So Lodsys made good on its threat. This really isn’t surprising. They sent the demand letter and now they’ve filed suit.
Lawsuits are filed every day. Crooks sue homeowners for tripping over the sprinkler when breaking in. Crazy stuff happens. All you need to file a lawsuit is a few pieces of paper and the filing fee. The trick, as Lodsys will discover, is proving your case.
I view these lawsuits as a crossroads for Apple. They could parachute in and protect their developers or they could abandon them as they enter the meat grinder that is patent litigation.
It seems to me that there really is only one choice for Apple, to step in and defend. There are a lot of reasons for this starting with the most important, it is in Apple’s own best interest. If Apple lets developers get sued for using Apple’s API’s, developers are going to to go elsewhere. Gold rush or not, nobody wants to get sued. While I’m sure the developer agreement has some draconian terms that say Apple has no responsibility, I don’t think Apple is going to leave these developers hanging out this way.
While the cost of patent litigation is truly daunting, Apple has the money and is already well lawyered-up. None of these defendants are in a position to defend themselves as well as Apple could.
Finally, stepping in is a huge win for Apple on the public relations front. Developers will see that and the iOS will benefit. If Apple were to take the other route and and leave the developers on their own to deal with this litigation, the exact opposite would happen.
As I’ve said before, I don’t possess a lick of knowledge about how to run a patent case but I have seen first hand the way litigation kills small companies. I suspect that in the next 30 days, the lid will come off and we will find out how far Apple is willing to go for its developers. For everyone’s sake (including Apple) I hope it is a long way.
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