The latest chapter in the saga of patent troll Lodsys has come to light today. Despite having been told by Apple that it did not have grounds to sue developers for infringement, based on those developers’ use of Apple’s in-app purchasing technology, Lodsys decided to go ahead and file lawsuits against seven developers. It actually filed three days ahead of its original deadline, in response to what it characterized as "Apple’s threat."
Not surprisingly, Lodsys claims that Apple has it wrong when it says that Apple’s own agreement with Lodsys should cover those third-party developers:
[Apple’s] letter was very surprising as Apple and Lodsys were in confidential discussions and there was clearly disagreement on the interpretation of the license terms of Apple’s agreement. Before, during and after these interactions, Lodsys has carefully considered this issue and consulted several legal experts to consider Apple’s claims. We stand firm and restate our previous position that it is the 3rd party Developers that are responsible for the infringement of Lodsys’ patents and they are responsible for securing the rights for their applications. Developers relying on Apple’s letter do so to their own detriment and are strongly urged to review Apple’s own developer agreements to determine the true extent of Apple’s responsibilities to them.
And Lodsys seems confident enough in its claims that it is offering to pay any developer improperly targeted by an infringement notice $1000 for its troubles.
It certainly promises to be an interesting dispute to watch, especially since in-app purchasing is so important to media applications, such as e-book readers. I wonder who will prevail in the end?