App Developers Pulling Their Apps From US App Store Fearing Lawsuits

BY Rounak Jain

Published 17 Jul 2011

App Store

The legal tussle between App developers and patent trolls doesn’t seem to end. The newest addition to the list of patent trolls is Kootol, an India based company, which has sent legal notices to a number of companies including App development firm Iconfactory – developer of Twitterrific – a popular Twitter app. Kotool software claims they infringe on a US patent for Twitter style real time feeds.

Even if App developers are not infringing on these patents, it is very difficult for them fight a case in court and pay fees for a lawyer. So unless a big company with loads of cash like Apple backs them up, they have no choice but to spit out the money, hungry patent trolls demand.

The good news till now for developers outside US is that these lawsuits have remained confined to the United States. As a precautionary measure to avoid any legal issues with firms like Lodsys, independent developers in Europe are pulling their apps from the US App Store as well as the Android Market.

Simon Maddox is one such developer who removed all his apps from the US App Store and Android Market. He doesn’t loose out on much since most of his revenue comes from UK.

Shaun Austin, another UK based developer tweeted “selling software in the US has already reached the non-viable tipping point”. Removing apps from the US store is only a temporary solution for European app developers, since it won’t take long for these lawsuits to reach European shores. Kotool Software has already filed for the realtime feeds patent in Europe, Canada and India.

This is just a few people echoing sentiments of an entire community including not just developers but even users, who see patents not protecting but in fact killing innovation. Legal notices and lawsuits weren’t all that popular in the age of desktop apps, but with the goldmine that mobile applications are, we see firms that do absolutely nothing jump into the scene to get a share of the pie.

Taking advantage of the ambiguous language of the patent, we see firms claiming infringement for something as ridiculous as a “Get full version” link within the app.

The only solution seems to be software giants like Apple, Google and Microsoft stepping up to protecting their developers with their big bucks. We have already seen Apple taking a stance against Lodsys, but a lot of these companies including Apple are busy fighting their own patent wars.

Independent developers have released some of the top selling apps and games, killing such innovation is bad for the entire community.

What’s your take on the whole situation?  Shout out in the comments section.

[via Guardian]