A new patent hits the App Store developers by an unknown third party, over a Apple’s mechanism – making in-app purchases and upgrade links. According to MacRumors, this patent in question was filed in 2003 and describes a rather vague way for systems to “[gather] information from units of a commodity across a network.” The patent appears to describe a “Customer Design System” module built into a product that allows for vendors to adapt to customers’ needs and supply changes on demand. Somehow, the idea of purchasing upgrades within an app falls under this huge definition.
The company in question Lodsys, received a portfolio of patents from an individual named Dan Abelow.
Rob Gloess of Computer LogicX, the company behind the Mix & Mash and Mix & Mash LITE stated:
Our app, Mix & Mash, has the common model of a limited free, lite, version and a full version that contains all the features. We were told that the button that users click on to upgrade the app, or rather link to the full version on the app store was in breach of US patent no 7222078, we couldn’t believe it, the upgrade button!?!
James Thomson, the developer behind PCalc, has also been hit with a similar notice. While Thomson hasn’t identified the company pursuing the action, the timing and details suggest that Lodsys is also responsible.
“Just got hit by very worrying threat of patent infringement lawsuit for using in-app purchase in PCalc Lite. Legal docs arrived via fedex,” Thomson wrote.
“No idea what to do… They seem to be effectively claiming the rights to in-app purchase, but going after me, not Apple.”
Thomson has reached out to Apple for guidance, and it remains to be seen how things will play out. According to Thomson, the patent holder is demanding that a license be negotiated within 21 days or a lawsuit will be filed.