or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › EFF says Apple should support iOS developers in Lodsys patent threats
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

EFF says Apple should support iOS developers in Lodsys patent threats

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation has called on Apple to defend iOS developers from the threat of a patent lawsuit from Lodsys over in-app purchasing functionality in iOS apps.

EFF staff attorney Julie Samuels published a blog post on Friday expressing concern over "Apple's failure to defend" third-party iOS developers who received letters from Lodsys last week accusing them of infringing on a patent that covers in-app purchasing functionality. In the letters, Lodsys demanded that developers license the technology in question within 21 days or face possible legal action.

"We've been waiting expectantly for Apple to step up and protect the app developers accused of patent infringement solely for using a technology that Apple required they use in order to sell their apps in Apple's App Store," Samuels wrote.

After many accused the company of being a 'patent troll,' Lodsys defended its actions by noting that Apple had licensed its technology, adding that Apple's license doesn't cover third-party developers. Google and Microsoft have also licensed technology from the company.

Lodsys seeks 0.575 percent of U.S. revenue from the period of the notice letter to the expiration of the patent, plus applicable usage. Developers are accused of violating U.S. Patent No. 7222078, entitled "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network."

However, EFF argues that, since Apple both provides and requires the use of the functionality in iOS, it should defend the developers in question, many of whom "lack the resources" for a legal confrontation. According to Samuels, the problem is a "misallocation of burden" because developers should not be required to investigate whether technologies Apple provides infringe on preexisting patents.

"Instead, they would expect (with good reason) that Apple wouldn't provide technologies in its App Store that open its developers up to liability and/or would at least agree to defend them when a troll like Lodsys comes along," Samuels wrote. "We hope that going forward companies like Apple will do what's right and stand up for their developers and help teach the patent trolls a lesson."

Earlier this week, reports emerged that Apple is reportedly "actively investigating" Lodsys' claims, though it has not committed to defending the developers accused of infringement.


post #2 of 37
If Apple does get involved, it won't be for a while. They are too deliberate to just jump in willy-nilly or because of public opinion.
post #3 of 37
Yeah, like Apple's going to do anything because the EFF tells them they should?
EFF are attention whores in this matter; they can't realistically expect Apple to do anything they say given that they are usually on the other side of issues with respect to Apple.
post #4 of 37
Unfortunately, the EFF is usually on the right side. This matter included. When Apple offers in application purchasing to both its customers and developers, those customers and developers rightfully assume they are protected when utilizing those services. By the same token this patent troll is going after iOS developers, it could also go after people making in application purchases.

The only time I can think the EFF has actively been against Apple is when it argued to the Library of Congress jail breaking and unlocking one's own phone should be legal. As a happy T-Mobile iPhone using customer, I am certainly happy an organization like the EFF exists.

Further, I am uncertain why the EFF should be considered a media whore in this insistence. One of it's staff attorneys merely posted her opinion on the EFF's blog. It didn't contact any media outlets.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

Yeah, like Apple's going to do anything because the EFF tells them they should?
EFF are attention whores in this matter; they can't realistically expect Apple to do anything they say given that they are usually on the other side of issues with respect to Apple.
post #5 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post

If Apple does get involved, it won't be for a while. They are too deliberate to just jump in willy-nilly or because of public opinion.

They'll wait until they have an appropriate response to the developers and the lawyers, but they are forced to make a move because of public opinion. This can greatly affect the appeal of the developer program, something that Apple would not want tarnished because it is very valuable to them and iOS.
post #6 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Unfortunately, the EFF is usually on the right side.

Let's just say that we disagree on this point.
post #7 of 37
Maybe the EFF should defend developers against Lodsys patent threats.
post #8 of 37
Apple is already licensing the patent (implicitly validating it), so Apple should just make this go away by paying the 0.575% out of the30% they collect. It's pocket change in the big scheme of things.
post #9 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Unfortunately, the EFF is usually on the right side. This matter included. When Apple offers in application purchasing to both its customers and developers, those customers and developers rightfully assume they are protected when utilizing those services. By the same token this patent troll is going after iOS developers, it could also go after people making in application purchases.

The only time I can think the EFF has actively been against Apple is when it argued to the Library of Congress jail breaking and unlocking one's own phone should be legal. As a happy T-Mobile iPhone using customer, I am certainly happy an organization like the EFF exists.

Further, I am uncertain why the EFF should be considered a media whore in this insistence. One of it's staff attorneys merely posted her opinion on the EFF's blog. It didn't contact any media outlets.

While we seldom disagree, TBell, I will take issue with this. EFF has been as guilty of leveraging Apple's profile to draw attention to themselves as Greenpeace. EFF is routinely critical of Apple's protection of the intended user interface, with the same fervent vehemence of an ardent Android fan at an I/O love fest. I agree in principle with some of their policy suggestions, and am first in line to be openly critical of the current patent situation, but I am not at all impressed with their methods or their much-touted "integrity". I am immediately suspicious of their intent every single time they issue a public statement directed at Apple.

The key issue for me is WHY did they choose to issue the statement in the blog. While you may choose to assume it is essentially harmless, their past track record leads me to assume it is merely testing the response waters. If they get enough interest and response - they will weigh in further, deeper and more critically if Apple doesn't respond in exactly the way they desire. As they have done so many times in the past.
If you are going to insist on being an ass, at least demonstrate the intelligence to be a smart one
Reply
If you are going to insist on being an ass, at least demonstrate the intelligence to be a smart one
Reply
post #10 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by rhyde View Post

Eff- wtf?

Youre so unbelievable.
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
Dick Applebaum on whether the iPad is a personal computer: "BTW, I am posting this from my iPad pc while sitting on the throne... personal enough for you?"
Reply
post #11 of 37
They probably will if a developer actually gets sued. Currently, they have only been threatened with a lawsuit. That is typically the type of thing the EFF does do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patranus View Post

Maybe the EFF should defend developers against Lodsys patent threats.
post #12 of 37
You may be right that the EFF is seeking publicity. It might also be the case that the EFF has been contacted by developers seeking help who are frantic because Apple hasn't reacted yet. The developers are looking for answers as they need to know should they pay for a licensee, should they fight, or will Apple defend them?The EFF may just be trying to make a public statement to let its position be known to let developers know what its position is on the matter. I can see the EFF jumping in on the side of the developers if one is sued under the patent. I can also see the EFF counter suing Apple on behalf of a sued developer. Presumably, the position would be Apple should cover the cost of the license for developers as well as consumers or in the alternate defend the developers. You may already know, but for better or worst the EFF was in part was founded through funds provided by Apple's own Steve Wozniak.

I also don't necessarily agree with everything the EFF does. Nobody is perfect. Yet, on a whole the organization does a lot of good generally taking consumer friendly positions. Might the organization seek publicity? Sure, but that is a necessary evil. The organization relies largely on public contributions. It's clients generally can't pay the cost necessary to defend expensive IP related battles. If nobody has heard of you, it is hard to get public donations. I can only think of two instances when the EFF has actively engaged Apple in legal proceedings as opposed to merely making public statements. One was with the Library of Congress. The EFF won that battle, making it clear it is legal to jailbreak and unlock your phone without fear of being prosecuted under the DMCA. The other is when Apple was sending what I thought were bogus take down notices to small websites providing instructions for how to use Apple products for unintended purposes such as jail breaking. Not sure how that turned out.

As far as Green Peace is concerned, I think that group is more radical in its methods then the EFF. It undoubtedly promotes itself at Apple's expense all at time. Yet, Green Peace also is supported entirely by public donations. So, that perhaps is a necessary evil. It seems hard to entirely be opposed to an organization that simply wants products to be manufactured in a socially responsible manner.

I also am not sure you can argue with Green Peace's success with Apple. The group pressured Apple into outlining Apple's environmental polices. Steve didn't release that letter because he felt like it. There was a lot of public pressure generated through Green Peace. My only problem with Green Peace is it's methodology in rating manufacturing companies in terms of environmental impact was biased against Apple because it heavily downgraded Apple against companies like Dell strictly based on Apple not making public promises to reduce its environmental footprint. Turns out Apple was actually doing more privately then the companies making public promises yet it was being graded lower. Just about everything in Apple products are recyclable and made from friendly materials. They also use very little energy compared to some competitors' products. I guess it can be argued that it benefits the public to know what steps a company is taking to be socially responsible. That certainly is Bill Gates and Warren Buffets position when it comes to philanthropy. I think those two made a public statement recently that the super wealthy should publicly (as opposed to anonymously) commit to donating funds to social causes as to set an example for others.

As much as I like Apple, I also think Apple is kind of is an easy target for Green Peace with Al Gore on the Board and Apple's think different commercials.

The group that likes to pick on Apple seemingly largely for publicity that irks me is Consumer Reports.

Hope we are on the same side of the fence again in the near future. Meanwhile, Cheers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fecklesstechguy View Post

While we seldom disagree, TBell, I will take issue with this. EFF has been as guilty of leveraging Apple's profile to draw attention to themselves as Greenpeace. EFF is routinely critical of Apple's protection of the intended user interface, with the same fervent vehemence of an ardent Android fan at an I/O love fest. I agree in principle with some of their policy suggestions, and am first in line to be openly critical of the current patent situation, but I am not at all impressed with their methods or their much-touted "integrity". I am immediately suspicious of their intent every single time they issue a public statement directed at Apple.

The key issue for me is WHY did they choose to issue the statement in the blog. While you may choose to assume it is essentially harmless, their past track record leads me to assume it is merely testing the response waters. If they get enough interest and response - they will weigh in further, deeper and more critically if Apple doesn't respond in exactly the way they desire. As they have done so many times in the past.
post #13 of 37
Where was the EFF when Microsoft demanded licensing fees from HTC for using Android?

Where was the EFF when Google hasn't stepped in to defend Android providing companies who are being sued?
A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this...
Reply
A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this...
Reply
post #14 of 37
wrong link. . . sorry

Hill60, Google already stated they were standing behind HTC in Apple's suit against them.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2360917,00.asp
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #15 of 37
Apple, Google, Amazon and others should set up a patent pool and buy out patents that prey on their app ecosystems.
post #16 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

wrong link. . . sorry

Hill60, Google already stated they were standing behind HTC in Apple's suit against them.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2360917,00.asp

Where is Google standing behind other manufacturers such as Motorola after Microsoft sued them, again after licensing Android to HTC.

http://www.microsoft.com/Presspass/p...27MSHTCPR.mspx
A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this...
Reply
A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this webpage so it was reloaded.A problem occurred with this...
Reply
post #17 of 37
Microsoft hadn't actually sued HTC did they? But as for whether Google should or shouldn't have stepped in and advised against the licensing, I don't know enough about it. FWIW, Google also licenses many of Microsoft's "patents" for Android use.

There are also some industry watchers who think this was just as much about defending against Apple's suit.

EDIT: I think I'd seen this chart before, but it's a good graphic to show who's suing who.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology...patent-lawsuit
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
melior diabolus quem scies
Reply
post #18 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by hill60 View Post

Where was the EFF when Microsoft demanded licensing fees from HTC for using Android?

Where was the EFF when Google hasn't stepped in to defend Android providing companies who are being sued?

+1

Since the Barnes an Noble lawsuit everybody knows that Microsoft makes a lot of money on Android. Their licensing fees for their "patents" that are incorporated in Android are higher than their licensing fees for their own mobile OS Windows Phone 7.

Everybody that doesn't want to license the technology from them gets sued. Google did nothing there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy

Google already stated they were standing behind HTC in Apple's suit against them.
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2360917,00.asp

Yes that is because Apple told them not to use their patents. Google has a huge interest that their OS gets deployed so this would really stand in their way.
If Apple had just asked for money HTC probably would have paid.
post #19 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Microsoft hadn't actually sued HTC did they? But as for whether Google should or shouldn't have stepped in and advised against the licensing, I don't know enough about it. FWIW, Google also licenses many of Microsoft's "patents" for Android use.

There are also some industry watchers who think this was just as much about defending against Apple's suit.

No they haven't because HTC obviously just paid without complaining..
post #20 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Unfortunately, the EFF is usually on the right side. This matter included. When Apple offers in application purchasing to both its customers and developers, those customers and developers rightfully assume they are protected when utilizing those services. By the same token this patent troll is going after iOS developers, it could also go after people making in application purchases.

The only time I can think the EFF has actively been against Apple is when it argued to the Library of Congress jail breaking and unlocking one's own phone should be legal. As a happy T-Mobile iPhone using customer, I am certainly happy an organization like the EFF exists.

Further, I am uncertain why the EFF should be considered a media whore in this insistence. One of it's staff attorneys merely posted her opinion on the EFF's blog. It didn't contact any media outlets.

The EFF is unimportant in most things and should be ignored. However in this, the one lawyer is correct. I don't think anyone has to worry though. If Apple has any notion that this will affect their bottom line, I can imagine a whole floor of lawyers pouring out, but only after Apple has carefully considered every tiny part.
post #21 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

I also am not sure you can argue with Green Peace's success with Apple. The group pressured Apple into outlining Apple's environmental polices. Steve didn't release that letter because he felt like it

Nonsense. You're confusing correlation and causation. Moreover, when you make utterly silly assertions based on unknowable, unprovable motivations such as 'Steve didn't release that letter because he felt like it,' your post loses credibility.

Greenpeace and its lackeys can claim what they want for marketing or fundraising purposes, but Apple marches to its own tune.
post #22 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocNo42 View Post

If Apple does get involved, it won't be for a while. They are too deliberate to just jump in willy-nilly or because of public opinion.

The way Apple might look at this is that they're offering a service to developers to monetize their apps, and along comes patent troll attacking those developers for using that service. That should present a problem directly to Apple as it threatens part of the App Store ecosystem. In short, it's an indirect attack on Apple. I'm sure patent troll's lawyers are rubbing their hands together with glee; even if they lose the patent case, they get to bill their client for legal fees.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #23 of 37
deleted
post #24 of 37
I think that Apple believed that developers were covered by Apple's license. I expect the attorneys are going over the license now to see if they erred. Only after they've decided on a course of action will they make a more detailed statement. Apple hasn't had much time yet to review the license in detail.

I think Apple will eventually indemnify developers in this matter, if it comes to that, because it would hurt their ecosystem not to. It wouldn't surprise me if Apple sued these trolls. Alternatively, they may renegotiate the license.

And make no mistake about it, these guys are trolls. First they get Apple to pay, and now they're double-dipping. Perhaps it's legal (perhaps not), but definitely unethical (not that that matters to corporations).


Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Apple is already licensing the patent (implicitly validating it)

No, Apple purchasing a license isn't an implicit validation of the patent, anymore than buying auto insurance implies that you expect to get into an accident; it's merely an acknowledgement that an accident could happen. Apple probably determined it would be cheaper to license than fight it in court. They may be reevaluating that decision now.
post #25 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

Unfortunately, the EFF is usually on the right side. ....

Thanks for the laugh.
post #26 of 37
Must every organization or person be demonized by the Apple Apologist Army for having the incredible temerity to actually make a constructive suggestion to Steve Jobs.
Apple developers are pleading with Apple to do or say something on this topic. Silence on a controversy is not good. Apple does not have to commit to anything, simply say something!!
post #27 of 37
They should take their argument to Congress. The problem is with the Patent system. Duh!
post #28 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by bk212 View Post

Must every organization or person be demonized by the Apple Apologist Army for having the incredible temerity to actually make a constructive suggestion to Steve Jobs.
Apple developers are pleading with Apple to do or say something on this topic. Silence on a controversy is not good. Apple does not have to commit to anything, simply say something!!

The AAA s simply being realistic. What are you hoping will happen? That every platform that could get sued on this issue takes these Lodsys guys on individually? That Apple come up with some type of knee-jerk response?

There may be virtue to finding a collective action solution here, and to carefully thinking through the consequences of different courses of action.
post #29 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

The AAA s simply being realistic. What are you hoping will happen? That every platform that could get sued on this issue takes these Lodsys guys on individually? That Apple come up with some type of knee-jerk response?

There may be virtue to finding a collective action solution here, and to carefully thinking through the consequences of different courses of action.

I think Apple should definitely stand behind these developers, and vigorously defend them from this patent trolling, for this or any other feature that is directly supported by the iOS SDK and the use of which is encouraged or required by Apple. It's the right thing to do from both a business perspective and ethically.

But, there is also virtue in keeping your enemy unaware of your plans until you launch your attack, a virtue Apple understands very well.
post #30 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

Apple is already licensing the patent (implicitly validating it)

Based on what? The claims of a patent troll? It would be one thing if Apple licensed it explicity, but this has the smell of something that was bundled in with another bundle of cross-licensed patents.

So Apple could have licensed it without going out of their way to. But it sounds impressive to pitch it as if Apple went out of their way to explicitly license it because it had value!

Quote:
so Apple should just make this go away by paying the 0.575% out of the30% they collect. It's pocket change in the big scheme of things.

So because it's "pocket change", and because Apple makes this overly onerous 30% that people who have never run a business or have any concept of overhead think is some windfall, they should just cover it?

Unbelievable
post #31 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by fecklesstechguy View Post

If they get enough interest and response - they will weigh in further, deeper and more critically if Apple doesn't respond in exactly the way they desire. As they have done so many times in the past.

I think they have moved past Greenpeace and are moving into People Eating Tastey Animals territory

Hopefully they won't venture into Westboro territory (those idiots are neither baptists nor a church).
post #32 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

The way Apple might look at this is that they're offering a service to developers to monetize their apps, and along comes patent troll attacking those developers for using that service. That should present a problem directly to Apple as it threatens part of the App Store ecosystem.

Perhaps, perhaps not. One thing is sure, Apple will respond when they are good and ready.

If it is seen as a direct threat to the App store ecosystem, I think it's a safe assumption Apple will get involved. Superficially it looks like a pretty flimsy patent too. The Macalops take on it was pretty spot on.
post #33 of 37
deleted
post #34 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

The suggestion that Apple runs around randomly signing license agreements without reading them isn't exactly flattering to them.

Reading them is one thing. Interpreting them the same way as the author is another. I suspect Apple's take on the patent differs from Lodsys's. Apple probably expected that their license covered their developers too. That Lodsys has a different view explains why Apple is now "studying the issue." Trolls!
post #35 of 37
So you think Apple released that letter out of the blue? Come on. Green Peace came out with its bogus report. New organizations jumped on the story. The story keep up for an extended period of time with no sign of slowing down. When Apple faces enough long term pressure, it acts. In my opinion, it seems hard not to credit Green Peace as the catalyst.

As far as credibility goes, I doubt anybody on this site has credibility. That would require us to be sitting in meetings with Steve Jobs. All most of us have is opinion. Last I checked, you don't need to prove an opinion.

It is also worth pointing out this Site is devoted to generally unprovable rumors. Yet, here we both are posting on it.

Cheers

Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Nonsense. You're confusing correlation and causation. Moreover, when you make utterly silly assertions based on unknowable, unprovable motivations such as 'Steve didn't release that letter because he felt like it,' your post loses credibility.

Greenpeace and its lackeys can claim what they want for marketing or fundraising purposes, but Apple marches to its own tune.
post #36 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacRulez View Post

The suggestion that Apple runs around randomly signing license agreements without reading them isn't exactly flattering to them.

Don't be ridiculous - I neither said nor implied such a thing.

Apple owns thousands of patents. Some they filed, some they licensed, some they acquired. In the acquisitions, sometimes there are lots of patents bundled in when they are targeting just one or two key patents.

Now that they have responded, it's clear that they explicitly licensed this one (which is surprising because it seems like such a weak patent - but that's another topic). But for companies like Apple that have huge patent portfolio's, I wouldn't be surprised if the more obscure ones would take a little time to locate and research.

Not all patents are created equal or acquired (directly or indirectly) for the same reasons or in the same ways....
post #37 of 37
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicj View Post

Because developers have paid Apple $100.00 for the rights to develop against their API it's reasonable to expect that you can actually use the damn thing.

If there is a real dependency then I agree. And in this case there is a clear extension of Apple's license to the developers, hence them stepping in. But to just blanket assume they should immediately jump in and get involved is naive and unrealistic. Hence the EFF being (rightly) called out for attention whoring before the facts were in.

Quote:
But then again, it's reasonable assume Apple wouldn't let developers steal your private data and not tell you about it

Good grief, are you an aid to Senator Franken or something? Talk about being all over the place...

Quote:
or that you could work in a factory that makes Apple products and not get blown up, but those things didn't work out either.

Nice red herring but I'll still bite - Industrial accidents happen and Foxconn manufacturers for more than just Apple.

Funny how people who bitch about the "Apple Tax" also want to be critical of overseas production of product. We don't manufacture lots of things in the US for lots of reasons - many of which directly affect costs that everyone loves to complain about. It's just as stupid as the complaining about WalMart - but they grew as large and fast as they did for a reason (i.e. may of the complainers ended up shopping there!)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPhone
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPhone › EFF says Apple should support iOS developers in Lodsys patent threats