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Apple on Thursday moved to intervene in a lawsuit by patent licensing company Lodsys over in-app purchases, according to FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller. Apple wants to put itself between Lodsys and seven independent iOS developers that Lodsys sued in district court in Texas on May 31.
If the court accepts Apple’s motion to intervene in the proceedings, Apple would be added as a defendant and counterclaim plaintiff. Thus, Lodsys would have to square off against Apple’s vast resources and legal team rather than that of the small-time developers.
The lawsuit is centered around a patent for in-app purchases, which Apple has a license from Lodsys to use. But Lodsys argues that the license does not cover app developers.
Apple vehemently disagrees and said that the license it has extends to the APIs it provides to developers. Apple said it is “expressly licensed to provide to the developers products and services that embody the patents in the suit, free from claims of infringement of those patents.”
FOSS Patents’ Mueller said it is “likely” that Apple will be admitted as an intervener based on precedent and that Apple would probably cover the developers’ legal costs. In Apple’s filings, the company said 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.”
I’m sure that the sued developers are breathing a little easier now that Apple wants to stand behind them. But at this point, it’s unclear what direction the case will take.
More information on the case will likely be released in the coming days, and we’ll let you know when new developments surface.