Lodsys Hits iOS, Android Developers with Patent Lawsuits

Lodsys versus the worldLodsys, the patent holding company that recently gained notoriety with the Apple community for threatening to sue independent developers over in-app purchases, has gone ahead and filed lawsuits against several coders earlier than expected. Seven developers were targeted, including companied that code for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Android, and even Mac OS X.

The lawsuits came in response to a letter Apple sent to Lodsys requesting the company abandon its legal actions against developers. “Lodsys chose to move its litigation timing to an earlier date than originally planned, in response to Apple’s threat, in order to preserve its legal options,” the patent holder stated in a blog post.

Lodsys set its sites on independent developers over claims that Apple and Google’s licenses for its patents don’t cover third-party products. The patents in question relate in-app purchases and upgrades.

Apple’s legal team didn’t agree with the company’s interpretation of the patent agreement, so it stepped in and sent a letter to Lodsys CEO Mark Small stating that its patent license clearly covers third party developers.

“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’s letter stated. “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.”

Lodsys wasn’t, however, impressed with Apple’s argument. “Unfortunately for Developers, Apple’s claim of infallibility has no discernable basis in law or fact,” the company said.

“Before, during and after these interactions, Lodsys has carefully considered this issue and consulted several legal experts to consider Apple’s claims,” the patent holder said. “We stand firm and restate our previous position that it is the 3rd party Developers that are responsible for the infringement of Lodsys’ patents and they are responsible for securing the rights for their applications.”

The company went on to apparently make it appear as if the big companies are essentially hanging independent developers out to dry.

“Platform providers such as Apple and Google actively encourage 3rd party Developers to develop on their platforms and provide enabling technology in the form of development kits, APIs… etc.,” the company said. “The real debate is what promise they are making to 3rd party Developers who choose to develop applications on that platform and what kind and scope of IP rights will be included (or more likely, not).”

So far, Lodsys has targeted Iconfactory for its Twitteriffic app for the iPhone, iPad and Mac, Combay for its iPhone poker apps, Illusion Labs AB for its Labarynth game for the iPhone and Android, Shovelmate for 69 Positions for the iPhone, Quickoffice for Quickoffice Connect for the iPhone, Wolven Games for Shadow Era for the iPhone, and Richard Simmons for Hearts and Daggers for iPhone.

Lodsys filed its lawsuits in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas — a court that’s known for being sympathetic to patent holders, according to FOSS Patents.

Apple hasn’t commented on the filings.