A company called Lodsys bought a patent on upgrade buttons and is hitting small developers with shakedown notices. The insanity of the patent is immaterial, because it's cheaper to pay up than go to court. From MacRumors:
Yesterday, we received word from Rob Gloess of Computer LogicX, the company behind the Mix & Mash and Mix & Mash LITE applications for iOS, that he had received legal documents threatening a patent lawsuit over the use of an "upgrade" button in the lite version of his application linking users to the App Store where they could purchase the full version.
Our app, Mix & Mash, has the common model of a limited free, lite, version and a full version that contains all the features. We were told that the button that users click on to upgrade the app, or rather link to the full version on the app store was in breach of US patent no 7222078, we couldn't believe it, the upgrade button!?!
And Cult of Mac reports similar notices received by other devs over in-app purchase buttons.
The lead developer behind the popular Mac dock replacement DragThing and the fantastic iOS scientific calculator app pCalc is about to be sued for patent infringement because his software uses Apple's own in-app purchasing mechanism.
GigaOM reports of Lodsys: "Lodsys' entire business consists of licensing the patents it holds."
Adam C. Engst points out that Lodsys's patents cover features integral to Apple's platform, meaning the developers cannot comply with its licensing demands without violating their existing license agreement with Apple. In essence, if the victims pay up, they will be agreeing that Apple's in-app upgrade/purchase features violate Lodsys's patents. [tidbits via Daring Fireball]
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