Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Patents Apple

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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple Defends App Makers Against Lodsys

Comments Filter:
  • In-App purchases (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mms3k (2192016) on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:03PM (#36221160)
    So, Apple developers are protected. It also looks like Google and Microsoft have licensed the patents for Android and Windows Phone 7. Technically the in-app purchases also work the same way - via Apple/Google/Microsoft services.

    The big question here is, what about Android mods like CyanogenMod and non-official stores? Android is the only mobile platform of those that offer it. If you aren't using the official channels for your application and have in-app purchases, will you be liable for patent infringement? I have a ladyboy friend who is really interested in mobile development, but this might again be a hit against Android's openness and make her rethink about the situation. Sure, you are protected if you use the official Google channels to do it, but the point of Android is to be open and let both users and developers do it their own way if they want to. I am sure that if you implement the in-app purchases in your independent way, and distribute your application yourself, you also need to get the patent. But what about the third party stores?
    • 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 Relayman (1068986)
        A small point, but I believe Apple licensed the patent before Lodsys got the rights to it. So Apple's license would make no reference to Lodsys.
      • by beelsebob (529313)

        No, it's pretty simple – if you implement something in a patent, you need to pay for it. Apple implemented In-App purchasing, paid for it, and distributed their solution as a dynamic library. None of the developers linking against the dynamic library implemented it, so none are liable. Ofc, IANAL.

      • by Ixokai (443555) on Monday May 23, 2011 @04:43PM (#36222144)

        It seems pretty clear-cut as that; the letter isn't a mere opinion or press release. Its a detailed rebuttel by Apple's legal department, including a cease and desist instruction and a clear statement that they a) are licensed, b) this license covers the use of their API's by developers, and c) they will defend this in court.

        • While I'm with you on (a) and (b), keep in mind that Apple isn't the one being sued here.

          I'm Joe Developer. I have received a letter from Lodsys. I have two choices--pay money or fight it in court. So the question is, do I need to hire lawyers or is Apple going to do this for me.

          If Apple is going to pay their crack legal team to defend me, I certainly appreciate it. But if I have to pay for the lawyers myself and Apple will only "assist" my legal team, then I'm not real pleased about Apple forcing me to

          • by Ixokai (443555)

            The way I read the letter, its pretty clearly stated IMHO that if Lodsys does not drop this, Apple will directly file suit to enforce the terms of its license deal.

            They may not defend you directly, but they can still shut the whole thing down. They have an existing deal with Lodsys which, they say, covers you completely: and they'll take Lodsys to court to prove that if they need to.

      • 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.

        • by nahdude812 (88157) *

          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,"

          And of what use is that to a small time developer who's being sued? In Apple's opinion is you're ok. They're certainly not going to phrase it that way, "Nah, you're probably fine, don't worry about it." The best this does is give developers an opportunity to claim good faith when the court is deciding whether to award punitive damages.

          If Apple truly is as convinced as they claim they are, they'll indemnify their developers. The fact that they're not doing this suggests they're not as confident as they s

      • by milkmage (795746)

        imdenify = Compensate (someone) for harm or loss: "insurance carried to indemnify the owner for loss"

        AFAIK - nobody has paid lodsys yet.. compensation isn't in play.

        if Apple caves, it sets a dangerous precendent.. the dollars are irrelevant. this is about priniple. @less than $6000 per million in income.. the "fee schedule" is designed to get devs to pay because $6k is nothing compared to 1M... BUT if Apple doesn't fight, EVERY SINGLE APP DEV with in app purchases is subject to infrigement. and nevermind th

        • by nahdude812 (88157) *

          Offering developers indemnity doesn't mean Apple paying Lodsys, it means that Apple tells developers they'll adopt any damages the developers would have incurred. It also means that it's easy to shift any lawsuits from individual developers to Apple themselves. So Lodsys sues MacAppmaker, Inc., because of the indemnity, MacAppmaker, Inc. is able to move to have the defendant renamed as Apple; Lodsys can either accept that or risk having the case summarily dismissed.

          It means that quickly it becomes a legal

          • by milkmage (795746)

            what I meant was no devs have paid lodsys yet, so there's no need for Apple to comepnsate.

            if lodsys wins, the apple can just reduce their cut of the inapp purchase to compenstate the developers.

            but it looks like APPL is of the opinion that their license covers devs as well.

            if that's apple's opinion, and they lose the case, there's no need for devs to fight independently, since their argument will have been rendered moot by the court's decision against apple. either way, appl has covered the devs. they can't

            • by nahdude812 (88157) *

              But Apple hasn't covered devs at all, they have only put out a press release saying that in their opinion, covering devs is unnecessary, because they think Apple's license covers the devs. That may bear out in court, but it may not. But either way, those devs who have been sued stand to lose a lot of money in legal fees unless Apple gives them a legal tool to shift the burden.

              what I meant was no devs have paid lodsys yet, so there's no need for Apple to comepnsate.

              Apple can offer indemnity before people have experienced losses (that's the whole business model of insurance companies which offer

    • by bhcompy (1877290)
      If I recall, when you use the Amazon app it just takes you to a website. In-app purchase it is not.
    • Vendor supported software distribution channels have an enormous potential; an obvious statement given the run-away success of iTunes App Store and the others.

      The AppStore(tm) conveys a respectability and quality to the developers the makes the customer confident that they aren't buying some sort of malware/crapware/etc.. . The generally low-cost and quick access encourages trying out software.

      From the developers standpoint, it has the benefits of the Co-Op or similar collectives [ ok -30%, but it is not

      • The generally low-cost and quick access encourages trying out software.

        Not really: if you have to buy your product in order to try it out, it's not really a trial ... it's a purchase. That doesn't encourage trying out software: it makes you nervous that you're wasting your money. You might have to wade through a half dozen competing programs to find one that suits you, which multiplies the effective cost of the software you actually do use. You can't return the ones that didn't stack up, you can't resell them: you're stuck. Reviews aren't sufficient either: just because someon

    • by Tharsman (1364603)

      The thing I do have to ponder though, would Google actually step in the same way Apple did, should they go after Android developers? Up to this date, they have not taken responsibilities for any patent issues phone makers have faced, despite being as capable to interfere.

      Microsoft promises anyone that manufactures WP7 devices that it will take full responsibility for any patent lawsuits, but will they extend this to developers? Actually bigger question for WP7, does the OS even support in app purchases?

      Th

      • by dwightk (415372)

        The thing I do have to ponder though, would Google actually step in the same way Apple did, should they go after Android developers? Up to this date, they have not taken responsibilities for any patent issues phone makers have faced, despite being as capable to interfere.

        That's interesting, I wonder why they picked iOS devs first.

    • If you aren't using the official channels for your application and have in-app purchases, will you be liable for patent infringement? ... I am sure that if you implement the in-app purchases in your independent way, and distribute your application yourself, you also need to get the patent. But what about the third party stores?

      Don't be so sure!

      The biggest kick in the nuts for Lodsys in that letter is when Apple says "Lodsys's threatened claims are barred by the doctrines of patent exhaustion and first sale". As I read it: because Apple have already paid for a patent license for each iOS device that they sell, no-one can demand another license fee. It's already licensed and paid for. Lodsys is effectively asking to be paid multiple times for the same device, which they can't do.

      So, assuming that Google and others are similarly lic

    • my next phone will inevitably be an android given a lack of meego or webos devices. Day 1 i'll wipe it and install cyanogenmod. i may be in the minority but i have little interest in app stores and $2.95 shareware. Nor paying to receive movies on a 3.5" screen.
      If patent trolls and mega-corporations drive a resurgence in free software (as in speech - replicant) on mobile devices, bring it on!

    • by Nick Ives (317)

      The big question here is, what about Android mods like CyanogenMod and non-official stores?

      Cyanogenmod doesn't include the official Android Market app, you have to get it separately. I would assume that non-official stores like the Amazon store have licensed this patent.

  • Kudos (Score:3, Interesting)

    by softWare3ngineer (2007302) on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:12PM (#36221244)
    Kudos to Apple for standing up to a group of people who are responsible for a large part of the success that the iPhone has achieved. I'll admit i didn't think apple had it in them. can you imagine the iphone without apps, it would be terrible.
    • correction '..for a group of people'
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Right, because no one would have EVER thought of that sort of functionality, functionality that has been around for a good two decades.

      Posted as AC so I can mod down this troll.

      • Aaaaand your correction cleared that up. Thought you were trolling and claiming that Lodsys's patent was responsible for the success of the iPhone. My bad.
        • more mine. would be awesome if slashdot would let you edit your comments after you posted. maybe if the system gave you 2 minutes before anyone could reply and you could fix those errors you only see right after pressing the submit button. might help with those knee-jerk troll reactions too.
    • This makes all those laments about the walled garden seem hollow. Apple set up a system that specifically allows developers not to have to worry about e-commerce, or patents and copyrights. Sure it takes a cut, but as we can now see this may be worth it. It sure is to small developers.

      All the poor chumps on Cydia now have Lodsys to contend with.

      The proper place to put your wrath is on the asshole patent trolls that force the world to work like this.

      The down side to this action by apple is that it re-info

  • Lodsys is only the tip of the patent lawsuit iceberg unfortunately. What happens when some patent holder who doesn't license directly to Apple (or Google in the case of Android) decides to send threatening letters to the application developers? The US Patent System is fundamentally broken. Today's letter from Apple to Lodsys may help iOS developers to dodge this bullet, but this is only the opening volley.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, I don't think so.

      The Lodsys claim was a particular threat because it could have potentially threatened every app developer that used the InApp Purchase API - -that was a low volume, high profit margin strategy because Lodsys wanted a percentage of all the revenue generated by InApp Purchase. If Lodsys won, they would have a never-ending revenue stream pouring in off a one-time legal win. But there aren't any other iOS APIs that are directly generate additional revenue beyond the app's purchase pri

  • 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

    • by mcmonkey (96054)

      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.

      [snip]

      Very truly yours,

      Epstein's Mother

    • Shouldn't that be App Makers®, just to differentiate them from Android App Developers?

  • by ThePolkapunk (826529) on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:31PM (#36221470) Homepage
    This is OK, but I'd much prefer to see the patent ruled invalid. I've always heard it's a "failing defense" to challenge a patent based on prior art, but this just screams of prior art, to say nothing of obviousness. I hope it'll be tossed out in a court case.
  • It's great that Apple is defending the devs. It's nice to see a patent troll get beat down, but it's not much of a victory when they already got their money for this completely obvious and bogus patent.

    Here's [lodsys.com] a list of their patents. They keep calling these "inventions" and the guy listed on the patents (Dan Abelow) is called a "prolific inventor" but after reading the patents he just seems like an opportunist who managed to get a couple blatantly obvious ideas through the patent system.

    • by Ixokai (443555)

      IIUC, Lodsys didn't actually get any money out of this, and the original "inventor" sold all his patents quite a long time ago -- to Intellectual Ventures (eventually: its possible they changed hands a few times before IV got them)

      They're the one who Apple signed a license deal with, and if I'm not mistaken, it was a pretty broad license to quite a lot of patents. These were just a couple included. It wouldn't surprise me if the bundle included a lot of junk to shore up the numbers in the deal -- after all,

    • This doesn't make much sense, but I suppose it comes down to how they licensed it. If Apple is allowed to sub-license the patent to whoever they want, then right on. If not, then for this to work it means your apps are all owned entirely by Apple. Now that's a scary thought!
      • by Nadaka (224565)

        They don't have to sub-license it to anyone, The app developers are merely using the system licensed, owned and provided by apple.

      • by Ixokai (443555)

        No, but the "in-app purchasing" framework IS owned by Apple. They wrote it, and provide it on their devices. App developers are just making use of it.

        Apple has a license to the tech, and made a implementation of that tech, which they require app developers use. The developers aren't implementing anything. They just plug into an API.

        What Lodsys is doing is really like requiring a license for using a hammer, instead of making one. Of course, analogies about software and patents and cars never go over well, or

  • i would hope... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by joocemann (1273720) on Monday May 23, 2011 @03:40PM (#36221560)

    ...that lodsys completely destroys all app devs, and the whole app market as a whole, ultimately raising awareness to the ridiculous framework of patents and litigation in our country... ultimately leading to serious reform.

  • I like how the wording of the article implies a causal relationship between the EFF's call and Apple's actions.

    Note to EFF: you had nothing to do with this.

HELP!!!! I'm being held prisoner in /usr/games/lib!

Working...