Apple is hoping to corner the app market with a USPTO patent filing published Thursday. A submission for "In Application Purchasing" appears to cover the basics of what most app stores use today, letting users buy content from within an app from an outside content store as though it were from within the app. Some variants can put up an overlay to bring up the purchase, and the app itself could be an HTML5 web app, not just native.
Some of the patent appears to describe a specific process. As such, it's not necessarily a universal patent. although many of the top level features are familiar.
The patent was originally filed on April 26 of last year.
If upheld, the patent could create trouble for Google, Microsoft, and RIM, all of whom have recently or will be implementing in-app purchasing. Some of the patent claims might not be upheld, but others could be broad enough to cover common technology.
A granted patent could theoretically complicate Lodsys' patent lawsuit campaign. Lodsys alleges that it already has patents covering in-app purchasing and could run into a conflict with Apple over what amounts to variations on similar techniques.