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Apple “Investigating” Lodsys Claims, Official Response Later This Week

Following Lodsys’ response to the debate surrounding the patent infringement claims they sent to a number of iOS developers last week, The Guardian reports Apple is “actively investigating” these claims, with an official response expected to come from the company later this week.

Apple’s legal department is understood to be “actively investigating” claims by Lodsys, a patent holding company based in Texas, to have a claim against iPhone and iPad developers who use in-app purchase systems. So far Lodsys has served papers on about a dozen iOS developers who it says are infringing its patent 10/732,102, which it bought in 2004 from the inventor, who filed it in the 1990s, covering user interaction over a network.

Apple is not expected to respond to the claims, which have been passed to it by affected developers, until later this week.

Last week, Lodsys sent legal notices to some iOS developers who were using in-app purchases and upgrade buttons in their iPhone and iPad applications, claiming the implementation of this kind of upgrade process was patented and subject to licensing fees. The debate the followed the blog posts and tweets from developers who didn’t understand how it was possible to infringe a patent while using Apple’s own SDK quickly made Lodsys write a series of blog posts detailing how the company was already licensing the patent to Apple and Google, but not to indie developers. Lodsys is asking for a 0.575% fee of US revenue over the period the technology was implemented, giving developers 21 days to decide whether or not they want to license the patent. Lodsys also explained that Apple can’t extend the rights of the patent to third-party developers, in spite of its intention to build a eco-system revolving around a single SDK to write software for iPhones and iPads. This left many developers wondering whether in-app purchases were still a feasible option, considering Apple’s 30% cut off every transaction and the newly discovered legal implications.

In the meantime, Lodsys is sending more legal notices to other developers, with The Iconfactory apparently receiving one this morning as tweeted by co-founder Talos Tsui and James Thomson, the first developer who got hit with Lodsys’ patent claims. Notably, The Iconfactory has the popular Twitter client Twitterrific for iPhone and iPad available in the App Store, featuring an upgrade button to remove advertising with in-app purchase.

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