Patent Troll Going After iPhone/iPad Developers Who Use In-App Payments

from the oh-come-on dept

Another day, another example of a patent system holding back innovation. The latest is that a typical patent troll operation, named Lodsys, is threatening and/or suing a bunch of iOS mobile app developers for daring to make use of Apple's own in-app payment API to offer the ability to make purchases from within their apps. Lodsys lists out four patents that "are available for licensing."
  • 5,999,908: Customer-based product design module
  • 7,133,834: Product value information interchange server
  • 7,222,078: Methods and systems for gathering information from units of a commodity across a network
  • 7,620,565: Customer-based product design module
It appears that whichever patents Lodsys is using in bringing this claim, it's applying them extremely broadly. Meanwhile, the various developers who have now been sued are pretty freaked out. Most of them appear to be small shops -- perhaps just an individual developer -- whose big "mistake" was to actually use the tools Apple provided to make their software better. I can't see how anyone can defend a lawsuit like this as promoting the progress. The idea that in-app payments wouldn't have come along without these patents is -- on its face, preposterous in the extreme. Putting in-app payments into products is a natural evolution, and any programmer with a modicum of skills could have figured out ways to implement it. To claim that a patent was needed in this arena is simply ridiculous.

Filed Under: commerce, in-app payments, patents, trolls
Companies: apple, lodsys


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  1. icon
    Mike42 (profile), 13 May 2011 @ 3:15pm

    Re:

    You are correct. The only thing that protects you from patents is obscurity. Almost all the checks and balances of the USPTO have been nullified. The reviewers are unskilled in the field of programming, but they should be able to rely on the submitter who claims that the patent is not obvious or trivial. There is no consequence for lying, however. Also, prior art defenses have proved weak if not useless in recent years. Add to this poorly written patents which over-generalize, and you have the modern-day disaster.
    Basically, the patent system never really was all that great, but it's been perverted to massively favor litigious patent-holders over community-minded innovators.

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