The infamous patent troll Lodsys has been bothering app developers for almost three years now, claiming that in-app pay-to-upgrade functionality infringes its patents. No matter that Apple and Google provide that technology to the developers, and no matter that most app developers can't afford this kind expensive patent litigation.
To their credit, both Apple and Google have made efforts to defend their app developers—Google challenged the Lodsys patents at the Patent Office and Apple moved to intervene in the lawsuit against app developers. Today, we, along with the Application Developers Alliance, filed a brief in support of Apple's efforts.
First, an update. Lodsys has now sued about 30 app developers in the Eastern District of Texas. Apple moved to get involved in the first and largest of those cases, arguing that a license Apple has to the patents in question should also cover its app developers. To be clear, this is a pretty big deal: if the Court found that all of Apple's app developers were immune, then Lodsys's threats would have to go away (plus, we understand that Google has a similar license).
Not to be deterred from its trolliness, Lodsys has quickly and cheaply been settling all of its lawsuits and then arguing that Apple's case can't be heard because it is predicated on the underlying cases against the app developers. Then, it sends more letters and files more suits, leaving app developers nationwide in limbo.
We think this is wrong, and told the Court so today. Not only does the law allow the Court to hear Apple's argument now, but justice demands that it does so. By ruling on whether Apple's license covers app developers, the Court can create certainty for millions of app developers who fear they are next up on Lodsys's hit list. App developers—most of whom make less than $15,000 a year—should be able to develop in peace without the threat of Lodsys hanging over their heads. We hope the Court takes this opportunity to make that happen.