I’m one of the developers that is affected by the Lodsys patent infringement claim. I’m writing not to beg for your support, but rather to give you a better idea of how this legal action affects the average iOS developer.
We’re a small company. We have 12 employees that have created 14 products for Mac and iOS. We have been incorporated in the state of North Carolina since 1999. We won an Apple Design Award in 2008.
We’ve been doing product development long enough to know that legal expenses are just a part of doing business. But as we both know, the costs of patent litigation can be staggering. As a small company, we don’t have the resources to defend ourselves, so that leaves us with one option: to pay a licensing fee.
And that worries us and every other iOS developer we know.
In and of itself, paying half of a percent of our App Store sales to Lodsys isn’t going to put us out of business. The fear we have is that this is the first step on a very slippery slope.
It’s well known that the top titles in the App Store can earn tens of thousands of dollars per day. There are many predators with dubious patents who see dollar signs when they look at the flock of iOS developers.
What these predators don’t realize is that for every developer who’s earning millions, there are many thousands who are earning much less. This backbone of the iOS ecosystem is doing well with work we love, but that is very much at risk with increased legal costs. We wonder what happens when these predators discover that the earnings from these apps are much lower than they expect. Will the licensing fees increase as a result? Will our next infringement be 5%, 10%, or more?
Of course, this is also a slippery slope for Apple. Taking on a legal burden for an entire platform is not something we would want to do, especially when the root of the problem is a screwed up patent system.
We love developing products for iOS and the Mac, but this legal mess has already started killing that enthusiasm. Apple has revolutionized the distribution of software via the App Store and that has been a great boon for smaller developers. It makes us furious that these greedy predators can put all of that at risk with patents.
Thanks for your time,