Mark Small

Apple hits iPhone patent troll with a 'cease and desist'

May 23, 2011: 4:28 PM ET

The company that has been trying to extract tribute from app developers had better lawyer-up

In a contest between Apple's (AAPL) legal staff and Lodsys, the tiny Texas-based holding company that has been ordering iPhone developers to pay for technology Apple had already licensed, we'd put our money on team Cupertino.

"Apple is undisputedly licensed to these patents and the App Makers are protected by that license," wrote Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell in a sharply-worded letter to Lodsys CEO Mark Small.

"Thus the technology that is targeted in your notice letters is technology that Apple is expressly licensed under the Lodsys patents to offer to Apple's App Makers," Sewell continues, apparently believing that when talking to lawyers you can't repeat yourself too often. "Because Apple is licensed under Lodsys' patents to offer such technology to its App Makers, the App Makers are entitled to use this technology free from any infringement claims by Lodsys."

Citing the doctrines of "patent exhaustion" and "first sale" and quoting a 2008 Supreme Court decision, Sewell rejects Lodsys' claim that it is entitled to collect again and again on the same patents. He also requests that Small cease making "false assertions" and "cease and desist from any further threats to Apple's customers and partners."

Let's see if that does the trick. FOSS Patents' Florian Mueller has his doubts.

For a backgrounder on the case, see here. The full text of Sewell's letter is pasted below, courtesy of Macworld.

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