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Texas judge lets Apple duel patent sabre-rattler Lodsys

Foxconn-rebrander lifts sword to defend iOS devs

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A Texas judge has decided Apple will be allowed into the trenches to fight patent-holding firm Lodsys, on behalf of iOS developers, almost a year after Cupertino made the request.

The news comes from courtroom-lurker Florian Mueller, who points out that the public filing clearly states Apple can get involved in the case which sees Lodsys asserting its patent against various iOS developers. Apple argues that its own licence on the patent asserted by Lodsys extends to the infringing apps, something Lodsys disputes.

The patent covers in-application spending, and few disagree that it is being infringed by numerous mobile applications, but Apple argues that its own licence on the patent covers app developers as Apple is the body processing the payments and back in June last year asked permission to enter the fray.

That dispute was hitherto outside the patent cases that Lodsys is currently asserting against individual developers, despite the fact that if Apple were to be proven correct then those cases would be moot. That uncertainty has already prompted some developers to pay off Lodsys rather than face a lengthy court battle, though we don't know if they've negotiated a discount on the 0.575 per cent of US revenue that Lodsys had been asking for.

Lodsys isn't just hitting those developing for the iOS platform, but it is worth noting that Apple's licence on the patent goes back to when it was owned by Intellectual Ventures – a patent farm in which Apple, and Google, have considerable investment.

With Apple able to enter the fray, the question of how broadly its licence applies will be settled by the court, a ruling which will have a significant impact on mobile developers on every platform. ®

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