This morning, James Thomson, one of the developers behind the iOS apps PCalc and PCalc Lite, tweeted that his group received legal documents outlining a threat of a patent infringement lawsuit based on the use of in-app purchasing within PCalc Lite.
According to Cult of Mac, Thomson’s paperwork doesn’t seem to be PCalc Lite-specific in any way, as the legal documents just discuss in-app purchasing in generic terms.
Patrick McCarron, a developer for MobileAge, also received legal paperwork today, with very similar language as in Thomson’s letter. Rob Gloess of Computer LogicX, the company behind Mix & Mash, has also been contacted, according to MacRumors.
What’s concerning here is that independent developers are being targeted, and not Apple. These developers are simply using the in-app purchasing setup that is supported by Apple’s iOS SDK. While usually Apple gets hit by patents, putting the squeeze on developers is a new trick.
The group behind the legal threats, according to Cult of Mac, is Lodsys, LLC. The group is basing these “troll suits” on US Patent 7222078. The patent was filed in December 2003 and is credited to a developer named Dan Abelow. Abelow sold his patents to holding Lodsys in 2004.
Developers were given 21 days to respond. Thomson and others have contacted Apple Legal before responding to Lodsys