We haven't heard much from the legal battles between patent troll Lodsys and the developer community, but unfortunately that doesn't mean Lodsys has shriveled up and vanished. Ars Technica has interviewed iOS developer Mike Lee, who founded the Appsterdam Legal Defense Team to fight Lodsys's shaking down of developers, and it looks like the battle will rage on well into 2012.
Lodsys has gained a well-deserved reputation for patent trolling this year. Despite Apple licensing the company's in-app purchasing patents and allowing third-party developers to use Apple's own in-app purchasing APIs in their apps, Lodsys has decided to go after several developers using those APIs in an attempt to shake them down for licensing fees, too. Smaller third-party developers lack the legal resources of a huge corporation like Apple, so Lodsys probably counted on developers simply rolling over and handing over their lunch money without a fight.
Mike Lee wasn't prepared to do that, and he's encouraged developers to band together to fight Lodsys. "There is nothing you can do to prevent yourself from being targeted, regardless of platform," Lee told Ars Technica, "and regardless of how careful you are, because this is not patent infringement, it is simple extortion, and it is worldwide."
Apple has made some initial steps to intervene in the dispute between Lodsys and iOS developers, but it's been several months since we've heard anything from that front. Apple has insisted that since it's already paid the licensing fees for Lodsys's intellectual property and developers are simply using its own in-app purchasing APIs, developers shouldn't have to pay licensing fees as well. It seems like common sense, but Lodsys disagrees; if awarded damages in its suit against developers, the implications for the App Store and the software development landscape at large could be quite dire.
Appsterdam hasn't been sitting on its hands this whole time; the team has been actively researching how best to fight Lodsys since August, and it will continue on into next year. For the sake of not just Apple's developer community, but all software developers on all platforms, I hope they're successful.