EFF Urges Apple to Support Developers Against Lodsys Patent Threat

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 20, 2011.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) today issued a statement calling on Apple to defend App Store developers against patent lawsuit threats from Lodsys, a company seeking licenses from developers for their use of in app purchasing and upgrade links.

    The EFF lays out its case that because the developers are taking advantage of Apple's developer tools to deploy the functionality being cited in the dispute, Apple is in the best position to defend against the threat.
    Apple's developer agreement, however, precludes developers from turning to Apple for assistance in legal disputes, meaning the company could leave developers to fend for themselves.

    Many observers have, however, argued that it is in Apple's best interest to step into the situation, shouldering the cost and effort in order to protect its valuable ecosystem of independent App Store developers. If developers are reluctant to embrace the App Store for fear of being targeted by lawsuits driven by their use of Apple technology, the platform could suffer significantly.
    Meanwhile, one week has passed since the first notices from Lodsys arrived in developers' hands, leaving two weeks until the firm's deadline for licensing passes and at which point it has threatened to file suits against the developers. Apple has yet to address the issue publicly, but the company is famous for waiting to speak until it has a firm grasp of the facts at hand rather than trying to address public relations crises as quickly as possible.

    Article Link: EFF Urges Apple to Support Developers Against Lodsys Patent Threat
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    ratzzo

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    #2
    Apple should obviously aim at protecting those who have made its Store what it is today.
     
  3. macrumors 68000

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    #3
  4. macrumors 68030

    Popeye206

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    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    It will be interesting to see how this pans out. Seems odd they waited so long to start protecting this patent. Very troll like.
     
  5. macrumors regular

    thogs_cave

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    You're not alone. When was it decided that litigation was more important than innovation?
     
  6. macrumors 601

    HiRez

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    Apple will have to respond. But, it takes time for them to investigate these things. Patent law is notoriously obscure and convoluted and I'm sure there's many, many possibilities and potential pitfalls involved. Apple has to be very careful as to what response they make and the exact wording of it. If they're already licensing Lodsys patents themselves, it gets even trickier for them.

    Look at Apple's history, they generally do not respond to anything until they have a complete, thoroughly investigated solution or explanation ready to go. iPhone4 antennas, the cel tower "tracking", the Hon Hai suicides and worker abuse allegations, the white iPhone production problems, the various security exploits, and so on. They wait until they have the full grasp of the situation before they officially respond. Which is smart but can be annoying for those with a vested interest.

    While it may look like they have their head buried in the sand and are doing nothing, I'm sure that is not the case.
     
  7. macrumors member

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    Will Others Just Free Load

    Don't see any mention of the RIMS, Androids and other software stores being involved or asked to take a stand. Hopefully, they will do their part and not just free load on Apple's efforts. A concerted effort by all of them would certainly have a better result.
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    Earendil

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    #8
    But only if they can. Apple has licensed the technology from them, so Apple admits by their own action that the patent is valid and worth licensing.

    What the case will rest on is whether developers are protected by Apple's license. If Apple determines that they aren't, there is little that Apple can do but burn their own money, and burn that of the developers since until this is resolved, I'm sure the offending apps won't be allowed on the App Store.
     
  9. macrumors member

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    #9
    Developers should expect something for that 30% Apple App Store tax besides just distribution.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    Well Apple, use a tiny portion of those billions of $$$ you have to place things in order, it is just fair.
     
  11. macrumors 601

    HiRez

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    Yet. That's because they're not nearly as profitable or high profile as Apple's App Store and because Lodsys is casting a narrow net, as if they are "testing the waters". They know anything related to Apple gets attention, headlines, and they hope, faster results.
     
  12. macrumors 6502

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    #12
    It's a non-issue.

    -Steve
     
  13. macrumors 601

    HiRez

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    I'm sure Apple could pretty easily pay off Lodsys and protect developers. The problem is, that validates the whole scheme, and this is just one patent of thousands out there. If Apple caves, many others will surely follow, then it really becomes a problem. Apple cannot afford to cover licensing costs for (potentially) dozens or hundreds of these patents for all developers. Plus, if small developers start recieving a bunch of these lawsuits on a regular basis, think of the chilling effect that will have on the whole developer community. It's a disaster waiting to happen. They need to find a way to shut this down without encouraging other trolls.
     
  14. macrumors newbie

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    #14
    Come on, Apple. Grow a pair and protect those developers that have invested in your success.
     
  15. macrumors 68040

    MongoTheGeek

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    Scorched Earth...

    Any lawyers in the house? I guess there is no way to launch a pre-emptive strike? File a law suit somewhere besides Texas, to get the patent declared invalid as obvious, not actually an innovation, then perhaps file against other patents the company owns, even the ones they aren't trying to hit the developers with? Maybe file a class action suit.

    Xeroxed threatening letters are cheap. If Lodsys pays a real price for the behavior maybe we can scare off some of the other trolls.
     
  16. macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    #16
    Couldn't have said it better. Apple has a lot of good employees but none are miracle workers and things like this take time to research and investigate. Apple doesn't like to lose and I'm sure they are busy whipping up something as we speak. If they lost this many developers would be pissed and possibly rip their software from the App store. Apple isn't going to want that since its their money too.

    App store tax? I don't think so. Your paying for hosting, free publicity on the biggest software store available with an insanely easy sale system, and an opportunity to have your app rated by many people or displayed on the front page. 30% is really quite reasonable. If you want to see robbery look at console game developers who usually see 1 - 2% of the profits of a game while the publisher takes the rest.

    Agreed. I would rather them take their time and squash this rather than cave to it.
     
  17. macrumors 68030

    Popeye206

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    +1

    They always seem to be cautious.
     
  18. macrumors 6502

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    #18
    LOL. You should go to law school. You can be the first lawyer to do pro-bono work that a billion-dollar company should be doing to help themselves. :rolleyes:
     
  19. macrumors 68030

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    #19
    My take is that Apple Legal is going into overtime on this one. The whole idea of patent holder going after implementers of a third party core technology has rather weak president. I expect one of the following to occur just after Memorial Day weekend.

    1) Apple counter-sues Lodsys going after invalidation by showing prior art.
    2) Apple settles out of court with Lodsys for some sort of license.
    3) Apple buys Lodsys.

    Let's get ready to rumble!
     
  20. macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Back in 1992 I filed a patent for internet communication hubs known as forums. Now that the time is right, I am going to sue a bunch of websites.

    Die Lodsys. Of course, since I have a patent on death, you will have to pay me first.
     
  21. macrumors 68000

    ten-oak-druid

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    #21
    My opinion is that Lodsys has a right to its patent. But then I saw that Apple is complying with that patent already. Can one application of the patent require both Apple and the developers to pay patent right costs? If Apple is already paying for the use of it, does that not cover the developers selling apps within Apple's app store and running on Apple's iOS devices?

    Should be interesting.
     
  22. macrumors 6502

    aeaglex07

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    #22

    thats a very good point. I think the devs are protected since Apple owns the distribution channel, which is nature of this patent. but we shall see. I predict a payoff, i mean settlement.
     
  23. macrumors newbie

    EatSleepMac

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    #23
    Apple

    I doubt Apple will just leave its developers hanging like that. I'm sure they're just taking time to come up with the right course of action. If they do decide to let "developers fend for themselves" I could see a massive boycott from many indie devs. Basically Apple will not let this go unnoticed.
     
  24. macrumors member

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    #24
    I would argue that this is potentially a lot bigger than all the aforementioned items in your post.

    I honestly have a bad feeling about this one. I am starting to think they are going to make a simple we don't believe this to to be the case announcement and wait to see how it plays out in court.

    I develop for iDevices. I like Apple's toolsets for development. I appreciate the licensing model. However, I have great fear that they aren't going to do a thing, but say we don't believe developers are violating your patents, but take it to court.

    Anyone here with any real history targeting Apple platform(s) for development knows full well they have hung developers out to dry in the past.

    If this winds up going down a dark road then the best we can hope for is Lodsys suing a larger firm who becomes annoyed enough to in turn counter-sue Apple to get them involved by force. And, before anybody says that cannot happen because of Apple's license agreement - some big firm is going to make the case that Apple cannot protect themselves from liability trying to license technology it doesn't have the rights to in the first place. That's only going to happen if Lodsys makes the mistake of going after a large firm with an actual legal team...

    I have had two clients put contracts on hold with me for products they were interested in having us develop. This isn't an antenna issue, it is certainly not a workers rights issue this is the whole ecosystem up for grabs and the longer they wait massive amounts of money is lost all around.

    The way this is handled will put the entire future of small development outfits on the App Store up for grabs.
     
  25. macrumors 6502a

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    #25

    But imagine, in order to use YOUR STORE I have to pay for 3rd people patents. Is like any of use being sued for using patents running on OSX.

    If Apple does not do anything, then the problem will grow beyond this! Now every developer that creates "a feature" will start suing every single developer that uses it.

    Imagine: I designed and patented the infrared sensor of every mighty mouse, or the software that process that optical signal into data. Now I can suit ever user that makes money from my invention.

    A tile wave of demands like that will happen if there are not rules established. Because Apple was the company who ask you to use that sort of system.
     

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