Developers at WWDC were frustrated not to hear a word from Steve Jobs about the war patent firm Lodsys is waging against third-party developers. But at long last—okay fine, nine days later—Apple has come out swinging. Yesterday, they filed a motion to intervene in Lodsys’ lawsuit against seven small-time iOS app developers for an in-app purchase mechanism. The court has yet to decide whether it will grant Apple’s motion to act as an intervenor,which Lodsys has the power to oppose. But Apple has already submitted its answer to Lodsys’ complaint and a counterclaim. Apple’s proposed defense is that the alleged infringements are covered under an existing license agreement in Apple’s favor.
Skepticism against the value of patents and their potential deterrent on innovation has been heating up lately, with Fred Wilson leading the charge. Apple’s intervention, if successful, could ward off similar patent trolling against other iOS developers. The defendants in Lodsys case are bound by an NDA and thus can’t speak about their relationship with Apple. The motion to intervene says that the developers:
“Are individuals or small entities with far fewer resources than Apple and […] lack the technical information, ability, and incentive to adequately protect Apple’s rights under its license agreement.”
Foss Patents speculates:
While I don’t have any confirmation from anyone that Apple has agreed to cover those defendants’ costs and potential risks, it’s hard to imagine how else this could work.
Stay tuned as this could get ugly. Developers at WWDC earlier this week certainly made their hatred of Lodsys known. On Monday, Hector Ramos, an iOS developer and Polsense employee tweeted:
Just said the name “Lodsys” out loud in a bar and the music skipped, everybody shut up and a car crashed outside
Hernan Pelassini chimed in:
“@cffry: If I’m correct, the One More Thing will be a live performance of a real Lion devouring the Lodsys team.” best #WWDC rumor.
But our favorite anti-Lodys joke came via Yves Gonzalez who tweeted, “Look who’s at WWDC!,” followed by this Instagram photo: