So what is Lodsys, and what’s its game? It appears to simply be in the business of licensing patents which it purchased from Dan Abelow.
We were unable to reach Lodsys, but reached Abelow by phone. He noted he had sold his patents years ago, and was unaware of this morning’s news. But that he isn’t completely surprised. “Those patents are from the 1990s,” he said. “It isn’t surprising that methods of communicating with a server would become more useful over time. As a result they have become increasingly valuable.” (Abelow did not know the exact patent off the top of his head, but the patent in question appears to be number 7222078, based on other reports.)
All of which would make Lodsys look to be like a classic patent troll. And yet it’s taken a complex path to action. By going after indie developers, who can’t afford to fight (and would seem to even be prohibited from doing so by Apple’s own terms of service) it’s essentially snuck behind Apple legal’s lines. Unless Apple is willing to invest some of its own legal muscle in supporting developers, they are likely going to be left with little choice but to halt in-app purchases rather than fight an expensive lawsuit.
In the meantime, it’s an interesting day on Twitter. At least until the attorneys show up and make everyone STFU.