Apple will be given limited rights to intervene on behalf of developers sued by patent troll Lodsys, a source has informed Florian Mueller of Foss Patents.
Today, finally, Apple’s motion was granted in part: “Apple is permitted to intervene in this suit, but such intervention is limited to the issues of patent exhaustion and licensing.”
Judge Rodney Gilstrap concluded that Apple was entitled to intervene, and in any event, a permissive intervention (one that the court can allow in its discretion) was also an option.
Back in August, Apple insisted on intervention rights in the case, even after a rebuff attempt from Lodsys should be a welcome one for many small developers that are waiting with bated breath the outcome of this proceeding.
In the meantime, the original Judge on the case resigned and another one was appointed. Smaller defendants in the case, like The Iconfactory, settled the dispute with Lodsys privately. Google also filed a request to intervene back in August of 2011, so hopefully that will go through as well and Lodsys will have its hands full.
This whole saga began when Lodsys, now thought to be a shell company for huge patent firm Intellectual Ventures, began sending out letters to developers informing them that their use of in-app purchasing infringed on Lodsys’ patents. Lodsys then explained its stance and proceeded to go on to sue most of the developers that had received letters, along with many more. Apple then made a public statement saying that its developers already were licensed for in-app purchasing because Apple themselves were licensed. Lodsys responded negatively, saying that developers were not Apple’s customers after all and that they would need to negotiate licensing deals separately.
Needless to say, this has been quite the ordeal, especially for many developers who created iPhone apps solo or with small teams, and have been feeling that their only recourse was to bow to Lodsys’ demands and license the patent separately.