Feeds

In-app payment patent scattergun fired at small devs

Will Apple step in to protect its ecosystem?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Mobile developers using in-app purchasing have been hit with letters requesting they hand over half a per cent of their US revenue as a licence for using the patented concept.

The letters arrived by FedEx on Friday, addressed to individual developers of applications that allow the user to unlock additional functionality in exchange for money. That's a very popular use for in-application billing, and one facilitated by all the popular mobile platforms including Apple's iTunes and Google Marketplace as well as Nokia's Ovi Store.

But Lodsys, which owns the patent, isn't targeting the facilitators as they aren't providing the functionality to end users, as explained in the company's blog. It's the developers who are creating applications that infringe on US patent 7,222,078, therefore it's the developers who should cough up 0.575 per cent of their US revenue to Lodsys in licence fees.

Lodsys freely admits it didn't invent the technology, or even buy it from someone who invented it. The patent was filed by one Dan Abelow around 20 years ago. He sold it as part of a bundle of patents to Intellectual Ventures, who then sold them on to a "private rights ownership group" which "set up independent companies, with sufficient capital and talented staff to focus on licensing the patent rights broadly to the marketplace".

The patent is hugely broad, even at a glance, and could well be challenged. But the developers being targeted lack the resources to challenge it, while the facilitators (Apple, as iOS developers are the only ones targeted so far) aren't being accused of any infringement. One might argue that Apple is facilitating the patent infringement, but there's little reason for Lodsys to bring Cupertino into the fray.

Though Lodsys is drawing Apple into the matter anyway, as all the developers have gone running to Cupertino for advice. Patent blogger Florian Mueller reckons Apple will have to provide some sort of legal aid to the developers, or risk the whole ecosystem; but he also points out that even Apple can't risk taking responsibility for every patent that iOS developers infringe.

With millions of mobile apps now being commercially distributed a lot more valid patents are going to be infringed, and a lot more frivolous claims are going to be made. But mostly, a lot of patent lawyers are going to get paid to sort out which is which. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft on the Threshold of a new name for Windows next week
Rebranded OS reportedly set to be flung open by Redmond
'In... 15 feet... you will be HIT BY A TRAIN' Google patents the SPLAT-NAV
Alert system tips oblivious phone junkies to oncoming traffic
Apple: SO sorry for the iOS 8.0.1 UPDATE BUNGLE HORROR
Apple kills 'upgrade'. Hey, Microsoft. You sure you want to be like these guys?
SMASH the Bash bug! Red Hat, Apple scramble for patch batches
'Applying multiple security updates is extremely difficult'
'Google is NOT the gatekeeper to the web, as some claim'
Plus: 'Pretty sure iOS 8.0.2 will just turn the iPhone into a fax machine'
ARM gives Internet of Things a piece of its mind – the Cortex-M7
32-bit core packs some DSP for VIP IoT CPU LOL
'People have forgotten just how late the first iPhone arrived ...'
Plus: 'Google's IDEALISM is an injudicious justification for inappropriate biz practices'
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.