apple-logo1In a follow-up to the story of the other day about Lodsys the iOS in-app-purchase patent troll, Apple has fired off a letter to Lodsys telling the company in no uncertain terms to stop pestering Apple’s developers. Engadget has the complete text of the letter, and Ars Technica has some analysis.

Essentially, Apple is rebutting Lodsys’s claim that “The scope of [Apple’s] current licenses does NOT enable them to provide ‘pixie dust’ to bless another (3rd party) business applications” with, “Oh yes it does!”

Thus, the technology that is targeted in your notice letters is technology that Apple is expressly licensed under the Lodsys patents to offer to Apple’s App Makers. These licensed products and services enable Apple’s App Makers to communicate with end users through the use of Apple’s own licensed hardware, software, APIs, memory, servers, and interfaces, including Apple’s App Store. Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys’ patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys.

That being said, Florian Mueller at the FOSS Patents blog points out that Lodsys could still sue developers anyway:

App developers have to understand that Lodsys can still sue them. Apple’s letter does not prevent Lodsys from doing that, and it would be a way for Lodsys to pursue its agenda. It wouldn’t make economic sense for Lodsys to sue a few little app developers based on the damage awards or settlements Lodsys might get out of such a lawsuit. However, for Lodsys it would still be worth it if this resulted in a lucrative settlement with Apple, or if it (alternatively) scared potentially thousands of app developers so much that they would pay. Lodsys would sue some app devs only to set an example, and for the ones to whom it happens, that would be an unpleasant situation.

Even if Apple steps up to pinch-hit for you in court, as Mueller suspects they probably would, being sued would still be an unpleasant and potentially time-consuming and costly experience for the sued developer.

Still, it’s good to know that Apple has taken steps to protect its interest in keeping its developers from being sued by patent trolls. It may still take a while before we know how this all pans out.


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