updated 08:00 am EDT, Fri May 27, 2011
Lodsys aims at Android while Google silent
Developers have reported that patent holding firm Lodsys is also targeting Android apps. Those who've used the new Android in-app purchasing have been sent the same letters claiming that they infringe on patents. As with the iOS cases, the notices are focusing on smaller developers that would be less likely to have a chance of fighting back.
"We are obviously a small shop and are not financially capable of defending ourselves over... litigation," one developer wrote.
The attempts may not be any more successful than with iOS developers. Apple sent an ultimatum to Lodsys asserting that its existing license for the patent claims already covered all developers. Google has a similar license for the Lodsys patent and could also assert its ownership. It so far has remained silent but is likely to respond as it could face a chilling effect, both from developers refusing to use certain features and from other tenuous patent claims being made if companies like Lodsys feel they can double-charge on patents without reprisals.
Regardless, Google doesn't have the strongest record of shielding partners from challenges to Android-related patents. Microsoft has sued Motorola, Barnes & Noble, and others for profiting from patents that relate to Google's OS but haven't received any direct support from Google. These and other lawsuits may be difficult to defend as Google doesn't profit directly from Android and can't normally be targeted, but it also hasn't given public support to partners.