Late last week, several independent iOS developers woke up to a bad surprise: Lodsys, a company specialized in technology-related patents, threatened to sue them over the use of in-app purchasing mechanisms, which are supposedly covered by patents owned by the company.
Lodsys’s actions sparked an outcry amongst iOS developers, which prompted the company to come out of its silence and give more details about the patent it holds. As it turns out, Lodsys’s request appears to be legitimate, as according to the company, it has licensing agreements with Apple, Microsoft and Google, for the use in-app purchases mechanisms. However, the license does not include to third-party software, and Lodsys is trying to collect royalties directly from iOS developers as well.
Lodsys expects iOS devs using in-app purchases to give 0.575 percent of their U.S. revenue to the company – a fairly low amount, but enough to tick off most devs, who have no choice but to use in-app purchases mechanisms in order to sell anything from their app, per the iOS Developer Program License Agreement.
Why going after iOS devs, instead of Apple? After all, the in-app purchases mechanism is built and promoted by the Cupertino-based company, not iOS developers, and Lodsys could ask Apple to re-negotiate the licensing agreement between the two companies to cover all iOS devs as well. Maybe it’s easier to go after independent developers who do not have a slew of lawyers to defend them seem to be much easier prays, instead of having to face Apple’s department… Regardless, it’s difficult to believe that Apple’s legal department will not eventually get involved: after all, if iOS devs start to pony up to be able to legally use in-app purchases mechanisms, it would most likely mean the end of it.