Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Amazon Exposure to Lodsys' In-App Purchase Patents?

Tonight, Alan Cooper sent me a CNET article: Amazon's new Appstore feature could be patent suit baitAmazon had announced an in-app purchase feature that offers software developers the ability to give users the option of spending money inside an app. Even if I don't like such a feature on my kids' iPad that can in a series of taps ring up a bill, the in-app purchase feature appears to be a billion dollar cash revenue source. Of course, if there is money to made, someone will claim patent protection on it.

So the article notes that Amazon has not entered into a licensing agreement with Lodsys Group LLC.  Lodsys (web site here) is the owner of the U.S. Patent Nos. 5,999,908, 7,133,834, 7,222,078 and 7,620,565. Lodsys has not been well received in the press as Lodsys (1) seeks compensation from sometimes tiny software developers; (2) has rebuffed Apple's position that the app developers have a license through their relationship with Apple; (3) has its headquarters in Marshall, Texas; and (4) has presumably been already well compensated from license agreements reached with hundreds of companies including American Express, Apple, eBay, Google, Intuit, Microsoft, Nokia-Siemens, Nvidia, SAP, Sony-Ericsson, Verizon, and Nokia. I don't haven't studied and therefore cannot quibble with the patents, but wonder about the wisdom of a strategy of chasing tiny software companies for licensing fees especially in view of the reexaminations pending against some of the patents.

Copyright © 2012 Robert Moll. All rights reserved.