Apple Stands Behind iOS Developers in Patent Fight

Apple has officially intervened in a patent lawsuit that was initiated by Lodsys against several small iOS application developers who operate independently of Apple. These developers petitioned for Apple’s legal help and financial resources in defending against the patent case after receiving letters last month from Lodsys over alleged patent infringement of in-app purchasing technology.

The suit filed against developers by Lodsys, a patent holding company, cites two patents that were allegedly infringed. One patent is U.S. Patent No. 7,620,565 which is related to a customer-based design module. The other patent is U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078 and is in regards to making purchases inside an app.

The U.S. District Court for the eastern district of Texas, where the suit was filed, is likely to allow Apple’s involvement, which is good news for the developers. Apple claims it should be allowed to intervene because it already has a license to the patents in dispute.

Apple’s lawyers argue that this license also expressly permits Apple to offer and otherwise make available to its developers’ products and services that embody the inventions contained within each disputed patent. In addition, Apple claims that the license extends to the APIs it provides its developers for app development. Some of the specific apps that Lodsys has targeted in the suit include Twitterific, Mega Poker, Shadow Era, Labyrinth, Quickoffice, Daggers and Hearts.

Lodsys has responded that Apple’s claim of infallibility has no basis in law or fact, and that developers who continue to infringe will be targeted. They argue that Apple is only an agent of the developer with respect to the distribution of apps. Lodsys also said that it will pay $1,000 to any developer it sends a letter of infringement to, as a guarantee that those developers are not protected by an Apple patent license.