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Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 09:05 am PT (12:05 pm ET)

iOS apps with in-app purchasing being approved by Apple again [u]

Following a series of legal threats by patent holder Lodsys, Apple has temporarily suspended approval of at least some iOS applications that utilize the in-app purchasing feature [updated].

Update: Though in-app purchases were problematic for some developers for a week now, the issues in the system have reportedly been addressed, suggesting that any holdup was not related to the patent infringement suit.

News that App Store approvals from Apple were frozen was reported Wednesday by TUAW. It's was not known whether the suspension was related to legal threats that were recently sent by Lodsys to a number of iOS developers, or if it is a separate technical issue.

"As a matter of policy, Apple requires developers to test in-app purchases (IAP) with a test user account before the application in question can be approved," Victor Agreda, Jr., wrote. "Unfortunately, this test account has been offline for a week now with no word as to why."

The downtime associated with the App Store led to speculation that Apple suspended approval of new and updated applications that utilize in-app purchases. Apple has yet to respond to the legal threats toward iOS developers by patent holder Lodsys, but a report from earlier this week claimed that the iPhone maker's legal department is "actively investigating" the matter.

Last week, iOS developers first began receiving letters from Lodsys, accusing them of patent infringement for utilizing Apple's own in-app purchasing system for iOS software. Apple controls all transactions made through the App Store and native software for the iPhone and iPad, and takes a 30 percent cut.

In-App Purchases


In public comments on the situation, Lodsys revealed that Apple has obtained a license related to in-app purchases. But Lodsys believes that Apple's agreement does not extend to individual developers that create software for iOS devices.

Lodsys seeks 0.575 percent of U.S. revenue covering the period of the notice letter to the expiration of the patent, plus applicable usage. The company noted that would amount to $5,750 per year for an application that makes $1 million in annual sales.

No lawsuit has been filed, though developers were given 21 days by Lodsys to license the technology related to in-app purchases. The legal threats cite U.S. Patent No. 7222078, entitled "Methods and Systems for Gathering Information from Units of a Commodity Across a Network."