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Apple Files Patent For In-App Purchases

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 42 comments

So far, Lodsys has claimed all rights to in app purchases and Apple has been paying license fees since it enabled the feature with iOS 3. There has been no news on the development of the discussions between Lodsys and Apple since the end of May and it appears that mobile developers - not just iOS developers - and Lodsys are in a wait-and-see position for now.

However, yesterday a patent filing surfaced that could introduce a new dynamic to the case. Apple apparently filed a patent for in-app purchases on April 26, 2010, almost one year after the release of iOS 3, which was introduced with the iPhone 3GS in June of 2009. Lodsys' claims are primarily based on a patent entitled "Customer-based product design module", which was filed in 2006 and granted in November 2009. Lodsys' document describes an idea that enables future interaction with a customer or user within a service or application, which may include a "purchase order".

When Apple filed its "In Application Purchasing" document, it was certainly aware of Lodsys' patent and we can most certainly expect action from one side or the other. Apple's in app purchases explicitly describe the offer of a product purchase, a translucent purchase interface, a partially transparent purchase interface, an application server targeting the app to a user, and advertisement that could represent an application, as well as an opportunity to purchase a product directly from a separate store. Apple's pitch is an idea that would help application developers to actually sell their product, even if they have to offer it initially free of charge to attract users: "Consumers can be extremely fickle and accordingly many different things can cause a consumer to walk away from a potential purchase. Each step in the purchasing process presents a new opportunity for the consumer to decide not to purchase a product," the patent application reads.

As a solution, Apple offers a "technology [that] provides a purchasing interface within an application that allows users to purchase a product from another source without leaving the application. The application offers a product for purchase, and a user, desiring to purchase the product can provide an input effective to cause a purchasing interface to be displayed. While the purchasing interface, or information presented therein, comes from the product source, which is different than the application source, it is presented in such a fashion that gives the impression to the user that they are purchasing the product directly from the application."

The idea is, in general, very similar to the Lodsys patent, however, it is much more specific. If Apple was granted the rights to the patent, both sides could easily challenge each other's patents. The question, of course, would also be what Apple would do, if this patent is granted, about Android, Windows Phone and Blackberry developers? Most likely nothing, as there are countless iOS developers who offer their apps for multiple platforms and Apple may not have an interest in upsetting them.

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Top Comments
  • 19 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2011 11:11 AM
    the ultimate win for apple, lets patent purchasing.....
  • 19 Hide
    Scanlia , October 8, 2011 11:24 AM
    Apple: GET A LIFE.
  • 19 Hide
    onehitxzibit , October 8, 2011 11:59 AM
    Ban patents already! This thing is completely out of control.
Other Comments
  • 19 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2011 11:11 AM
    the ultimate win for apple, lets patent purchasing.....
  • 19 Hide
    Scanlia , October 8, 2011 11:24 AM
    Apple: GET A LIFE.
  • 10 Hide
    darkchazz , October 8, 2011 11:43 AM
    What the f***** :S
  • 19 Hide
    onehitxzibit , October 8, 2011 11:59 AM
    Ban patents already! This thing is completely out of control.
  • 8 Hide
    randomizer , October 8, 2011 12:07 PM
    Looks like they're patenting impulse buying.
  • -5 Hide
    viper666 , October 8, 2011 12:13 PM
    inb4 appleception
  • 4 Hide
    billybobser , October 8, 2011 12:25 PM
    wait wait,

    what would a trial of an app be, then paying for the full version inside the app be?

    Do they also want to patent money?

    And I'm pretty sure scammers had previously invented applications that purchase things since the beginning of the internet.
  • 7 Hide
    mortsmi7 , October 8, 2011 12:32 PM
    Do they even know what an application technically is and how many applications have been doing this already for many years? I guess common sense isn't wireless (for iphone users).

    :) 
  • 1 Hide
    acadia11 , October 8, 2011 12:45 PM
    Apple should definitely not get this patent I created such an application in 2007 which allowed in app purchases, this is way to general!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 18 Hide
    drwho1 , October 8, 2011 12:48 PM
    In other news: Apple has issue a patent for the movement a hand does while taking money out of your wallet, this patent includes when taking your credit/debit card as well.

    The patent will also include when a person or robot is paying using a touch screen, a mouse and/or a keyboard.

    In other related news, I have patented the middle finger "gesture" towards Apple(S).
  • 14 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2011 2:40 PM
    This is why you don't see small startups turning into the next Apple, MS, or IBM anymore. Companies are allowed to "own" these trivial, obvious "innovations" for 20 years, and then sue or buyout any newcomers before they could ever make it big.

    A wise man said "Before Regan took office, companies had an equal obligation to their shareholders, their employees, and their customers. Now, it's only about the shareholders." You can thank Wall Street, the lobbyists, and Republican buzzwords like "free trade" and "deregulation" for the new corporate feudalism we live in today.
  • 4 Hide
    Chapman7 , October 8, 2011 3:33 PM
    onehitxzibit couldnt have said it better. This is completely out of control and its going to (if not already has) prevent companies from releasing better tech for us consumers.
  • 6 Hide
    wingartz , October 8, 2011 4:22 PM
    yo dawg i'll patent a patent law so you can patent while you patent
  • 1 Hide
    drwho1 , October 8, 2011 4:29 PM
    Wonder why Apple has not patented the frase "Byte Me" ...
  • -8 Hide
    jwcalla , October 8, 2011 5:39 PM
    Lord_LibbyThis is why you don't see small startups turning into the next Apple, MS, or IBM anymore. Companies are allowed to "own" these trivial, obvious "innovations" for 20 years, and then sue or buyout any newcomers before they could ever make it big.

    A wise man said "Before Regan took office, companies had an equal obligation to their shareholders, their employees, and their customers. Now, it's only about the shareholders." You can thank Wall Street, the lobbyists, and Republican buzzwords like "free trade" and "deregulation" for the new corporate feudalism we live in today.


    Right... because start-ups like Google and Facebook never went anywhere. It was definitely much better in the Rockefeller days. And what does this have to do with Ronald Reagan? The article is about Apple here. Apple and Apple fans have their own political inclinations and go off and do their own things.
  • 9 Hide
    maddad , October 8, 2011 5:53 PM
    I will say this first; before bashing Apple, bash the original patent that was issued. Second; though some of you younger folks might not remember" the term "share ware" used this long, long ago. No one should be able to patent "a way to purchase". Amazon has a "software" application running its store front. I purchase items via this application on Amazon each time I order from them. Same for every online merchant. Void the original patent, and then don't be stupid enough to issue a patent on purchasing in the future. If VISA came first can they sue MASTERCARD for allowing online purchases via their credit card? "Oops sorry MC a lawsuit maybe coming! Scratch the wallstreet protest. Protest the US patent office!
  • -9 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2011 6:15 PM
    @ Lord_Libby: Of course an idiot liberal who has no concept of what drives business and innovation would blame Republicans for silly patent filings. You're also plain wrong. Apple, MS, IBM had there major growth period under Regan. Since then, companies have emerged to compete like: HTC founded in 1997, Google founded in 1996 Facebook, twitter etc.!!! They contradict your poor attempt to make it seem like opportunity doesn’t exist for up & coming business.
    Too many companies are engaged in these stupid patent practices because the government has not reformed a stupid patent system in over 50 years, both parties get credit for that failure. But bad patent laws have nothing to do with Wall Street, lobbyist, free trade, regulations etc. so if you’re going to rant, at least make it relevant .
  • 6 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2011 7:10 PM
    drwho1Wonder why Apple has not patented the frase "Byte Me" ...


    I think that'd be a copyright, but what do i know?

    I think Tom's should create a new section on the homepage specifically for "patent" articles. There's enough of them daily to warrant it.

    This article, like many of the patent articles, is just depressing. We won't ever see a Presidential Candidate use Patent Reform as part of their campaign unfortunately. Too many sheep just don't care about anything except immediate gratification.
  • 3 Hide
    fyasko , October 8, 2011 7:15 PM
    i'm going to patent taking a s*** while standing up...
  • 0 Hide
    lp231 , October 8, 2011 7:21 PM
    drwho1In other news: Apple has issue a patent for the movement a hand does while taking money out of your wallet, this patent includes when taking your credit/debit card as well.The patent will also include when a person or robot is paying using a touch screen, a mouse and/or a keyboard.In other related news, I have patented the middle finger "gesture" towards Apple(S).


    I have patent the art of "breaking wind". :p 
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