The Guardian’s Apps Blog reports that a growing number of non-US-based app developers are withdrawing their applications from the US versions of Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market for fear of patent litigation from companies such as Lodsys, the patent troll who has filed a number of suits against app developers. The article covers developers such as Scottish developer Fraser Speirs, who removed his products from US app stores and tweeted, “Screw you, Lodsys.”

The growth of patent lawsuits over apps raises serious issues for all the emerging smartphone platforms, because none of the principal companies involved – Apple, Google or Microsoft – can guarantee to protect developers from them. Even when the mobile OS developer has signed a patent licence – as Apple has with at least one company [Lodsys] currently pursuing patent lawsuits – it is not clear that it has any legal standing to defend developers.

The article notes that another software developer, Kootool Software of Mumbai, has notified a number of companies including Microsoft, Apple, Google, and RIM that they are in violation of a patent on providing journal feeds, The avalanche of patent claims may just be beginning.

Is this potential patent threat going to have a serious negative impact on US app stores? It is probably too soon to tell. But unless smartphone companies can do something to support developers who come under fire from patent trolls, the possibility is definitely there.


  1. In the US, we spun patent law off from law in general by creating a special court system for patent appeals. That’s where we went wrong. The result is what we might expect. We have a patent system run of, by, and for patent lawyers. The more patents issued, the more patents disputed, the more they earn. An corporate IP lawyers make money by the bucketful. I saw that when trademark lawyers had their world convention in Seattle. There’s little hope Congress will do anything. Obama and the Democrats don’t listen to anyone but the two beneficiaries of recent mega-bailouts, unions and the deep pocketed financial institutions that gave us the subprime mess. (Read Reckless Endangerment.) The Republicans might be willing to pay attention, but only if Silicon Valley came calling with enough political contributions. That’s unlikely. Silicoln Valley’s super rich are almost all politically correct Democrats. In the world of politics, slavish followers like them get nothing but an occasional speech. I short, we’re screwed. What these international developers are doing is a warning. You can avoid the horrors of our patent system by simply not marketing your products here.

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