¶ If You Mess with the Bull…

About a week and a half ago, patent troll Lodsys started sending out letters to US-based iOS developers claiming they were infringing upon patents held by Lodsys regarding the use of Apple's In-App Purchase system. In a gist, they claimed Apple held a license to these patents, but that license did not trickle down to third-party developers.

This is especially troubling for the iOS ecosystem because the majority of developers are individual people or very small companies. These developers cannot afford a long, drawn out legal battle with a company that exists solely to litigate patent suits. Instead, these developers would just have to pay the license fee. Granted, the fee Lodsys was requesting is quite small and likely wouldn't put too many developers out of business, the problem stands that once one patent troll goes after developers, others will follow.

That would make developing for iOS fairly unattractive. How could a developer trust that a new feature Apple rolls out in the SDK wouldn't invite more licensing fees? Basically, if Lodsys had its way with developers, iOS as a development platform would dry up really fast.

So ever since all this broke, a lot of folks have been waiting to see how Apple would respond.

From Apple Senior Vice President & General Counsel, Bruce Sewell, to Lodsys, LLC, today:

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 patent 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.


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.


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.


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.

A saying my Dad has favored as long as I can remember comes to mind:

If you mess with the bull, you're going to get the horns.

Well said, Dad. Well said.