Apple's silence means developers should appease Lodsys says IP activist Florian Mueller

Be a coward who stays in business

Apple's silence means developers should appease Lodsys says IP activist Florian Mueller
While few companies have been direct enough to offer open advice for developers affected by Lodsys' IAP patent claim, the general atmosphere from developers has been one of outrage.

Studios have been encouraged to stand their corner and fight, but according to IP activist Florian Mueller, such a stance would be especially unwise.

The safer, more realistic, move is to show a willingness to work with Lodsys to look for a solution.

Playing the patent game

Mueller makes the claim on his blog Foss Patents, which also recently played host to a widescale FAQ post on the issue.

According to his calculations, the first developers targeted by Lodsys will soon be reaching the end of the 21 day window allotted for an initial response. Given the financial limitations of the majority of studios involved, letting this deadline slip past is not an option, he argues.

Developers looking to avoid their businesses being washed down the plughole need to communicate with Lodsys directly, if only to ascertain just what the company is after.

"You can't convince Lodsys that what they're doing is immoral," says Mueller in the entry.

"They want to make millions of dollars and you can't talk them out of that. It's also possible that they had to pay (or guarantee) so much for those patents that they don't have a choice anymore.

"So don't insult them. Don't criticise them. Don't start a debate: if you want to take political action, do it in the appropriate fora but not in your correspondence with Lodsys."

Keep calm and carry on

Mueller doesn't believe such action necessarily has to lead to any agreement being signed, but rather, it's important not to anger the firm, given any attempt to prove their patent claim redundant could take several years to carry out.

"Just ask for the terms and conditions of their license agreement," he adds.

"Be non-judgemental on the question of whether or not there is an infringement. Lots of patents get licensed all the time just to avoid litigation."

Those who are advising developers to fight, Mueller attests, are being unrealistic, and risk running many studios into the ground.

"You as a little independent guy can't do what's best for the app dev community at large," he concludes.

"Be a coward who stays in business, not a hero who goes bankrupt."

Changing tact

Mueller's current position is vastly different to the one he offered in his previous blog post, where he warned that accepting the terms of the patent could result in other companies threatening legal action.

"Once Lodsys and others know that you paid for this patent, you're even more likely to be contacted by Lodsys and other patent holders," he stated.

"Third parties can find out if your deal with Lodsys is announced in any way, or they can figure if they know that you were contacted and at some point they see that you still have the in-app upgrade button but weren't sued."

[source: Foss Patents]

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.