Analysis of Apple’s Letter To Lodsys
Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents breaks down today’s letter from Apple to Lodsys CEO Mark Small, detailing a possible scenario iOS developers might soon find themselves into:
App developers have to understand that Lodsys can still sue them. Apple’s letter does not prevent Lodsys from doing that, and it would be a way for Lodsys to pursue its agenda. It wouldn’t make economic sense for Lodsys to sue a few little app developers based on the damage awards or settlements Lodsys might get out of such a lawsuit. However, for Lodsys it would still be worth it if this resulted in a lucrative settlement with Apple, or if it (alternatively) scared potentially thousands of app developers so much that they would pay. Lodsys would sue some app devs only to set an example, and for the ones to whom it happens, that would be an unpleasant situation.
As other bloggers have already written and tweeted, Apple’s letter might be heartwarming for developers, but the story is far from over. Apple is stepping up to defend its developers and that is great news for sure (see developers’ reactions here), but in case of Lodsys deciding to sue anyway to set a precedent, these indie developers would still have to deal with actual court duties, lawyers, and the fact that they’d need to directly ask Apple to back them up. Apple hasn’t explicitly stated they would pay for every legal expense in today’s letter (unless the emails sent to developers, and not Mark Small, have additional details we’re not aware of), though Mueller believes that sending a copy of the letter to Mark Small to developers is a good sign of the company taking things seriously and considering paying for any kind of expense if Lodsys sues.
Again, it’s not over yet, but the general consensus seems to be that this is a great first step to defend the App Store, Apple’s own ecosystem and in-app purchases, and independent developers.