Android Dev: Lodsys Sent Me Patent Infringement Letter
Lodsys, a patent holder that has threatened iOS developers with legal action for "infringing" on its patent, may have expanded its targets to include Android developers.
On an Android discussion thread, a developer self-identified as "markusn82" claims to have received a letter from Lodsys that his Android-based app may have violated its patents on in-app purchase technology such as an upgrade from a free version to a paid one. The writer doesn't say which patent Lodsys is referring to, but he implied that it was the in-app upgrade that prompted the letter. "We recently implemented in-app purchases for our
Android application," he states.
Lodsys has sent letters to numerous iOS developers over the past weeks; this is apparently the first Android developer to go public with his notification from Lodsys. Whether Lodsys has notified other Android developers is unknown - the writer asked if others have had a similar experience, but none on the thread have confirmed a similar letter. CNET is reporting that "markusn82" is part of the company Clapfoot Inc, which makes the game "Tank Hero" as well as several others.
The writer echoes complaints from many of the iOS developers that feel threatened -- namely, a lack of resources to fight patent infringement lawsuits:
Google taken any action on this issue yet? Has Google given direction
to any developers that have been hit by this? We are obviously a small
shop and are not financially capable of defending ourselves over a
In the case of iOS, Apple entered the fray shortly after the developer complaints, telling Lodsys unequivocally that its licensing of the in-app upgrade technology covers the developers who include it in their apps. As of this writing, Google had not yet officially responded to any complaints about Lodsys patent infringement claims.
Also as of this writing, Lodsys has not responded publicly to the Android patent infringement issue. But in an earlier blog posting responding to the iOS furor, the company hinted that developers on Android and Microsoft mobile OSes could also be vulnerable. Lodsys states:
"...it’s a logical question for a business that has created applications on multiple platforms. Google is licensed for its nameplate products and services. Also, Microsoft is licensed for their nameplate products and services."
Lodsys is requesting 0.575 percent of the U.S. revenue from developers for use of its patents. It claims that the license that covers the platform vendor -- e.g. Apple, Google or Microsoft -- doesn't cover the app developer.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.