Not happy with merely going after app developers who offer in-app purchase in their iOS apps, Lodsys is now sending out infringement letters to developers who cross-promote apps. Developer EpicForce received an infringement notice from Lodsys over its iFighter 1945 game, which offers users the option of purchasing another EpicForce game, Super Laser: The Alien Fighter, from within the app.
Many App Store developers engage in this kind of cross-promotion within their apps, including big names like PopCap (recently acquired by even bigger name EA). Lodsys is now asserting that its patent on in-app purchases applies to these cross-promotions as well, which could indicate that this "patent litigation factory" is looking at expanding the scope of its lawsuits against app developers.
EpicForce emailed Lodsys to attempt to dissuade the company from its lawsuit, but Lodsys is adamant that app cross-promotion falls under the rubric of its patent. Lodsys's full letter to EpicForce is printed below.
Apple has recently made motions to intervene in the dispute, and for the sake of the App Store's livelihood, let's hope the intervention is successful. Lodsys may assert that it's merely trying to "protect its rights," but what it's really doing is threatening the entire development environment for iOS devices.
--- Lodsys' letter ---
My name is Harry Snodgrass and I have been assigned your account. I would like to respond to your email dated July 4th, 2011 attached below. First let me state that Lodsys is interested in a positive dialog with the goal of a prompt and reasonable resolution to this matter.
In your email you refer to the following - "directed to systems and methods for providers of products and/or services to interact with users of those products and services to gather information from those users and transmit that information to the provider".
The title of a patent, such as stated above, is a general description of the area the patent addresses to allow for more efficient searching of patents and their general subject matter. The patent we sent a claim chart for has a claim that is directed at eliciting from a user, through a user interface presented by the product or service, a perception of the user of the product or service.
The patent specification sets forth many different types of perceptions and how they may be elicited. One of those is through interactive services and transactions. Specifically, a perception that can be elicited is the desire of the user to indicate their desire to purchase something that is related to or complementary to the product or service.
In this specific case, the perception being elicited through the offer to the user to buy "Super Laser: The Alien Fighter" through the interface presented by iFighter 1945 is, "Do you find our games valuable enough to buy another game we think you are interested in from us?". The elicited perception is returned to you (you are the vendor of both iFighter and Super Laser) through the revenue you receive from the app store for the purchase of the new game.
I trust that this has clarified the matter and that you now understand that we are not mistaken. We would like to enter into meaningful discussion with you about an appropriate license that is scaled to your use of our patented invention. We look forward to doing that as soon as possible.