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Apple "actively investigating" Lodsys patent infringement claims

The Guardian reported that Apple is "actively investigating" the Lodsys patent infringement claims. Beginning on May 13, several iOS developers began reporting that they had been served with patent infringement notices regarding the use of upgrade buttons and in-app purchases in their apps. The company behind the patent infringement claims turned out to be Lodsys, a patent holding company based in Texas.

As our friend (and actual, real-life lawyer) Nilay Patel points out, the patent in question is US Patent #7,222,078, which Lodsys bought from inventor Dan Abelow in 2004 (Abelow remains a consultant to Lodsys and works with Webvention, the holder of some of his other patents). Currently, Lodsys is giving iOS developers 21 days to purchase licenses to use its patents, or face legal action. Understandably, many of the developers were unsure of what to make of Lodsys' claims, so they began contacting Apple's legal department seeking advice.

There's no word yet on the actions Apple will take from its investigation of the Lodsys patent claim, but it's nice to see that the company is standing behind its developers (if the Guardian report can be taken at face value; no other sources have come forward to note Apple's actions). However, The Guardian states that Apple is not expected to respond to the claims until later this week. Until then, developers can read about Lodsys response to criticism of its claims here. Also FOSS Patents has put together an excellent Q&A titled "What app developers need to know about Lodsys and the in-app upgrade button patent problem." Engadget also checked in with the EFF for advice on the patent situation.

If you're curious about some of Abelow's other patents, check out his site's listing of abstracts. The one labeled "Accessing, Assembling, and Using Bodies of Information" is worth a read.

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