iOS app developers face lawsuit over in-app purchases

14 May 2011

A Pandora’s Box of legal issues has been opened after it emerged that iOS app developers in the US and UK have been approached by patent licensing firm Lodsys accusing them of infringing its patents in relation to in-app purchases.

It is understood that at least five companies who make apps for the iPhone and iPad devices were approached by Texas-based Lodsys.

Lodysys is a company that owns patents on technologies created by Harvard graduate Dan Abelow. The patents have been licensed to many of the leading global tech giants including Apple, Google and Nokia.

Waking a not-so-sleeeping giant

It is highly likely that Apple will get drawn into the legal battle because the developers have built their apps using Apple’s Developer Toolkit.

In fact it is understood many of the developers involved have referred Lodsys’ claims to Apple’s legal department.

Many app developers use Apple’s developer toolkit so it is likely the number of app developers that could be sued by Lodsys will grow.

This is a new paradigm because it draws the relatively new genre of mobile apps into the legal meat grinder of patent issues that concerns software and electronics and upon which the tech industry is largely built.

I sense innocence has been lost.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years