May 30, 2011
If Android developers thought that they were safe from the wrath of notorious patent holding firm Lodsys, it appears as if they are not. Lodsys has sent at least one Android developer a notice of patent infringement in regards to in-app purchase. The short version of the story so far is that Lodsys has a patent that they claim covers in-app purchases, and has deals with Apple, Google, and Microsoft to cover their in-app purchases as well. However, Lodsys has started to attempt to sue individual developers in an attempt to claim licensing fees from them, claiming that the parent companies licensing in-app purchase technology does not cover individual developers licensing them as well.
The first Android developer to have been affected by Lodsys’ seeming trolling of individual developers is an anonymous Android developer named “markusn82,” who recently posted to the Android Discuss Google Group. He claims that “We recently implemented in-app purchases for our Android application and several weeks later we received a letter from Lodsys, claiming that we infringed on their patents.” This is similar to developers like Villain, makers of the FPS Archetype for iOS, who have received similar notices recently.
Apple came out and sternly defended their developers using in-app purchases, claiming that Lodsys cannot double dip on license payments for this patent, as Apple’s license should cover individual developers using in-app purchases in their apps. However, this may not mean that Apple will provide any legal defense or services to any developers afflicted by Lodsys’ notices. With Google having recently launched an official in-app purchase mechanism, it will be interesting to see if they are as willing to defend their developers, at least in word if not in action, as Apple proved to be. As well, it will be interesting to see if Lodsys targets any more Android developers. Time will tell, and if any Windows Phone 7 developers are targeted as well.