The tech giant is said to be examining the legal case surrounding the apps patents that blew up last week.
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US patent company Lodsys filed several claims against iPhone and iPad app developers claiming it holds the patents rights to in-app purchasing system (patent 10/732,102).
It is also demanding iOS developers purchase licences to use the system. In total Texas based Lodsys is seeking 0.575 percent of US apps revenue over for the period of the notice until the the patent expires, “plus applicable past usage.”
Although Apple is a licenced holder of the patents in question, it appears the patent holder is now looking for individual developers to pay out for licensing rights. Lodsys claims it owns the rights to four patents relating to in-app purchases, interactive online ads, online help and subscription renewals.
Reports indicate Apple’s legal team are “actively investigating” the notices being served.
“Since Lodsys patent rights are of value to that overall solution, it is only fair to get paid by the party that is accountable for the entire solution and which captures the value (rather than a technology supplier or a retailer),” it wrote on its blog on Sunday.
“The scope of their current licenses does NOT enable them to provide “pixie dust” to bless another (3rd party) business applications. “
The apps market has exploded in recent years and is now a multimillion dollar industry with Apple’s App Store being the biggest in terms of hard numbers – over 350,000 and counting.
And it looks like the Texan company could go after Android developers also, confirming Google and Microsoft are licence holders but admitting it was a “logical question” to examine apps on other platforms.
However, it seems the patent company decided to pursue developers rather than Apple themselves, despite the fact that they develop the apps using Apple’s developer kit and guidelines.
However, the developers being pursued who hail from the US and the UK, are not happy about the legal entanglement and referred the notices to the iPhone makers.
Patrick McCarron from New Jersey developers MobileAge as well as UK based James Thomson and the creator of the kids game MASH app, Matt Braun, from Magnate Interactive have all been hit with notices.
The issue is fraught with danger for developers who fear it will open a can of worms on licensing rights.
“Hopefully we will get some guidance from Apple before the deadline,” James Thomson wrote on Twitter yesterday, who describes himself as an Indie iOS / Mac developer and maker of PCalc and DragThing.
“I think they are a very bad thing for small developers. And I am waiting to hear back from Apple,” another developer Franz Taptanium tweeted.
However, Lodsys insist the remuneration being sought is minimal: “So on an application that sells US$1m worth of sales in a year, the licensee would have an economic exposure of $5,750 pa.”
Earlier this year it filed suits against a litany of tech companies including Samsung, Brother, HP, Lenovo, Motorola and several others.