Apple filed a request to intervene in a patent lawsuit brought by Lodsys against seven small independent iOS application developers.
Developers have sought Apple's formidable legal help and financial resources in the patent case after being confronted in letters from Lodsys in early May over alleged patent infringement for technology used to help customers make purchases inside iOS apps sold in the App Store.
Lodsys, a patent holding company, filed suit against the developers on May 31 in US District Court for the eastern district of Texas. Lodsys focused on two patents it holds: US Patent No. 7,620,565 related to a "customer-based design module" and US Patent No. 7,222,078 related to making purchases inside an application.
Florian Mueller, writer of the FOSS Patents blog, Apple's request to intervene, but said the court is "fairly likely" to allow Apple's involvement. "It's good news that Apple now wants to confront Lodsys in court," Mueller wrote.
Apple's 21 page motion says it should be allowed to intervene partly because it already has a licence to the very patents in dispute. "Both Lodsys' complaint and its threats to other Apple developers adversely affect the value of Apple's licence and its business with the developers," Apple said.
Apple also noted that it is tied into an ecosystem with independent software developers through the iPhone and iPad, the iOS operating system and the App Store. And it said Lodsys has not described precisely how the seven iOS developers infringed on the two patents described in the suit.
The seven iOS developers named in the Lodsys lawsuit are:
- Combay of Texas, maker of Megan Poker Online Texas Hold'em for iPhone
- Iconfactory of North Carolina, maker of Twitterrific for iPhone and iPad
- Illusion Labs of Sweden, maker of Labyrinth for iPhone
- Michael Karr, doing business as Shovelmate of Las Vegas, maker of 69 Positions for iPhone
- QuickOffice of Texas, maker of QuickOffice Connect for iPhone
- Richard Shinderman of New York, maker of Hearts and Daggers for iPhone
- Wulven Game Studios of Vietnam, maker of Shadow Era for iPhone