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Apple backs devs in patent infringement case

Third parties receive help as in-app upgrade case targets iOS developers

Third party iOS developers caught up in a patent infringement case have won the backing of Apple, as the company demands that legal challenges to using in-app upgrades are dropped.

The legal case is being brought by company Lodsys, which has contacted a range of iOS developers with a demand of 0.575 per cent of their U.S. revenues. Lodsys claims that it has patents, filed 19 years ago, which cover in-app upgrades where users pay to access additional content or purchase a full game.

Although the four patents in question are valid, Apple argues that it licensed them from Lodsys and that all developers producing content for iOS are also covered as a result.

As a result Apple has weighed in on the side of the developers and asked Lodsys to withdraw the demands. However, the exact degree to which Apple would be willing to defend developers, if the cases go to court, is unclear.

The letter sent by Apple senior vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell to Lodsys has been obtained in full by website Macworld, in which he suggests that Lodsys' demands are based on, "a fundamental misapprehension regarding Apple's license and the way Apple's products work".

"I expect that the additional information set out below will be sufficient for you to withdraw your outstanding threats to the App Makers and cease and desist from any further threats to Apple's customers and partners," states Sewell.

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David Jenkins