As if the controversy surrounding Apple’s mandatory in-app purchase clause was not troubling enough, now independent developers who use Apple’s in-app purchase system are starting to be hit by lawsuit threats from a patent troll who claims to have patented the in-app purchase process. The developer of the iOS scientific calculator app pCalc recently received a patent-infringement lawsuit notice via FedEx, and a number of other developers are getting hit as well. The patent troll in question is a company called Lodsys.

It’s not clear why they’re starting with small-time developers rather than big users (or potentially big users) of in-app purchases such as magazine, e-book, and media companies. Or, for that matter, Apple itself, who developed the technology that the patent troll is suing over. Perhaps they thought they could squeeze some license fees out of companies too small to put up a good defense.

However, it seems likely Apple will have a strong interest in helping to defend these cases, given that they have the potential to affect a significant portion of the revenue model of its app store. Hopefully this troll can quickly be slapped down.


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