Joshua Schnell, May 16, 2011
Remember that company last week? The one that was suing independent developers for using in-app purchases? Turns out they’re feeling the PR heat, and in response, they’ve decided to fill everyone in on why they’re suing independent developers and not Apple Inc.
In an article titled Responding and Clarifying, Lodsys, LLC has attempted to clear up any misinformation that exists around the internet. Turns out, they don’t actually clarify all that much. Simply put, Lodsys, LLC is just trying to “get value” from assets that they already own. According to Lodsys, they own patents for the in-app purchase practice, and they intend on cashing in on its popularity.
Lodsys had this to say in their Q and A posts:
The economic gains provided by the Lodsys inventions (increase in revenue through additional sales, or decrease in costs to service the customer) are being enjoyed by the business that provides the product or service that interacts with the user. Since Lodsys patent rights are of value to that overall solution, it is only fair to get paid by the party that is accountable for the entire solution and which captures the value (rather than a technology supplier or a retailer).
They do have a point, and if anything, this is probably a clear indication that something is wrong in the patent world. Under the current system, Lodsys does have the right to charge people who use their patents, and in this case, they believe that iOS developers are making dollars on the back of their patents.
Sure, sue the little guy
According to Lodsys, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have all licensed the patents. That’s why they haven’t sued the big guys for patent infringement. But, having licensed their patent doesn’t mean that third-parties have the right to use them and profit from them. From Lodsys’ world-view, Apple’s allowed use the patents; third-party developers are not.
So, sue the little guy they shall.
It’s pretty obvious why they’re doing it
Despite Lodsys’ claims that they aren’t patent trolling for money, it’s pretty obvious that they stand to gain from suing independent developers. As it stands, they’re asking for a small percentage of revenue. It’s being reported that the number is as small as 0.575 percent of total revenue. It’s not exactly going to break the bank of independent developer, but it will certainly add up for Lodsys.
Whether you think it’s right or wrong isn’t the question here. The real question here is whether or not Apple Inc. does anything about it. Will the developers be left blowing in the wind, and on the hook for paying the piper because they implemented an in-app purchasing system that Apple not only suggested but also provided tools for?
I highly doubt that Apple knew that this is how this would play out. If I had to guess, Apple’s watching how this plays out, and will probably be on the scene in no time.
The Guardian is reporting that Apple’s legal team is already investigating the patent infringement claims. They believe Apple will issue a comment by the end of the week.
We should also point out that Florian Mueller also had this to say on his blog:
It’s actually questionable whether Lodsys’s patents would survive a well-funded effort to have them declared invalid,” adding: “Even if they could be upheld under the system as it stands, there’s no way that those patents represent a fair deal between society and” Lodsys, which bought them from the inventor.
We’ll keep adding updates here as they roll in today.
Photo Credit: William HookFollow @macgasm