Another day, another lawsuit. Lodsys (http://www.lodsys.com) filed suit against seven developers for patent infringement in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. The patent holding firm has been targeting small iOS developers with notices of patent infringement for providing in-app purchase and/or Apple App Store purchase links within their apps.
The company said developers had to obtain a license within 21 days or face the prospect of a lawsuit. Lodsys has been criticized by some for targeting app and website publishers instead of Apple itself.
On May 22, Apple’s chief lawyer Bruce Sewell announced that Apple’s license to the Lodsys patents gave Apple’s third party developers complete and “undisputable” freedom to use the covered inventions without paying royalties or fearing lawsuits.
““Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license,” Sewell wrote.”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.”
On its web site Lodsys had this to say: “There was a very positive reaction in the press and blogs. Apple appeared to give the Developer community what they wanted. Unfortunately for Developers, Apple’s claim of infallibility has no discernable basis in law or fact.”
“The [Apple] letter was very surprising as Apple and Lodsys were in confidential discussions and there was clearly disagreement on the interpretation of the license terms of Apple’s agreement. Before, during and after these interactions, Lodsys has carefully considered this issue and consulted several legal experts to consider Apple’s claims. We stand firm and restate our previous position that it is the 3rd party Developers that are responsible for the infringement of Lodsys’ patents and they are responsible for securing the rights for their applications. Developers relying on Apple’s letter do so to their own detriment and are strongly urged to review Apple’s own developer agreements to determine the true extent of Apple’s responsibilities to them.
“In a private communication, simultaneous to this posting, Lodsys has sent a detailed legal position on the license interpretation issue, in writing to Apple that has been previously only verbally communicated. Apple has our permission to publish that letter, in its entirety, should developers wish to review our dispute and evaluate the risks with their own counsel. While we have nothing to hide, we cannot unilaterally publish the letter because it refers to information that was obtained with an obligation of confidentiality to Apple and we do not have their permission to do so.”
— Dennis Sellers