Apple moved to protect seven independent software developers, and its own mobile platform, on Thursday by intervening in a patent infringement lawsuit filed in Texas.The suit is being closely watched by the media and by developers who worry that they may have to pay additional licensing fees to the patent holding company Lodsys in addition to the existing percentage of revenues that they pay to Apple for selling their services on iOS, the iPhone, iTouch and iPad’s operating system.
Lodsys’s patent infringement suit centers on in-app purchases, a function that it says the developers must license from them.
In its filing with the Texas court Thursday, Apple said that it has already paid up for those licenses and that Lodsys is not entitled to a second round of fees from the developers.
Apple told the judge that it is entitled to intervene in the case because the dispute centers on its technology and its existing license with Lodsys.
And the dispute is negatively affecting its relationship with the developers, upon which it relies for revenues.
“This litigation has fundamentally disrupted Apple’s relationships with the developers and with other developers, and places in jeopardy the revenue that Apple derives from those relationships,” wrote Apple’s lawyers in its court filing.
Finally, argued Apple, the developers might not have enough money to fight the suit and to represent Apple’s interests properly.
Florian Mueller, an independent software patent expert who has been tracking the litigation, notes that this development is worrisome for its broader implications.
Obviously Lodsys might target developers on other platforms as well.
Lodsys disagrees with Apple’s position on its blog, and says that it’s merely seeking to get paid what it’s owed.