iOS devs threatened over in-app purchase patent claims

TUAW reports that several iOS developers have received claims of patent infringement over in-app purchasing within iOS applications, all apparently from the company Lodsys. James Thomson, UK-based developer of the popular PCalc calculator apps sent out a tweet earlier this morning stating that he had just received a package of legal papers via FedEx advising him that he is infringing a company’s patent and has 21 days to license it. Thomson also noted that his latest update to PCalc Lite was approved by Apple this morning, but that he has decided to delay the release to avoid the potential of “hurt[ing] any future case.”

Patrick McCarron of Chicago-based iOS developer MobileAge also confirmed via Twitter that he had received a similar patent threat via FedEx for in-app purchase use, most likely from the same company, although both developers have declined to disclose the other party involved in the complaint. Both have contacted Apple Legal for further guidance as the infringement claim concerns the use of Apple’s in-app purchase technology built into the iOS operating system rather than any specific feature that has been created by the developers themselves.

An additional report from Mac Rumors reveals that Rob Gloess of Computer LogicX has also received a legal complaint regarding the use of an “Upgrade” button in the lite version of his application Mix & Mash, providing users with a link to the full version in the App Store. The documents that Gloess received make the claim that the “button that users click on to upgrade the app was in breach of US patent no 7222078.” Mac Rumors reveals that the patent in question was filed in 2003 and is connected to patent holding firm Lodsys, which purchased the patents from the original holder in 2004 and has been revealed as the company issuing lawsuit threads in the Computer LogicX case. 

Update: Lodsys also launched a patent infringement suit earlier this year against Brother, Canon, HP, Hulu, Lenovo, Lexmark, Motorola, Novell, Samsung, and Trend Micro alleging infringement of the same patent 7,222,078, “Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network” among several others. Several companies named in the earlier suit have recently responded stating that the Lodsys “patents and invalid and unenforceable.”