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Apple Defends App Makers Against Lodsys

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the we-have-more-lawyers-than-you-do dept.

Patents 108

A mere few days after the EFF called upon Apple to Indemnify developers against alleged infringement of Lodsys patents on in-app purchases, Apple has sent Lodsys a letter defending developers. Apple argues that it has a license to the Lodsys patents that extends to individual developers making the Lodsys claims invalid. Hopefully the baring of legal teeth will put this matter to rest.

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108 comments

In-App purchases (5, Interesting)

mms3k (2192016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221160)

So, Apple developers are protected. It also looks like Google and Microsoft have licensed the patents for Android and Windows Phone 7. Technically the in-app purchases also work the same way - via Apple/Google/Microsoft services.

The big question here is, what about Android mods like CyanogenMod and non-official stores? Android is the only mobile platform of those that offer it. If you aren't using the official channels for your application and have in-app purchases, will you be liable for patent infringement? I have a ladyboy friend who is really interested in mobile development, but this might again be a hit against Android's openness and make her rethink about the situation. Sure, you are protected if you use the official Google channels to do it, but the point of Android is to be open and let both users and developers do it their own way if they want to. I am sure that if you implement the in-app purchases in your independent way, and distribute your application yourself, you also need to get the patent. But what about the third party stores?

Re:In-App purchases (-1, Offtopic)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221186)

I have a ladyboy friend who is really interested in mobile development

I'm sorry to get off topic, but what the hell is a "ladyboy"?

Re:In-App purchases (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221202)

he was challenged to include that word in every comment

Looks like he took it up :)

Re:In-App purchases (2)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221960)

That is freakin' hilarious!

Re:In-App purchases (0)

dmacleod808 (729707) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221208)

A ladyboy i think is an asian transexual.... I am not sure why it was necessary to put that in the comment.

Re:In-App purchases (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221268)

Here [slashdot.org] is why you see the ladyboy reference...

Re:In-App purchases (1)

ynp7 (1786468) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221310)

I approve this message.

Re:In-App purchases (0)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221506)

The poster refers to the layboy using the pronoun 'her', which seems to offer some insight.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

CTU (1844100) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221464)

lol Sounds like fun...a lot more fun then a ladyboy

tho Back on Topic: I was shocked to see apple taking this action It was the right one, but i did not think apple would care.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222750)

And if two people do it, it's a game ...
And if three people do it, it's a ladyboy movement!! :D

Re:In-App purchases (1)

natd (723818) | more than 3 years ago | (#36226350)

A ladyboy i think is an asian transexual....

A *WHAT*???

No. in fact it's just a cocktail of Lager, Gin, Tonic and a small baileys cream.

Re:In-App purchases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221730)

Wait... what? A lady boyfriend? A Jumbo Shrimp? Military Intelligence... I think I see a pattern here.

Re:In-App purchases (1, Offtopic)

jo42 (227475) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223106)

what the hell is a "ladyboy"?

See Bieber, Justin.

Re:In-App purchases (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221358)

I have a ladyboy friend who is really interested in mobile development, but this might again be a hit against Android's openness and make her rethink about the situation.

We're thrilled you accepted the challenge [slashdot.org] .

Re:In-App purchases (4, Informative)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221664)

So, Apple developers are protected.

Actually I don't see this being as clear cut as that. Apple merely says it thinks developers are included in Apple's license. Apple does not offer to indemnify developers.

So depending on how clearly defined the licensing agreement is between Apple and Lodsys, developers may be protected, may not be protected, or maybe worse yet, could questionably be protected (causing a developer to have to defend themselves at great personal expense, with no guarantee of success).

Apple should indemnify developers as the EFF requested. Unless and until that happens, Lodsys is free to pursue suits against individual developers, and let the courts decide whether Apple's license covers the developer or not. Like defending yourself against an RIAA lawsuit, even if you win, it probably would have been cheaper to just pay them off.

Re:In-App purchases (-1)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221718)

Uhm, don't you think it would be cheaper to BUY A FUCKING LICENSE TO THE PATENT?

They are ONLY ASKING FOR a very VERY small amount. An amount so small you'd be pressed to notice considering you're using their technology to sell your application with a crippled free-ware version that you can upgrade.

They should be allowed to PROFIT from TECHNOLOGY THEY PATENTED (or bought the patent to)
That's the ENTIRE POINT OF THE PATENT SYSTEM.

Sure, it would be hugely expensive to fight a lawsuit... They aren't asking for THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS, they are asking for an absolute tiny amount of revenue that you gain, by using their technology.

Not at all unreasonable.

Re:In-App purchases (4, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221798)

NO!

They should be allowed to profit from technology they INVENTED and then patented provided it is not obvious and there is no prior art. This patent is BULLSHIT that fails on both those grounds.

Re:In-App purchases (3, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221852)

I'd put an additional qualifier, that they didn't drag the process out so that the technology would be embedded in society before the patent was granted. It shouldn't take more than a few years under normal circumstances for a patent to be granted once the application starts.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223574)

I'd put an additional qualifier, that they didn't drag the process out so that the technology would be embedded in society before the patent was granted. It shouldn't take more than a few years under normal circumstances for a patent to be granted once the application starts.

Judges tend to dislike submarine patents, in general. Unless you're in a certain jurisdiction down in Texas ...

Re:In-App purchases (3, Insightful)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222230)

And unfortunately, it takes about $30,000 to start an investigation to have the patent invalidated. Even then it may take months for it to happen, should you be sued in the time it takes no one will force them to pay your lawyers, and the investigation may not result in the patent being invalidated resulting in a waste of 30 grand.

This is another example on how broken the patent system is. It's designed so the common man can't apply for them, nor even attempt to revoke obvious ones with decades of prior art. It's a tool for the wealthy to harass the poor and force control of inventions into the hands of corporations that actually can afford the patent process.

Re:In-App purchases (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223044)

Not only that, Lodsys still has not explained how they believe in-app purchasing constitutes storing and receiving feedback from users of a commodity, as required in order to infringe on the claims in their patent, despite opening a blog to complain about their hate mail.

Re:In-App purchases (2)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221876)

Apple did buy a license to the patent.

How's life at the Lodsys office now that you've drawn the attention of the company you specifically wanted to avoid dealing with by going after the little guys?

Re:In-App purchases (2)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221888)

They are ONLY ASKING FOR a very VERY small amount.

The precedent would be absolutely toxic, though. What would keep the MPEG-LA from going to every app developer who uses a movie view in their app, and demanding a little 3% too? It's the same situation -- Apple has all the licenses, it does all the coding, the app developers just enter and exit Apple's service, and along comes someone who says "Well, you're not actually implementing our technology or process, but you're availing yourself of someone's implementation of it and making money by the by." You can't charge everyone down the line for using something patented, as Apple states in its letter, it's license to the technology is subject to the First Sale doctrine like anything else.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224354)

The precedent would be absolutely toxic, though. What would keep the MPEG-LA from going to every app developer who uses a movie view in their app, and demanding a little 3% too?

What stops MPEG-LA from doing this is that they aren't the patent trolls people here seem to think they are. Their members benefit from people using H.264 (and other codecs).

It's the same situation

Not really. Unlike MPEG-LA, Lodsys doesn't seem to have a vested interest in their patented technology being used except to draw royalties.

Also, simply because some people pay up doesn't set a legal precedent. Until it's tested in court, the legal status of their claim is not certain. You are right, though, that if this is given legal approval, it would indeed set a disturbing precedent.

Re:In-App purchases (2)

ObiWanKenblowme (718510) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221910)

They're asking for a small percentage. At the moment. Depending on how much a given developer makes from an app, this could be a small amount, or it very well could be "THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS".

What if they decide to increase the percentage when they realize they're not making thousands from the majority of licensees? What if this makes other holders of dubious-at-best patents think that they're now entitled to a percentage of every developer's revenue too? It's a slippery slope for anyone - but especially an independent developer - to start down, and it's good to see such a strong response from Apple on their behalf.

Re:In-App purchases (2)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221918)

considering you're using their technology

What technology? The idea of putting an 'upgrade' button inside an app? Buttons like that have been inside apps and web pages since they existed, and were predated by stickers on physical goods unselling to a 'pro' version.

The idea of having a button selling another product inside an app is not a technology, it's not an invention, it's not difficult or technical, it's not even a unique or notable idea. The thought that someone would ask money because they wrote the idea down would be laughable if it weren't for the USPS actually granting patents on crap like this, US courts enforcing them, and idiot corporations like Apple licensing them and thus lending the concept credence.

Not at all unreasonable.

No, that's right, I think completely insane would be a better description of the Lodsys position.

Apple should have been refusing to license patents like this and questioning the entire system, instead of licensing and thus encouraging despicable patent trolls like this company. At least Apple wrote Lodsys a letter though, explaining why they are idiots.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222690)

Yup, everything is obvious once someone has invented it. Hence, patents.

Re:In-App purchases (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223622)

Yup, everything is obvious once someone has invented it. Hence, patents.

More like "everything obvious is profitable once some greedy sociopath has patented it." Hence the modern patent system.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223602)

would be laughable if it weren't for the USPS actually granting patents on crap like this

I think you meant the USPTO. The Postal Service generally doesn't get involved in patent disputes (except for sending legal documents around.)

Re:In-App purchases (1)

brix (27642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222006)

"The entire point of the patent system", as you put it, is to encourage the creation of inventions which are (a) New, (b) Useful, and (c) Non-obvious to someone with knowledge in the industry.

I haven't read the patent, but from reading the Apple letter, it doesn't exactly sound like it passes the "non-obvious test", at the least, and probably not even the "new" part. The problem is that, to fight this, you must either spend thousands of dollars in a lawsuit or pay the license fee.

I don't care how small the amount is, it IS unreasonable to ask for someone to pay for a patent which shouldn't be valid.

If the patent really was "new" and "non-obvious" at the time it was filed, then they are absolutely entitled to payment. I'm just typically skeptical when it comes to software patents.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222082)

I'm sorry, I have a patent on the phrase "FUCKING LICENSE." (It was original work; people use "fucking" and "license" separately but I was the first one to think to put them together.) Please pay me .5% of your annual income each time you use that phrase.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

dissy (172727) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222112)

Uhm, don't you think it would be cheaper to BUY A FUCKING LICENSE TO THE PATENT? They are ONLY ASKING FOR a very VERY small amount

It would also be cheaper to give the bully at school your lunch money every day.
After all, it's a very small amount

The fact that the bully nor Lodsys are entitled to it I suppose doesn't matter?

Re:In-App purchases (-1, Flamebait)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224356)

Wow, you're really fucking stupid aren't you? Are you planning on having children? Please don't, your inferior genes will only detract from the quality of our gene pool. You are obviously a genetically inferior piece of shit who doesn't understand the concepts of "prior art" and "patent trolls". Lodsys are nothing more than parasites who are attempting to use bogus patents and the threat of litigation to extort money from software developers who are contributing something useful to society and as such they make ambulance chasers look like paragons of morality and virtue.

Re:In-App purchases (-1, Troll)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224604)

Lol, I definitely win troll of the thread.

Yeah, lodesys is a bunch of punks akin to a mafia protection racket..

But I was in a shitty mood and wanted to troll

got a killer rage response from /. though, score +1

Re:In-App purchases (1)

Relayman (1068986) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222096)

A small point, but I believe Apple licensed the patent before Lodsys got the rights to it. So Apple's license would make no reference to Lodsys.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222114)

No, it's pretty simple – if you implement something in a patent, you need to pay for it. Apple implemented In-App purchasing, paid for it, and distributed their solution as a dynamic library. None of the developers linking against the dynamic library implemented it, so none are liable. Ofc, IANAL.

Re:In-App purchases (3, Insightful)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222144)

It seems pretty clear-cut as that; the letter isn't a mere opinion or press release. Its a detailed rebuttel by Apple's legal department, including a cease and desist instruction and a clear statement that they a) are licensed, b) this license covers the use of their API's by developers, and c) they will defend this in court.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224372)

While I'm with you on (a) and (b), keep in mind that Apple isn't the one being sued here.

I'm Joe Developer. I have received a letter from Lodsys. I have two choices--pay money or fight it in court. So the question is, do I need to hire lawyers or is Apple going to do this for me.

If Apple is going to pay their crack legal team to defend me, I certainly appreciate it. But if I have to pay for the lawyers myself and Apple will only "assist" my legal team, then I'm not real pleased about Apple forcing me to use their APIs.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224798)

The way I read the letter, its pretty clearly stated IMHO that if Lodsys does not drop this, Apple will directly file suit to enforce the terms of its license deal.

They may not defend you directly, but they can still shut the whole thing down. They have an existing deal with Lodsys which, they say, covers you completely: and they'll take Lodsys to court to prove that if they need to.

Re:In-App purchases (3, Informative)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222184)

Apple does not say it "thinks", their letter boldly states "Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license," [emphasis mine].

They also state they are prepared to take legal action against Lodsys if they insist to go after developers. If Apple flexes it's legal muscle, it can do a lot of harm to Lodsys, from a simple bankrupting of the company, to a more complex process of having all patents invalidated (resulting in the same, given these patents seem to be their source of income.)

The real question there is: how effective and fast can that be? Even if Apple manages to submit a lawsuit against Lodsys overnight, I don't think they can stop Lodsys from terrorizing developers and launching lawsuits against them. Given most developers can't afford any level of legal defense, they would be automatically ruined and that alone can result in huge shock-waves in the development community.

I think this was Apple's "friendly and polite" request to stop, and made public to reassure developer's confidence in Apple's intentions to defend them. Future actions may be done in a private, more direct, manner and next time we hear about this may be either party saying they have come to an agreement and developers will be left alone, or Lodsys saying they don't give a @#$@% and start the lawsuits against developers. The later may happen as early as tomorrow. I would guess dialog between the companies may take a bit longer and we wont hear much until Friday or next week.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224512)

Apple does not say it "thinks", their letter boldly states "Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license,"

And of what use is that to a small time developer who's being sued? In Apple's opinion is you're ok. They're certainly not going to phrase it that way, "Nah, you're probably fine, don't worry about it." The best this does is give developers an opportunity to claim good faith when the court is deciding whether to award punitive damages.

If Apple truly is as convinced as they claim they are, they'll indemnify their developers. The fact that they're not doing this suggests they're not as confident as they sound, and realize the suits will pass the summary judgment phase.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221822)

If I recall, when you use the Amazon app it just takes you to a website. In-app purchase it is not.

the cost of indemnity (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221830)

Vendor supported software distribution channels have an enormous potential; an obvious statement given the run-away success of iTunes App Store and the others.

The AppStore(tm) conveys a respectability and quality to the developers the makes the customer confident that they aren't buying some sort of malware/crapware/etc.. . The generally low-cost and quick access encourages trying out software.

From the developers standpoint, it has the benefits of the Co-Op or similar collectives [ ok -30%, but it is not like you custom make them ]. You get placement, some indemnity, trust of your customer base, and some lovely velvet handcuffs matched to your gilded cage.

The real question is whether the various Outlets end up being like the music/film/book distributors, or like a Fair Trade Coffee Shop. I know which one has painted itself the latter.

Re:the cost of indemnity (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224026)

The generally low-cost and quick access encourages trying out software.

Not really: if you have to buy your product in order to try it out, it's not really a trial ... it's a purchase. That doesn't encourage trying out software: it makes you nervous that you're wasting your money. You might have to wade through a half dozen competing programs to find one that suits you, which multiplies the effective cost of the software you actually do use. You can't return the ones that didn't stack up, you can't resell them: you're stuck. Reviews aren't sufficient either: just because someone else thinks an app is "killer" doesn't mean it will serve your needs properly. All reviews do is help you weed out the really bad ones.

Google had it right, originally ... 24 hours to try out your purchase. Not long enough to review some more complex/expensive applications, to be sure, but it was better than the way Apple runs their App Store. Now, Google has it down to 15 minutes (ostensibly because developers complained about people who would use the app for a day and then return it) but for me, the net effect is that I now buy fewer apps. Might as well just drop it down to zero and be done with it: 15 minutes is just insulting. Really, it is, and I give Apple credit for not spitting in their users faces in quite that way.

Other than yet another fart app or another Arnold Schwarzenegger sound board. you can't properly evaluate an application of reasonable sophistication in a quarter hour. In some cases, you're lucky to get it installed and configured in that time, must less actually checking it out. It's ridiculous, and Google lost a major marketing point by doing that. I realize that there's something of a balancing act involved (the needs of the developers vs. the needs of the users) but they handled that very badly, from a PR and customer satisfaction perspective.

I was on a couple of developer forums, and it was amazing the naked greed and arrogance exhibited by a number of developers. A few were more reasoned, but most copped the "we must stop those thieves from stealing our software" attitude. Some people never learn that dissing one's customers is rarely a good idea, and that trying to force users to pay for software that may not do what they want is even stupider. The devs who got it understood that, if they have a quality product, they'll make money because happy customers keep their apps. Those that don't have a good product don't deserve any revenue anyway.

The truth is, much as I love my G2 with Cyanogenmod 7, Google is perfectly capable of mucking this whole thing up. At that point I'm not sure where I'll go: I do not want anything to do with Apple, and even less to do with Windows 7 Mobile. Ah well ... time will tell.

Re:In-App purchases (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222090)

The thing I do have to ponder though, would Google actually step in the same way Apple did, should they go after Android developers? Up to this date, they have not taken responsibilities for any patent issues phone makers have faced, despite being as capable to interfere.

Microsoft promises anyone that manufactures WP7 devices that it will take full responsibility for any patent lawsuits, but will they extend this to developers? Actually bigger question for WP7, does the OS even support in app purchases?

That last question brings up another one: Google just recently introduced in-app purchases. This means that most, if any, in app purchase options in android apps is bypassing Google, just because they were forced to do it that way. Almost all such Android developers will become potential targets, even if they remove the functionality they can be pursued for retroactive pay.

Hopefully this will be meaningless, as this action may block the company from doing any further moneymaking from the patents in question and be forced out of business once their lawsuit against HP will make them entirely bankrupt and unable to purchase any more patents. It wont stop others from attempting the same, but at least it may mean one less patent troll.

Doctrines of patent exhaustion and first sale FTW (2)

gtch (1977476) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222254)

If you aren't using the official channels for your application and have in-app purchases, will you be liable for patent infringement? ... I am sure that if you implement the in-app purchases in your independent way, and distribute your application yourself, you also need to get the patent. But what about the third party stores?

Don't be so sure!

The biggest kick in the nuts for Lodsys in that letter is when Apple says "Lodsys's threatened claims are barred by the doctrines of patent exhaustion and first sale". As I read it: because Apple have already paid for a patent license for each iOS device that they sell, no-one can demand another license fee. It's already licensed and paid for. Lodsys is effectively asking to be paid multiple times for the same device, which they can't do.

So, assuming that Google and others are similarly licensed to Apple, Lodsys would not be entitled to any fees from apps on unofficial mods and third-party stores. That's because the Android mod or third-party apps could only run on devices which are already licensed — the mod or app might not license the patent directly, but each user of the mod or app effectively has, because Google or Apple or whoever paid their license fee to IV for the device. It could be that almost every owner of a smartphone in the world is already licensed for this patent, which would make Lodsys feel sick in the stomach (if trolls have stomachs?)

(Remember IANAL and IV got paid for the Apple license, not Lodsys, but who got paid makes no difference)

Re:In-App purchases (0)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222798)

my next phone will inevitably be an android given a lack of meego or webos devices. Day 1 i'll wipe it and install cyanogenmod. i may be in the minority but i have little interest in app stores and $2.95 shareware. Nor paying to receive movies on a 3.5" screen.
If patent trolls and mega-corporations drive a resurgence in free software (as in speech - replicant) on mobile devices, bring it on!

Re:In-App purchases (1)

Nick Ives (317) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223268)

The big question here is, what about Android mods like CyanogenMod and non-official stores?

Cyanogenmod doesn't include the official Android Market app, you have to get it separately. I would assume that non-official stores like the Amazon store have licensed this patent.

Re:In-App purchases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36224256)

I think you misunderstand something here - the REAL point of it being open is that the CARRIERS and HARDWARE manufacturers can customize it. That's 99% of the reason from a practical standpoint. Sure, telling your developers you're open is also great, but most people (even developers) aren't going to want to recompile the damned thing, and most carriers aren't going to want to allow an uncontrolled operating system on their networks anyway.

Kudos (3, Interesting)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221244)

Kudos to Apple for standing up to a group of people who are responsible for a large part of the success that the iPhone has achieved. I'll admit i didn't think apple had it in them. can you imagine the iphone without apps, it would be terrible.

Re:Kudos (1)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221256)

correction '..for a group of people'

Re:Kudos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221484)

I thought you were being sarcastic and crediting lodsys for a large part of the iPhone success. You don't see a lot of people rooting for the patent trolls, so I was sort of interested in where this would go. Until your correction. :(

Re:Kudos (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221412)

I can called the iphone 2g os 1.0

Re:Kudos (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221416)

Right, because no one would have EVER thought of that sort of functionality, functionality that has been around for a good two decades.

Posted as AC so I can mod down this troll.

Re:Kudos (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221428)

Aaaaand your correction cleared that up. Thought you were trolling and claiming that Lodsys's patent was responsible for the success of the iPhone. My bad.

Re:Kudos (1)

softWare3ngineer (2007302) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221524)

more mine. would be awesome if slashdot would let you edit your comments after you posted. maybe if the system gave you 2 minutes before anyone could reply and you could fix those errors you only see right after pressing the submit button. might help with those knee-jerk troll reactions too.

Re:Kudos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221970)

Not to be an ass, but that's what they made the preview button for....

The walled garden (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224298)

This makes all those laments about the walled garden seem hollow. Apple set up a system that specifically allows developers not to have to worry about e-commerce, or patents and copyrights. Sure it takes a cut, but as we can now see this may be worth it. It sure is to small developers.

All the poor chumps on Cydia now have Lodsys to contend with.

The proper place to put your wrath is on the asshole patent trolls that force the world to work like this.

The down side to this action by apple is that it re-inforces lodsys. that is it slams the door on future people who want to open marketplaces for apps or market apps outside of the concecrated marketplaces. By re-onforcing lodsys it is going to make the fee they charge higher for all the late arrivals who exists outside the apple-amazon-google tri-lateral markets.

Tip of the Iceberg (2)

code prole (675197) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221328)

Lodsys is only the tip of the patent lawsuit iceberg unfortunately. What happens when some patent holder who doesn't license directly to Apple (or Google in the case of Android) decides to send threatening letters to the application developers? The US Patent System is fundamentally broken. Today's letter from Apple to Lodsys may help iOS developers to dodge this bullet, but this is only the opening volley.

Re:Tip of the Iceberg (0, Troll)

OECD (639690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221382)

Indeed. I'm sure everyone is scrambling to see if they have a patent that Apple hasn't licensed. Weee! Free market at its finest!

Re:Tip of the Iceberg (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221556)

>>>Weee! Free market at its finest!

A patent-based market, by definition, is not a "free" market. A free market would not have any patents/artificial government-created monopolies, and people would copy each other liberally without restriction. i.e. free

Re:Tip of the Iceberg (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221614)

I find it odd that you are using a disfunctional government created monopoly system as an indictment of free markets. Either you don't understand what a free market is, or you've got quite the unthinking socialist tic.

Re:Tip of the Iceberg (1)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222746)

It is a thoroughly functional system, unless you somehow take disputes as a sign of dysfunction. Good luck ever eliminating those. The government certainly never planned that things would execute ideally, hence the legal system.

I know the /. party line is that everything would be perfect if only everyone were forced to share, and that is an ideal plan so long as you have ideal people - which is a tiny snag.

Re:Tip of the Iceberg (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 3 years ago | (#36222790)

Patents are one of those kludges that governments have to make to the "free market" in order for it to work at all. Without government interference, the capitalist system falls flat on it's ass. See Somalia.

Re:Tip of the Iceberg (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221450)

Lodsys is only the tip of the patent lawsuit iceberg unfortunately. What happens when some patent holder who doesn't license directly to Apple (or Google in the case of Android) decides to send threatening letters to the application developers? The US Patent System is fundamentally broken. Today's letter from Apple to Lodsys may help iOS developers to dodge this bullet, but this is only the opening volley.

And if Apple wins this fight, it will make other patent trolls wonder, Do we sue Apple and try to get them to cut us one big check, or do we go after individual developers and try to get all of them to cut us in?

Re:Tip of the Iceberg (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221762)

Actually, I don't think so.

The Lodsys claim was a particular threat because it could have potentially threatened every app developer that used the InApp Purchase API - -that was a low volume, high profit margin strategy because Lodsys wanted a percentage of all the revenue generated by InApp Purchase. If Lodsys won, they would have a never-ending revenue stream pouring in off a one-time legal win. But there aren't any other iOS APIs that are directly generate additional revenue beyond the app's purchase price. So if Apple wins and Lodsys can't make money off the InApp Purchase revenue stream, that leaves the course of trying to sue developers who use some other non-revenue-generating API. That's mostly a high volume/low profit margin strategy. The trolls could only ask for a percentage of the app's actual purchase price, and most iOS apps sell for $5 and tend not to be consistent sellers--they spike, then peter out (assuming they ever sell much at all). So the trolls would have to go after lots and lots of developers, one after another, to make any serious money and keep the revenue pouring in. I'm not sure that plan of attack would scale very well.

For example, consider if Lodsys or some other troll sued a company that sold 100,000 copies of MyCoolApp for $.99--which would be a *really* successful app. That company only walked away with $70,000 (Apple took %30), so demanding .575% would net a total return of $402. It would be like a Forty-Niner sifting through a mountain of mud looking for gold flakes. They'd have to go after hundreds of devs and demand exorbitant licensing fees of 5% or more to make any real money; and that's all assuming that Apple wouldn't come back and hit them with a legal letter like the one they just slapped Lodsys with.

The low-cost Apple and Android Apps Stores are creating an environment system where its unprofitable for patent trolls to target small developers. That's not to say there won't always be some trolls willing to roll the dice, but I think the patent trolls who are looking for the Big Score mostly won't bother going after small devs--lots of work, relatively little gain.

Apple's letter (5, Informative)

Stratoukos (1446161) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221338)

Full text of Apple's letter to Lodsys:

BY EMAIL AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL

May 23, 2011

Mark Small
  Chief Executive Officer
  Lodsys, LLC
[Address information removed]

Dear Mr. Small:

I write to you on behalf of Apple Inc. ("Apple") regarding your recent notice letters to application developers ("App Makers") alleging infringement of certain patents through the App Makers' use of Apple products and services for the marketing, sale, and delivery of applications (or "Apps"). Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys' infringement allegations against Apple's App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple's license rights.

Because I believe that your letters are based on a fundamental misapprehension regarding Apple's license and the way Apple's products work, I expect that the additional information set out below will be sufficient for you to withdraw your outstanding threats to the App Makers and cease and desist from any further threats to Apple's customers and partners.

First, Apple is licensed to all four of the patents in the Lodsys portfolio. As Lodsys itself advertises on its website, "Apple is licensed for its nameplate products and services." See http://www.lodsys.com/blog.html [lodsys.com] (emphasis in original). Under its license, Apple is entitled to offer these licensed products and services to its customers and business partners, who, in turn, have the right to use them.

Second, while we are not privy to all of Lodsys's infringement contentions because you have chosen to send letters to Apple's App Makers rather than to Apple itself, our understanding based on the letters we have reviewed is that Lodsys's infringement allegations against Apple's App Makers rest on Apple products and services covered by the license. These Apple products and services are offered by Apple to the App Makers to enable them to interact with the users of Apple productsâ"such as the iPad, iPhone, iPod touch and the Apple iOS operating systemâ"through the use or Apple's App Store, Apple Software Development Kits, and Apple Application Program Interfaces ("APIs") and Apple servers and other hardware.

The illustrative infringement theory articulated by Lodsys in the letters we have reviewed under Claim 1 of U.S. Patent No. 7,222,078 is based on App Makers' use of such licensed Apple products and services. Claim 1 claims a user interface that allows two-way local interaction with the user and elicits user feedback. Under your reading of the claim as set out in your letters, the allegedly infringing acts require the use of Apple APIs to provide two-way communication, the transmission of an Apple ID and other services to permit access for the user to the App store, and the use of Apple's hardware, iOS, and servers.

Claim 1 also claims a memory that stores the results of the user interaction and a communication element to carry those results to a central location. Once again, Apple provides, under the infringement theories set out in your letters, the physical memory in which user feedback is stored and, just as importantly, the APIs that allow transmission of that user feedback to and from the App Store, over an Apple server, using Apple hardware and software. Indeed, in the notice letters to App Makers that we have been privy to, Lodsys itself relies on screenshots of the App Store to purportedly meet this claim element.

Finally, claim 1 claims a component that manages the results from different users and collects those results at the central location. As above, in the notice letters we have seen, Lodsys uses screenshots that expressly identify the App Store as the entity that purportedly collects and manages the results of these user interactions at a central location.

Thus, the technology that is targeted in your notice letters is technology that Apple is expressly licensed under the Lodsys patents to offer to Apple's App Makers. These licensed products and services enable Apple's App Makers to communicate with end users through the use of Apple's own licensed hardware, software, APIs, memory, servers, and interfaces, including Apple's App Store. Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys' patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys.

Through its threatened infringement claims against users of Apple's licensed technology, Lodsys is invoking patent law to control the post-sale use of these licensed products and methods. Because Lodsys's threats are based on the purchase or use of Apple products and services licensed under the Agreement, and because those Apple products and services, under the reading articulated in your letters, entirely or substantially embody each of Lodsys's patents, Lodsys's threatened claims are barred by the doctrines of patent exhaustion and first sale. As the Supreme Court has made clear, "[t]he authorized sale of an article that substantially embodies a patent exhausts the patent holder's rights and prevents the patent holder from invoking patent law to control postsale use of the article." Quanta Computer, Inc. v. LG Elecs., Inc., 553 U.S. 617 (2008).

Therefore, Apple requests that Lodsys immediately withdraw all notice letters sent to Apple App Makers and cease its false assertions that the App Makers' use of licensed Apple products and services in any way constitute infringement of any Lodsys patent.

Very truly yours,

Bruce Sewell
  Senior Vice President & General Counsel
  Apple Inc.

source [macworld.com]

Re:Apple's letter (2)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221452)

Full text of Apple's letter to Lodsys:

BY EMAIL AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL

May 23, 2011

Mark Small

  Chief Executive Officer

  Lodsys, LLC
[Address information removed]

Dear Mr. Small:

I write to you on behalf of Apple Inc. ("Apple") regarding your recent notice letters to application developers ("App Makers") alleging infringement of certain patents through the App Makers' use of Apple products and services for the marketing, sale, and delivery of applications (or "Apps"). Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the Apple App Makers are protected by that license. There is no basis for Lodsys' infringement allegations against Apple's App Makers. Apple intends to share this letter and the information set out herein with its App Makers and is fully prepared to defend Apple's license rights.

[snip]

Very truly yours,

Epstein's Mother

Finally Apple defines the word 'App' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36222778)

Is this a case of Apple legal dept's left hand not knowing what Apple legal dept's right hand is doing? Isn't Apple trying to argue that the word 'App' doesn't just mean 'application'? Yet here, in a legal document from Apple, they have confirmed what everyone already knew: 'App' means 'application'. Oops.

Re:Apple's letter (2)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224394)

Shouldn't that be App Makers®, just to differentiate them from Android App Developers?

OK, but not the best outcome (2)

ThePolkapunk (826529) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221470)

This is OK, but I'd much prefer to see the patent ruled invalid. I've always heard it's a "failing defense" to challenge a patent based on prior art, but this just screams of prior art, to say nothing of obviousness. I hope it'll be tossed out in a court case.

I can't believe someone actually licensed this (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221480)

It's great that Apple is defending the devs. It's nice to see a patent troll get beat down, but it's not much of a victory when they already got their money for this completely obvious and bogus patent.

Here's [lodsys.com] a list of their patents. They keep calling these "inventions" and the guy listed on the patents (Dan Abelow) is called a "prolific inventor" but after reading the patents he just seems like an opportunist who managed to get a couple blatantly obvious ideas through the patent system.

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (2)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221668)

IIUC, Lodsys didn't actually get any money out of this, and the original "inventor" sold all his patents quite a long time ago -- to Intellectual Ventures (eventually: its possible they changed hands a few times before IV got them)

They're the one who Apple signed a license deal with, and if I'm not mistaken, it was a pretty broad license to quite a lot of patents. These were just a couple included. It wouldn't surprise me if the bundle included a lot of junk to shore up the numbers in the deal -- after all, IV later sold these off to Lodsys, so they can't really have thought they were that valuable.

Lodsys wants to grow up and be an IV-scale patent troll, but alas, they wasted their money.

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (1)

PhrostyMcByte (589271) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221724)

This doesn't make much sense, but I suppose it comes down to how they licensed it. If Apple is allowed to sub-license the patent to whoever they want, then right on. If not, then for this to work it means your apps are all owned entirely by Apple. Now that's a scary thought!

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221848)

They don't have to sub-license it to anyone, The app developers are merely using the system licensed, owned and provided by apple.

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36225122)

According to patent law you need a license to use patented technology. It's retarded, but it's true.

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (1)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36225270)

Uh, nonsense.

You need a license to make something that incorporates patented technology. You don't have to have a license to use that thing made. Read TFA: the first sale doctrine applies. The guy who made something with the technology, has a license. The people who just use it, don't. You invent something that makes metal extra hard, and I make a hammer out of it. I need a license. I give that hammer to my friend, he doesn't.

Now, stuff gets stupid when you start mixing patents with software: what is "making" and what is "using"? Lodsys' position is basically that every app maker is 'making' something new that uses their technology. Apple says no: they made the framework, that app developers are simply using.

People can start arguing about linking and what constitutes a new thing, and all of that, and I could see how you could sort of make Lodsys' argument. Sort of. But I'm betting on Apple's lawyers on this.

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (1)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221858)

No, but the "in-app purchasing" framework IS owned by Apple. They wrote it, and provide it on their devices. App developers are just making use of it.

Apple has a license to the tech, and made a implementation of that tech, which they require app developers use. The developers aren't implementing anything. They just plug into an API.

What Lodsys is doing is really like requiring a license for using a hammer, instead of making one. Of course, analogies about software and patents and cars never go over well, or make perfect sense, but.

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226152)

that's okay ... NOTHING about software patents makes sense....

Re:I can't believe someone actually licensed this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221924)

There is no sub-licensing. The portions of code which implement what is laid out in the patent are all apple produced code. The individual apps use of an API does not (or should not) constitute patent infringement if the underlying code is licensed.

Basically it comes down to the fact that the same code does not need to be licensed twice. Apple licensed it and created an API. Now anyone who uses that API should not have to purchase a license.

i would hope... (4, Insightful)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221560)

...that lodsys completely destroys all app devs, and the whole app market as a whole, ultimately raising awareness to the ridiculous framework of patents and litigation in our country... ultimately leading to serious reform.

Re:i would hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36222918)

...that lodsys completely destroys all app devs, and the whole app market as a whole, ultimately raising awareness to the ridiculous framework of patents and litigation in our country... ultimately leading to serious reform.

Just to comment on your "Insightful" comment, Schadenfreude is pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.

Schadenfreude.

Re:i would hope... (1)

geminidomino (614729) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224818)

Except he wasn't talking about schadenfreude. He was talking about this being the newsworthy case that brings (at least part) of the IP clusterfuck to critical mass in the public eye.

Re:i would hope... (1)

joocemann (1273720) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224846)

Except he wasn't talking about schadenfreude. He was talking about this being the newsworthy case that brings (at least part) of the IP clusterfuck to critical mass in the public eye.

Thanks for helping clear that up.

No, I do not take pleasure in others' pain, but I do appreciate changes for the better and the difficulty that is often had in the process.

Re:i would hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36224820)

Fuck you, lady, that's what stairs are for.

Re:i would hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36225898)

But that won't happen, sadly. If they come even close to winning they'll just get loads of money for this completely obvious and thoroughly worthless 'invention'. To destroy the system, IMHO, you need somebody to set out with that explicit intention (I think Google may be the only company who could even consider doing that, given that they own a large number patents, have lots of cash and have openly criticized the system, but I don't think they'd try because they're no longer the idealistic young fighter they once were).

Re:i would hope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36226288)

Jeez, you don't want much, do you? As long as we're at it, I hope that RIAA execs voluntarily donate their ill-gotten gains to starving artists around the world, that Al Qaida turns into a gardening club, and that 51% of people elected to office in the US aren't out and out brazen crooks for sale to the highest bidder.

Oh, and I'd like a pony :)

Seriously, it does seem like something has to give at some point. US history has a couple examples where the people just finally get tired of the crooks in charge and clean house. I'm really hoping (yeah, me too) that we'll collectively have enough. Soon.

Maybe people could stop complaining... (-1, Flamebait)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221688)

and just buy a license.

Deal with it, this company was the first to PATENT this technology...

So you need to buy a license to use this tech.

If you don't like it, stop offering in-app upgrades. Why is that so difficult for people to understand? I know why.. because they want their "Freeware app" to lure in buyers..

DEAL WITH IT, make your app either free or completely pay for. Stop offering in-app upgrades unless you want to license the technology (and it's not like they are being unreasonable in what they are asking for a license, it's a very very small amount)

It's not Apple's fault developers didn't do their research on patents before they made a product. This is something *every company* has to do during R&D. As a matter of fact, most companies hire entire DIFFERENT companies to see if they are in violation of any patents! Just because you're a 'little guy' should mean you're immune to this procedure? I think not. When you are developing, you NEED to make sure you are not violating any patents. If it does violate patents, find a different way.

It really is that simple, I don't understand why everyone is up in arms... well I do.. people want something for nothing. If ANY ONE of these developers were the one to come up/patent this idea, they would be equally as pissed if every single app on the bigger app-market in the world used their technology without a license; I know I would be furious.

Re:Maybe people could stop complaining... (1)

gstrickler (920733) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221778)

And maybe one day, idiots will bother to read and/or research an item on /. before posting a response that clearly indicates they didn't do either.

Re:Maybe people could stop complaining... (3, Informative)

Ixokai (443555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36221790)

Umm, hello?

Even if this patent is valid and legitimate (of which I have serious doubts, but IANAL) -- the whole point of this little TFA is that Apple did buy a license; Apple then implemented the technology in their OS, in their devices. That license covers the implementation of in-app purhcases used by app developers: they are covered.

Lodsys (who was NOT the company nor the "inventor" who first patented the "technology") is trying to extort more money and require licenses from people who do not owe them anything. These people are merely using what Apple is providing. Lodsys claims Apple's license doesn't cover all the app developers who are using Apple-provided and Apple-mandated technology: and Apple's legal department begs to differ.

I know which one I'd bet on.

Re:Maybe people could stop complaining... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223192)

It really is that simple, I don't understand why everyone is up in arms... well I do.. people want something for nothing

Do you have a copy of windows? Did you pay all the companies that Microsoft had to license patents from in order to sell that copy of windows to you? No? Why not, why are you entitled to infringe their patents for free just because Microsoft paid?

Apple paid for a license for the iTunes Store. Apps use the iTunes Store to perform in-app purchases. Why should the app developers have to pay for iTunes using the patent, especially when Apple already purchased a license for the iTunes Store?

Re:Maybe people could stop complaining... (1)

multiplexo (27356) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224424)

Let me guess. You're either

A) A completely ignorant piece of shit who should do everyone a favor by killing himself with a shotgun (and please, if you do so don't fuck it up like those Judas Priest morons, jam the barrel into your mouth and then pull the trigger).
B) An employee at Lodsys.
C) An employee at Intellectual Vultures.
D) A and B.
E) A and C.

Look fuckstick. Just because you have a patent doesn't mean that it's any good. the USPTO is over worked and underfunded and as a result some incredibly bad patents are being approved. This is great if you're a parasitic scum like Lodsys or Intellectual Vultures because you can buy up a whole bunch of these bogus patents and then make money off of them by blackmailing companies into paying you license fees by holding the threat of litigation over their heads.

Let me explain it to you another way. Suppose I patent the idea for a machine that turns tap water into unlimited energy. I don't have a working model, I haven't proved the concept, in fact I have no idea how to build such a thing. I just file a patent application for a machine that turns tap water into energy and USPTO approves it. Now, a few years later you come along and actually build a machine that turns tap water into unlimited energy and offer it for sale and as soon as you do I sue you in the Eastern District of Texas for infringing upon my patent. Now, the way the patent system is currently working, it doesn't matter that I never built a machine that turned tap water into unlimited energy or even that I never had any idea of how to do so. If my bogus patent is approved by the USPTO I get to sue your ass and if I win I get to collect lots of free money from you even though you're the guy who did all of the hard work and actually invented the machine that turns tap water into unlimited energy.

Re:Maybe people could stop complaining... (-1, Troll)

Eric(b0mb)Dennis (629047) | more than 3 years ago | (#36224618)

hahhaha /.'s troll-sense must be off lately

I was obviously a troll, I know this lodsys stuff has everyone up in a frenzy, I was just bored and fishing for replies.. you should see my other thread, so many ragers.

Re:Maybe people could stop complaining... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36225174)

I think I speak for quite a few Slashdotters when I say "Fuck off asshole".

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36221940)

How the hell is this patentable?

"Apple's App Store" lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36222578)

"Apple's App Store" sounds generic in tfa, page 2, para 1.

Apples's App Store
Amazon's App Store

Sure sounds generic, like:
Apples's Shoe Store
Amazon's Shoe Store

Or:
Apples's Store
Amazon's Store

for that matter.

Store within an app == obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36223128)

Witness, coffee shops within a library (or bookstore). See that is the same idea. Let's patent everything that is obvious now.

Surprise (1)

StephenBrannen (2012480) | more than 3 years ago | (#36223948)

I'm surprised someone hasn't found a way to say Apple is evil for defending its app developers. Pretty much every other story on Slashdot about Apple brings the haters out.

nice wording (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36227604)

I like how the wording of the article implies a causal relationship between the EFF's call and Apple's actions.

Note to EFF: you had nothing to do with this.

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