility is in the matter.
It is unclear if Apple is on “solid legal footing with in-app purchasing,” Engst wrote. He theorizes that it could be “cheaper [for Apple] to pay for forgiveness later than to ask for permission.” They certainly have the cash for a payoff and this is likely what Lodsys is hoping Apple will do.
It’s definitely a scumbag move to go after small developers but it certainly got the attention of Apple. Fortunately, James Thomson is charging forward:
PCalc 2.4 is now live on the store, in both full and lite versions. “So no more runnin’. I aim to misbehave.”
Thomson has notified Apple’s legal department and is waiting for their response.