Here’s a story that will be causing some anxiety at Apple this morning: Cult of Mac reports that iPhone app developers are getting patent-related legal threats just for using Apple’s in-app purchasing system in their apps.As in, the supposed patent troll is going after the small developers themselves for using Apple’s system, and not just going after Apple.
Now we’ll have to see if Apple throws its legal support behind its developers, or whether it throws them under the bus.
This is the sort of legal hell that most small developers can’t afford to deal with, so it will be interesting to see how much Apple can support them, and whether Apple does support them.
“Just got hit by very worrying threat of patent infringement lawsuit for using in-app purchase in PCalc Lite. Legal docs arrived via fedex,” developer James Thomson of TLA Systems tweeted several hours ago. (PCalc is a calculator app for iOS.)
“To be clear, I haven’t been sued yet – I’ve been told that I am infringing their patent, they want me to licence it, and I have 21 days,” Thomson tweeted later.
Thomson isn’t disclosing who the threat came from, and is waiting to hear back from Apple legal before disclosing more details.
We’ve reached out to Apple to see if it plans to offer legal assistance to these developers. Apple receives 30% of the revenue from in-app purchases in iPhone apps.