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Apple Defends App Makers Against Lodsys 108

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we-have-more-lawyers-than-you-do dept.
A mere few days after the EFF called upon Apple to Indemnify developers against alleged infringement of Lodsys patents on in-app purchases, Apple has sent Lodsys a letter defending developers. Apple argues that it has a license to the Lodsys patents that extends to individual developers making the Lodsys claims invalid. Hopefully the baring of legal teeth will put this matter to rest.
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Apple Defends App Makers Against Lodsys

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  • Re:In-App purchases (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:08PM (#36221202)

    he was challenged to include that word in every comment

    Looks like he took it up :)

  • Re:In-App purchases (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:14PM (#36221268)

    Here [slashdot.org] is why you see the ladyboy reference...

  • Apple's letter (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stratoukos (1446161) on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:20PM (#36221338)

    Full text of Apple's letter to Lodsys:

    BY EMAIL AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL

    May 23, 2011

    Mark Small
    Chief Executive Officer
    Lodsys, LLC
    [Address information removed]

    Dear Mr. Small:

    I write to you on behalf of Apple Inc. ("Apple") regarding your recent notice letters to application developers ("App Makers") alleging infringement of certain patents through the App Makers' use of Apple products and services for the marketing, sale, and delivery of applications (or "Apps"). Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. 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.

    Because I believe that your letters are based on a fundamental misapprehension regarding Apple's license and the way Apple's products work, I expect that the additional information set out below will be sufficient for you to withdraw your outstanding threats to the App Makers and cease and desist from any further threats to Apple's customers and partners.

    First, Apple is licensed to all four of the patents in the Lodsys portfolio. As Lodsys itself advertises on its website, "Apple is licensed for its nameplate products and services." See http://www.lodsys.com/blog.html [lodsys.com] (emphasis in original). Under its license, Apple is entitled to offer these licensed products and services to its customers and business partners, who, in turn, have the right to use them.

    Second, while we are not privy to all of Lodsys's infringement contentions because you have chosen to send letters to Apple's App Makers rather than to Apple itself, our understanding based on the letters we have reviewed is that Lodsys's infringement allegations against Apple's App Makers rest on Apple products and services covered by the license. These Apple products and services are offered by Apple to the App Makers to enable them to interact with the users of Apple productsâ"such as the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and the Apple iOS operating systemâ"through the use or Apple's App Store, Apple Software Development Kits, and Apple Application Program Interfaces ("APIs") and Apple servers and other hardware.

    The illustrative infringement theory articulated by Lodsys in the letters we have reviewed under Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078 is based on App Makers' use of such licensed Apple products and services. Claim 1 claims a user interface that allows two-way local interaction with the user and elicits user feedback. Under your reading of the claim as set out in your letters, the allegedly infringing acts require the use of Apple APIs to provide two-way communication, the transmission of an Apple ID and other services to permit access for the user to the App store, and the use of Apple's hardware, iOS, and servers.

    Claim 1 also claims a memory that stores the results of the user interaction and a communication element to carry those results to a central location. Once again, Apple provides, under the infringement theories set out in your letters, the physical memory in which user feedback is stored and, just as importantly, the APIs that allow transmission of that user feedback to and from the App Store, over an Apple server, using Apple hardware and software. Indeed, in the notice letters to App Makers that we have been privy to, Lodsys itself relies on screenshots of the App Store to purportedly meet this claim element.

    Finally, claim 1 claims a component that manages the results from different users and collects those results at the central location. As above, in the notice letters we have seen, Lodsys uses screenshots that expressly identify the App Store as the entity that purportedly collects and manages the results of these user interactions at a central location.

    Thus, the technology that is targete

  • Re:In-App purchases (Score:5, Informative)

    by nahdude812 (88157) * on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:49PM (#36221664) Homepage

    So, Apple developers are protected.

    Actually I don't see this being as clear cut as that. Apple merely says it thinks developers are included in Apple's license. Apple does not offer to indemnify developers.

    So depending on how clearly defined the licensing agreement is between Apple and Lodsys, developers may be protected, may not be protected, or maybe worse yet, could questionably be protected (causing a developer to have to defend themselves at great personal expense, with no guarantee of success).

    Apple should indemnify developers as the EFF requested. Unless and until that happens, Lodsys is free to pursue suits against individual developers, and let the courts decide whether Apple's license covers the developer or not. Like defending yourself against an RIAA lawsuit, even if you win, it probably would have been cheaper to just pay them off.

  • by Ixokai (443555) on Monday May 23, 2011 @04:00PM (#36221790)

    Umm, hello?

    Even if this patent is valid and legitimate (of which I have serious doubts, but IANAL) -- the whole point of this little TFA is that Apple did buy a license; Apple then implemented the technology in their OS, in their devices. That license covers the implementation of in-app purhcases used by app developers: they are covered.

    Lodsys (who was NOT the company nor the "inventor" who first patented the "technology") is trying to extort more money and require licenses from people who do not owe them anything. These people are merely using what Apple is providing. Lodsys claims Apple's license doesn't cover all the app developers who are using Apple-provided and Apple-mandated technology: and Apple's legal department begs to differ.

    I know which one I'd bet on.

  • Re:In-App purchases (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tharsman (1364603) on Monday May 23, 2011 @04:48PM (#36222184)

    Apple does not say it "thinks", their letter boldly states "Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license," [emphasis mine].

    They also state they are prepared to take legal action against Lodsys if they insist to go after developers. If Apple flexes it's legal muscle, it can do a lot of harm to Lodsys, from a simple bankrupting of the company, to a more complex process of having all patents invalidated (resulting in the same, given these patents seem to be their source of income.)

    The real question there is: how effective and fast can that be? Even if Apple manages to submit a lawsuit against Lodsys overnight, I don't think they can stop Lodsys from terrorizing developers and launching lawsuits against them. Given most developers can't afford any level of legal defense, they would be automatically ruined and that alone can result in huge shock-waves in the development community.

    I think this was Apple's "friendly and polite" request to stop, and made public to reassure developer's confidence in Apple's intentions to defend them. Future actions may be done in a private, more direct, manner and next time we hear about this may be either party saying they have come to an agreement and developers will be left alone, or Lodsys saying they don't give a @#$@% and start the lawsuits against developers. The later may happen as early as tomorrow. I would guess dialog between the companies may take a bit longer and we wont hear much until Friday or next week.

We will have solar energy as soon as the utility companies solve one technical problem -- how to run a sunbeam through a meter.

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