Ole Begemann

iOS Development

Best iOS and Mac development-related links: May 2011

Here is my summary of the past month in links:


The story of the month was certainly that of patent troll Lodsys. In chronological order:

On May 13th, James Thomson tweeted that he was threatened with a patent infringement lawsuit over in-app purchase by (what we later learned) Lodsys, together with handful of other small developers.

While the developer community waited for Apple to respond, Lodsys tried to explain themselves to the public in a series of blog posts. Craig Grannell took them apart. Meanwhile, the EFF asked Apple to stand up and defend their developers and Mike Lee proposed that developers boycott the in-app purchasing API to show both the patent trolls what we think and Apple what we expect of them:

What I propose is this: for every API that is infected by parasites, we cut off the branch and boycott the API. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect to be able to use an API without being sued, the same way it’s not unreasonable to expect to use an API without getting spam.

Craig Hockenberry of the Iconfactory wrote an open letter to Steve Jobs. With the deadline set by Lodsys approaching, some people reasonably started suggesting for targeted developers to cooperate with Lodsys in order to avoid a very costly lawsuit.

On May 23rd, Apple finally responded publicly by publishing a letter sent to Lodsys, claiming that app developers are protected by the license Apple has acquired to the Lodsys patents.

Many expected Lodsys would now retract their claims and this would be over, others warned that Lodsys could still decide to sue. And that’s what they did: in response to Apple’s letter, on May 31st Lodsys publicly disputed Apple’s assertion that their license covers app developers and announced that they have sued seven relatively small iOS app developers, among them the Iconfactory and Quickoffice.

Florian Mueller at FOSS Patents has covered not only that last part but the whole case extensively.

Unfortunately, this story is not over yet. I can’t imagine how bad it must feel to be faced with such a meaningless and potentially destructive lawsuit. I really hope we as a community can do our best to help those unlucky seven. Also, let’s not forget that while the Lodsys case gets all the attention, a company named MacroSolve has also sued small developers over patent infringement.

It will be interesting to see if Steve Jobs decides to talk about it during the WWDC keynote next week. I think it would mean a lot to developers if he did.


Let’s move on to happier news:


App Store