Apple Backs Developers in Lodsys Dispute

Apple has weighed in on the recent dispute between its developers and a company charging patent infringement -- and come down firmly on the side of developers.

The dispute involves the company Lodsys, which sent out letters to selected iOS developers last week, claiming that use of an in-app buying technology violated its patent, and are requesting payment for use of the app. If payment isn't received, users may face possible legal consequences.

Apple's legal department has fired back very quickly, and basically told Lodsys to pound sand. In a letter reproduced on the Macworld Web site, Apple states its position in forceful language in the first paragraph:

"There is no basis for Lodsys' infringement allegations against Apple's App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple's license rights."

The letter is from Bruce Sewell, Apple's senior vice president and general counsel, to Lodsys CEO Mark Small. As of Monday afternoon, no official response had come from Lodsys.

Apple also insists that its license deal with Lodsys protects developers:

"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 ... 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."

Sewell further contends that Lodsys is trying to control "post-sale use" of the technology and that Lodsys' claims will not stand. The letter ends by asking Lodsys to "immediately" withdrawal the notice letters sent to developers that ignited the firestorm.

The news is sure to elicit a huge sigh of relief from the developer community. Many iOS developers are small outfits without the means to fight patent lawsuits; they would likely just stop developing on the platform, and move to Android or other outlets. With Apple throwing its full weight behind them, though, those fears should be allayed.

For example, one developer, Konstantin Anoshkin, tweeted his delight: "Thank you, Apple, for protecting us from Lodsys! The news made my day." Another, Vlad Georgescu, said "Way to go Apple!" Similar sentiments came from a developer identifying as "Stephen X": "nice to see Apple sticking up for their developers. Roll on round two!"

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.