We figured that Apple was about to dive right into the middle of the battle between Lodsys and a handful of iOS developers — and it looks like we were right.
The story so far: Lodsys claims that a bunch of iOS developers are infringing on their patents, and sends out a bunch of angry legal threats. Apple responds by pointing out that they’ve got patent agreements with Lodsys, and that covers anyone working on iOS. Lodsys turns around and turns their legal threats into big-boy lawsuits.
Realizing that this may very well send an army of patent trolls attacking iOS developers for every little thing, Apple has made their first move to nip it in the bud: they’ve filed a motion to “intervene” in the case.
An “intervention” in a court case is exactly what it sounds like: a means for a non-party (that is, someone outside of the one suing and the one being sued) to get involved without the permission of the original parties. It’s usually reserved for cases wherein the judgement might affect non-parties — and in this case, the judgement would absolutely affect Apple, as well as many developers on Apple’s iOS platform.
If Apple is granted the right to intervene (which they likely will be, given the circumstances) and can prove that their licensing with Lodsys covers third-party uses as they’ve suggested, this battle is pretty much over. As the guys over at AppleInsider have pointed out, all of the developers being sued here are inherently under NDA with Apple (because of their developer agreements), so they’re not able to comment on the case or reveal things like whether or not Apple is fronting their legal costs.