Lodsys today filed a lawsuit against seven Apple application developers, ignoring Apple’s claims that its developers were protected by a patent licensing agreement.
The lawsuit accuses developers of infringing on in-app purchasing patents for apps created on iOS, Mac OS X and Android. Lodsys is demanding up to six percent of revenue from the accused developers named in the lawsuit, which include Combay, Iconfactory, Illusion Labs, Michael Karr, Quickoffice, Richard Shinderman and Wulven Game Studios.
But Apple says Lodsys doesn’t have grounds to file the suit. The iPhone maker believes its licensing agreement with Lodsys shields the developers, who were developing apps for Apple’s devices.
“Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license,” said Bruce Sewell, Apple senior vice president to Lodsys CEO Mike Small. “There is no basis for Lodsys’ infringement allegations against Apple’s App Makers.”
Lodsys interpreted the agreement differently, and believes that all developers should be held accountable for infringing upon the patent.
“We stand firm and restate our previous position that it is the third-party developers that are responsible for the infringement of Lodsys’ patents and they are responsible for securing the rights for their applications,” the company said in a blog post.
Apple stayed quiet for two weeks after Lodsys filed the initial claims against the developers, but has since come out to publicly support its developers whose applications make the company a lot of money. Apple has made an estimated $4 billion in profits, thanks to developers like those currently being sued.
By maintaining that the smaller developers are shielded by Apple’s umbrella, the company is taking a stand to support these small businesses and protect their profits, which lawsuits like this would quickly drain, crippling their innovations. Apple also creates loyalty with these vital developers, giving them more reasons to develop for iOS and not other operating systems like Android.
Lodsys’ actions are likely to result in lawsuits from not only Apple, but possibly other application developers, worsening the company’s already poor public image. The case may spark advocacy groups, who have called for patent reform in light of companies who routinely sue on the grounds of patent infringement, without having products of their own to use their patents.