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App store developers sued over patent for ‘upgrade’ button

In a rather bizarre series of events, many iOS developers have been sent warnings over violation of a patent, related to in app purchases.

Lodsys, a patent licensing firm say that they own the patent to ‘the upgrade button’, a simple button to let users upgrade from a free or lite version to the full, paid for version of an application. This feature is in many applications and industry insiders are stunned to hear that someone is claiming a legal right to the feature.

Lodsys are asking developers to purchase a license to use this feature or they face legal action within 21 days if they don’t. It isn’t quite as clear cut as that however as Apple’s iOS developer agreement stops registered developers from entering into a binding contract or agreement with another company – without their permission.

Apple will probably fight these claims as their whole store ecosystem would be weakened by Lodsys. Florian Mueller, a patent expert has spoken to the Guardian newspaper and said “I’m really afraid we’re now going to see more patent lawsuits against application developers. Hopefully this won’t ever affect little guys who can’t afford to defend themselves, but if there’s a major company behind an app, or if an app is commercially very successful, it can happen and it has now apparently started to happen.”

This isn’t the first time that Lodsys have been involved in high profile patent infringement lawsuits.

KitGuru says: Have Lodsys a legitimate claim for this? Will Apple stop it?

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