back to article Apple pilfers rips off student's rejected iPhone app

Apple is famous for going to absurd lengths to enforce its patents and trademarks. It recently sued Amazon for calling its app store Appstore. And it has publicly lectured competitors to “create their own original technology, not steal ours”. But the company isn't always as fastidious about respecting the ideas of others. …

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  1. Mark 65 Silver badge

    IANAL

    But I would have thought a clear cut case of breach of copyright has taken place. Take them to court and force them to pay or get the service blocked in the EU. Wankers like this need to learn a lesson.

    1. mraak
      Big Brother

      Courts

      Unfortunately the entire court system is invented only to protect the power. Apple would counter sue this guy for something for so long, the guy would bleed all the funds away, probably destroying his career as well.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        @Courts

        He needs to stand up for what he believes and for what is right rather than cynically prejudge the outcome and give in. He has little to lose and very much to gain; Apple's behaviour is characteristically appalling.

      2. Stephen Rodda

        PhEU

        This might be the case in the US. However, breach of copyright in the EU is a criminal offence. Just tip off plod and they do the rest.

        Isn't that nice?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Copyright of what?

      Did Apple pirate the Wifi Sync binary? No

      Did Apple copy the source code of Wifi Sync? Probably not, since the developer didn't send it to them

      So what imaginary copyright is this?

      1. big_D Silver badge
        FAIL

        Source code...

        Seeing as the article says that the iOS development team had looked at the source code and admired it, I would say that they did have a copy of the source code tro study!

      2. Stephen Rodda
        Paris Hilton

        The look of the logo for starters ;)

        Paris, because she'd agree...

      3. Martin Usher
        Stop

        Imaginary Copyright?

        These days is fashionable to claim copyright -- and even patents -- on "look and feel" issues. So, for example, if I built a gesture based interface on some random piece of hardware then I'd better make sure it differs significantly from Apple's interface. Obviously my code won't be the same as theirs -- not even remotely the same (coincidences apart) -- but that's not going to be much of a defense.

        Try it.....

      4. Daniel B.
        Devil

        Re: Copyright of what?

        "Did Apple copy the source code of Wifi Sync? Probably not, since the developer didn't send it to them"

        Isn't "send us teh codez" part of the approval process of Apple's App Store? The whole point of their approval process is that they "check" the code so that nothing ugly gets through ... or so Apple says.

        Of course, it is very possible that Apple just built their function from scratch, so it isn't a clear-cut case even if they did get the source code. :(

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Copyright

      I'm afraid you are mistaken. Copyright law wouldn't apply in this case since the developers don't submit source code to Apple, neither is Apple including his binary within their system.

    4. Ilgaz

      They must have covered that too

      When you send feedback to Apple as an ordinary user, it says:

      "Please read Apple’s Unsolicited Idea Submission Policy before you send us your feedback."

      And the document says

      "You agree that: (1) your submissions and their contents will automatically become the property of Apple, without any compensation to you"

      Oh BTW, as a "dead" Symbian owner which has no restrictions on apps as long as they aren't malicious or cause device malfunctions, here is my policy about such developers ignoring my device: I don't care and they deserve everything they get.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        WTF?

        Ignoring your device?

        "Oh BTW, as a "dead" Symbian owner which has no restrictions on apps as long as they aren't malicious or cause device malfunctions, here is my policy about such developers ignoring my device: I don't care and they deserve everything they get."

        Sorry, am I hearing this right, you are accusing college students and other hobbyist developers of deliberately ignoring your device?

        I didn't realize I was supposed to buy an extra phone and spend months of my free time learning a different development system and porting my apps because Symbian is your favorite. My bad.

    5. Ammaross Danan
      Thumb Down

      This....

      ....from a company that sues others for using "icons" in a "tiled array" on a "handheld device"....

      1. Alexander Vollmer
        WTF?

        Handheld Device

        @Ammaross Danan: I remember the late Sixties then a handheld device with an tiled array of buttons with pictures and signs was invented by Texas Instruments, the famous pocket calculator.

        They should sue Apple for imitating this principle and every other company using such a handheld device with an tiled array of icons. Or may be it belongs to the descendants of Thomas de Colmar who invented the Arithmometer which can be held in the hand, has an tiled array of buttons with icons and signs on them. Its had also a wireless sync mechanism implemented, it uses the human and his voice to connect to other places in the branch to exchange data.

    6. laycockmark

      Injunctions

      I agree - but what he should do is appoint a (voluntary) rep in every country he can find (worldwide) and get them to obtain a distro injuction based on breach of copyright and/or use of unlicensed proprietary software in his behalf for that country. Would be interesting to see how the judicial system handles it especially since obtaining injunctions is relatively inexpensive but wholly binding on any distribtuor.

    7. foo_bar_baz
      Angel

      Copyright

      Copyright protects the code from being copied, not an idea, look or functionality. If he'd trademarked his icon he'd have a very strong case.

      1. Def Silver badge

        Re: Copyright

        "If he'd trademarked his icon he'd have a very strong case."

        And if he'd patented his idea, he'd have an even stronger one. *This* is what patents were originally designed for. Protecting new ideas from being copied while a product is created and sold. Not for guessing what someone might need in five years time and trolling them to hell and back.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          @Def

          He'd have a hard time trademarking his icon, which is really made up of two already existing icons.

          Having said that... he probably could have trade marked the icon based on how the USPTO is so inept.

        2. rurik bradbury

          The idea is obvious

          And anyone could have told the developer that Apple was working on something like this. There is no legal case here, and I'd argue there is no moral case either.

          1. Handle This
            Thumb Down

            Re: "The idea is obvious" -- 10th June 2011 13:23 GMT

            "There is no legal case here, and I'd argue there is no moral case either."

            1. "There is no legal case here" -- You're wrong.

            2. "I'd argue there is no moral case either." -- You can make that argument, but you'd be wrong. Again.

            Of course, this is based only on my over 20 years of successful legal practice in the United States. Other jurisdictions can vary widely, just as can our opinions.

      2. ErikVeland

        Uh

        Except for the fact that the WiFi/AirPort icon is Apple's trademark in the first place. Now who ripped off who?

      3. Gil Grissum

        Hmmm.

        If he didn't trademark his idea, then he was either naive or an idiot. If Microsoft had done this, everyone would be calling for them to be sued. Apple does it and what, it's ok? He should sue the pants off them and get them to "settle out of court".

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Trademark

        "If he'd trademarked his icon he'd have a very strong case."

        I wouldn't have thought so. I'll bet if you take a look you'll find very similar icons have been in use for fairly similar apps. Furthermore it uses two designs which are pretty much accepted standards. The two arrows in a circle have been used to donate synchronization and that little wifi logo has been standard almost since wireless networking existed.

        Or in short I doubt he could trademark that icon.

      5. John Molloy
        Stop

        "If he'd trademarked his icon he'd have a very strong case."

        Save that "his icon" consists of Apple's icon for wi-fi inside Apple's logo for sync.

        So yes he probably has a strong case for insertion of two of Apple's icons being ripped off...

    8. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. tomasio
        FAIL

        I was a teenage Apple fanboy (and I am now a grown-up critic)

        First: I read a lot about the app which Greg Hughes developed, and according to the user comments at his twitter account (@flukes1) it was a very buggy product with long update cycles. nonetheless Apple stole his idea w/o a doubt and should be sued for this.

        ----OT----

        My relationship with apple products goes back a rather long way: It started with the use of a Apple LC II as Ad Lecturer at a newspaper 1994, at a time where Apple focused on user friendly and production oriented Desktop Computers. I was satisfied with Apple untill I purchased an iPhone 3G in January 2009, when I noticed a radical change in the company's customer policy.

        Suddenly I was the owner of a overpriced gadget which I thought was my legitimate property in goods which I can use freely as (to use a metaphor) a car which I drive in any direction I like, as I was used to do with my former apple products. I had to found out that I was placed on the co-driver's seat where you can watch Apple manipulate your iPhone at every iOS update the way _they_ like.

        As Apple released iOS 3 they included a tethering option so that I could use my iPhone as modem connecting my Macbook Pro to the internet everywhere my mobile carrier network allowed me to. The ability to use that feature was one main reason why I was willing to pay € 45,-/month to my carrier T-Mobile Austria by then.

        But Apple decided silently to drop this feature for many users with the update iOS 3.1 which closed out every unlocked iPhone, and obviously also iPhones bought with carrier contracts like mine. After a lot of communication between my carrier (they pointed me to apple) and apple (they pointed me to my carrier) the next iOS update brought tethering back. I was stunned that a company is able to remove features from your property without even asking the customer. To further stretch the car metaphor, it's like removing the car navigation system at a car service w/o asking the owner. Who would tolerate that?

        Now they came up with the Mac App Store which scans your computer for software and sends some of the information gathered to Apple. WTF does Apple give the right to scan _my_ property? The article commented is just another step of Apple pursuing its way to the dark side like Microshaft did a long time before them. In a long run I hope that the Apple users will wake up and show Steve Jobs and his company they will not tolerate this.

        1. Jason 38
          WTF?

          iPhone Tethering

          Most of your post seems to go on about tethering. The carrier sets this on/off in their carrier bundle. 3.1 saw this as the carriers wanted to manage how much data was consumed this way. And posibly charge for it.

    9. No, I will not fix your computer
      Big Brother

      Looks dodgy..... but

      Given wireless sync isn't exactly new (my Sony Palm TH55 was happily doing this sort of thing both directly to my PC (adhoc) or via a wireless router years ago), I'm genuinely surprised that this feature was missing for so long, also the icon is rather obvious (it's a wee bit predictable).

      Does it look like Apple have screwed him over? yes, but I don't think he could sue Apple any more than he could sue everybody else that had similar apps.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Holmes

        123abc

        "I'm genuinely surprised that this feature was missing for so long"

        along with a lot of the features that are on a iphone, they should hve been there in the first place and when they do arrive its to a fanfare of 1000 trumpets and apple make out that they have just invented this new feature !!

        Sherlock , because only he could deduce how apple have gotten away with this for so long....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Buy Apple

    Buy deceit.

    1. Elmer Phud

      All Your Apps Are Belong To Us

      as title

  3. Craigness

    I hope he sues

    As per title

  4. Originone
    Unhappy

    I'm trying...

    really hard to be shocked, or appaled. Even the slightest bit surprised would do. Instead i just get a creeping sense of resignation.

    The fact that they were so blatant about it goes to show they know we know and they just don't give a flying...

  5. tedl
    Holmes

    Or maybe Apple rejects app already in the plan for a future release?

    You guy crack me up. Yeah the concept of wireless syncing never entered the minds of Apple engineers before this guy submitted his app.Apple will reject any app that conflicts with any of their own current or future app plans. This is old news and has already been whined about endlessly.

    1. A handle is required
      FAIL

      When you put it that way

      @tedl:

      I completely agree with you, but think that you underestimate Apple's abilities; they were the original creators of the Wi-Fi Sync concept. However, a little known fact about Apple is that they've also created every other thing that exists now and that ever will exist.

      </heavySarcasm>

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Actually, yes

        If you would care to look up at your icon bar at the top of your screen (what do you mean you don't own a Mac? - see here: http://img.skitch.com/20081002-jqcy1d6xb85sqgx27bpq93qweu.png )

        you will notice that the Apple sync icon which has been in use for years, is two arrows in a circle. They put these arrows around things that sync. They also appear next to the iPhone / iPad etc in iTunes when it's syncing (they animate while syncing). Putting them around the Apple wifi symbol (the curved lines in a triangle to the right of that image above) is simply the obvious visual indicator for 'wireless sync'.

        It would be more accurate to say the other guy took two standard Apple icons, put them together in an 'obvious' way, stylised them a bit to make them look a bit different, then used that as his icon, then complained when Apple used their own icons in a similar way.

      2. rurik bradbury

        Unlikely the logo was stolen

        Apple has hundreds of thousands of apps in its store. And its graphic design team is totally separate from the app review team. The fact that the app was rejected means it is LESS likely that the icon design people saw it (and could therefore copy it).

        My guess: its sheer coincidence they are the same. The wifi symbol and the sync symbol are both ubiquitous. And combining them is highly generic.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Holmes

      They may have thought of it

      But if they didn't do it and someone did first. Tough Luck on them, I thought of the wind up radio about 5 years before the guy that brought it to market, probably like a few others, so doe sthat mean because i thought of it I shold get the profits.... or maybe it should be the guy that actually realised it

      1. Tom Sparrow
        Thumb Up

        @AC 08:58

        That's exactly how it works, didn't you know? http://xkcd.com/827/

      2. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Crooked metaphor, your anonymousness...

        Had you engineered and built said radio and offered it to this gentleman, who upon rejecting it took it apart, reverse engineered it, patented it and brought it to marked, you would sqeak differently.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. David_H
        Pirate

        Or made it

        Craft, Design and Technology 'O' level 1982

        Trevor Bayliss realised the product, comercialised the idea, and got the credit - so what?

        Thomas Edison did the same with Joseph Swan's light bulb

        What Apple has done is more like the actions of Alexander Bell, who stole Antoni Meucci's telephone. Another case of the rich and powerful stealing from the smaller man (or in Meucii's case pennyless). It took how many years before the US Congress finally admitted its regulatory ineptitude and restored Meucci as the rightful inventor of the telephone?

        1. david wilson

          @David_H

          >>"What Apple has done is more like the actions of Alexander Bell, who stole Antoni Meucci's telephone."

          Well, if /that's/ what Apple has done, then I must conclude that Antoni Meucci's telephone was something that was not only obvious and not ridiculously hard to make, but was already being produced by various other people long before he invented it.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      @tedl

      If it was already in the pipeline then Apple could and should have handled this is in a much more intelligent, ethical and straightforward way. You know, they could have just told him ... What they did looks dishonest and arrogant even if it wasn't intended that way (hard to believe but not impossible).

      1. david wilson

        @enigmatix

        >>"You know, they could have just told him"

        Speaking as a distinct non-Apple fan, I'd have to say that even though they *could*, they're not under any obligation (even a moral one, as far as I can see) to tell some random individual what they're currently developing, particularly if part of their marketing strategy for new products or updates seems to keeping people guessing and then announcing even fairly obvious features as some kind of miraculous development only they could have thought of even if the idea was not only obvious, but long in use elsewhere.

        Secrecy and hype is part of their (unfortunately apparently successful) philosophy of selling stuff to a certain subset of the population, and it's highly predictable that that secrecy would extend to keeping internal plans unpublicised.

        Also, even if they *had* replied saying "Sorry, but we're already working on that idea", that wouldn't have actually helped him much (that kind of reply might even have put some people off independent publishing), and wouldn't have been likely to satisfy him (or anyone else) that the idea wasn't being ripped off unless they were shown proof at the time of the rejection that the idea really was being worked on independently, which much of the time a company may well be understandably unlikely to want to do.

        Effectively, them not telling him what they were working on is consistent with both them ripping him off and them actually already working on the idea, so it doesn't have value as evidence either way.

        Personally, I'd love to see a story about someone going to Apple with an idea that was so non-obvious that Apple's subsequent development could only have been ripping the idea off, but this story seems about as far from that as it's possible to get.

        Sure, there's hypocrisy on Apple's part for making a fuss about 'appstore' and the like while seemingly relying on the obviousness of an idea/name/logo to justify their apparent duplication of it, but that seems to be about all they could reliably be accused of.

  6. mafoo
    Big Brother

    well

    Well there's airdrop that totally blatant.

    On the other hand, I not sure iOS developers have anything to do with the approvals process - so they probably didn't even see it. Its just the airport logo with some sync arrows around it.

    Do you honestly think apple's highly paid developers and marketing department are sitting at the end off the approvals process denying yet another pull my finder app? Unlikely.

    1. Arctic fox
      Headmaster

      @mafoo Re "Well"

      "Do you honestly think apple's highly paid developers and marketing department are sitting at the end off the approvals process denying yet another pull my finder app? Unlikely."

      It is possible that you have a point. However, it does leave an impression that suggests that the company's highly paid image management people are rather falling down on the job.

    2. Steven Knox
      FAIL

      Well

      "On the other hand, I not sure iOS developers have anything to do with the approvals process - so they probably didn't even see it."

      From the article:

      “They did say that the iPhone engineering team had looked at it and were impressed,” Hughes told El Reg. “They asked for my CV as well.”

      Please read next time.

    3. Ammaross Danan
      FAIL

      Pardon?

      "...so they probably didn't even see it"

      I think you failed to read the article where it stated he got a personal call from Apple which stated they showed it to the developers who "were impressed." 'nuf said? Thought so.

      /where's my RTFA (a for article) icon?

    4. Arkasha

      title

      "Do you honestly think apple's highly paid developers and marketing department are sitting at the end off the approvals process denying yet another pull my finder app? Unlikely."

      It is very likely that they are passed anything that looks like a money spinner. Did you not read the article? The developer received praise for his rejected app from the iPhone engineering team.

      As a developer I find this sort of behaviour by Apple distressing but not entirely unexpected. They have past form and, well, it's Apple isn't it?

    5. Craigness
      FAIL

      Read the article

      “They did say that the iPhone engineering team had looked at it and were impressed,”

  7. twburger
    Pirate

    Coincidence

    <sarcasm>

    It's merely a Coincidence. Apple would never steal an idea just because they could get away with it (and was provided with all of the source code).

    </sarcasm>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What source code?

      The developer never provided the source code

      1. Bullseyed
        Facepalm

        "Never had the source code"

        Uhh, if Apple never had the source code, how could the engineering team praise him for his good work before stealing it? If I draw a pretty picture and submit it to the app team will Apple's engineers call me too??!?!?!

        They'd have no way of praising it unless they had seen it.

        Not to mention the fact that it was for sale on a 3rd party site. I'm sure Apple can afford the $9.99 to download it and recolor the icon.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Terminator

          You are an idiot

          The approval process does not require or even provide a method for sending source code to Apple so theory number 1 is shot.

          Idiot theory number 2 is that the engineering team cannot look at an app without having code... Uh hello.... It's called loading it onto a device and that still doesn't require source code.

          Idiot theory number 3 is that they spent 10 bucks and then just dropped it into the new iOS. That is so retarded I don't even know where to begin.

          The app originally got rejected for using private API's which violates the rules for app store submissions and rather than try to clean up his code and make it compliant he ran off to the Cydia store. That's his mistake.

          If Apple was that impressed they would have hired him like they have done to other devs that make something interesting but the fact is the idea is not new and the icon is not new. The developer should just be happy that he made some money in the Cydia store and should stop whining so much.

          And no. This isn't a fanboi point of view, it is a developer point of view. I've had ideas taken from me and I don't cry about it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      You lot crack me up!

      What I do find very, very amusing about all this is that you guys are all ragging on Apple for their rather shifty activities and fair play to you, but then sticking up for a developer on an Apple platform, which would make him....now what's the phase? Oh yes, a fricking huge fanboi?! The guy loves Apple stuff so much that he learned to code, very well it seems enough to impress Apple themselves, then he coded apps for Apple platforms, so he's a dyed-in-the-wool fanboi, no question about it.

      So you are essentially sticking up for Apple fanbois and making this guy a hero/martyr for coding for Apple platforms? Don't forget he still submitted his app to Cydial app portal for getting Apple software onto Apple platforms.

      Brilliant, love the double standards around here!

      1. noboard
        WTF?

        Errrmmmm

        "Don't forget he still submitted his app to Cydial app portal for getting Apple software onto Apple platforms."

        Which no apple fanboi would ever do. He's a developer looking to make money. Selling an app to sync your android phone to iTunes wouldn't sell very well.

      2. Haku

        @AC 9th June 2011 11:54 GMT

        Bullcrap.

        The bottom line here is money.

        You do not need to be a fanboi to make & sell apps for an iPhone - I'm not a fan of Apple but if I saw an idea opportuntiy for making money from an app that doesn't yet exist I'd sure try my best to make & sell said app.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Looks like...

    Looks like this guy has a good case for suing here.

    Does he have the money and the balls though?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      small claims court

      he's uk based so file a small claims court. It isnt that expensive to do so, he could file a small claim and ask for a cease and desist. Apple will try and bounce it up the line simply resist this with some decent research and away he goes.

      Apple will no doubt try to settle with him as they wouldnt like a cease and desist.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        its not a small claim

        the small claims court does what it says on the tin - it will command that you are paid what you are owed. It does not have the power to force feature on or off a software platform, nor can it suspend shipments if the said features are not removed. This would be "big claims", and you need the big claims court.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Icons

    Apple's icon for Wifi Sync is just the combination of their existing Wifi strength indication plus the iSync that they've had for years. Get it? Wifi + Sync? If anything you could say the student's icon was already inspired by Apple's own iconography.

    Of all the things Apple picked up on for iOS 5 this is probably the worst choice to base such dramatic pilfering claims on. And pilfering, really? Did the student submit the source code for this? I think Apple had to implement it all, doubt their using his binary.

    And btw the student's original app store submission was rejected because he overrode the sandboxing that all apps submitted to the store have to adhere to.

    1. Bullseyed
      FAIL

      Re

      I was unaware that Apple invented wifi and the wifi logo.

  10. ratfox Silver badge

    Lack of patent

    Not patented = up for grabs!

    H6242.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      not patented

      copyright, not patent.

      1. ratfox Silver badge

        copyright, not patent

        Really? As far as I understand, copyright is only infringed if they directly lift his code. As long as they only copy his idea, and rewrite a program that works exactly the same way (being careful to write the code from scratch, and not modifying his code), there is no copyright problem.

        IANAL, of course.

  11. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    Same old Apple

    What a bunch of absolute f*cking *rseholes. Enough said.

  13. RichyS

    Tenuous

    Isn't Apple's wifi sync icon just a mash up of their existing wifi logo (found on all iDevices and Macs) with the iSync logo (from your Mac). One is transposed onto the other, before being placed onto the metallic rounded corner background that Apple seems to have chosen for all things iCloudy.

    Really, what other icon did you expect Apple to come up with. I doubt they needed this Dev's app as inspiration.

    1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Agreed, but..

      Yeah, it's a logical and obvious combination of "Sync" and "Wifi" - as such, a good icon design

      Now, if Apple *had* used his icon, it would at least be legible. Theirs is awful - Black on dark grey, with an strong black/white reflection pattern* overlaid on it - it's very hard to see what the hell it is.

      On a complete side-rant, I really don't like how every UI design now contains a faux-gloss pattern on it, that reduces legibility of the content; contrast is in short enough supply if you use these devices outdoors - why rob more of it with stupid reflection effects? Aero takes the prize for this: using it is like being trapped in a hall of mirrors.

      Thankfully, it seems we're moving away from this: Microsoft's Metro and Windows 8 might be bland, but they are very clear - obviously lessons were learned from Aero. I also have to give a mention to Nokia's new Anna iconography - simple, clear, touch-friendly, and the best use of colour I've seen in a UI. It's nice to see there are still designers working in the computer industry, not just Photoshop monkeys...

      1. Adam T

        Inevitability

        Agree with Richie and Kristian. There's only so many ways to skin a cat, and the icon is fairly obvious choice, and wireless syncing is a fairly obvious inevitability. No room for entropy here.

        Hughs app was probably rejected because they can't allow that kind of functionality to be delivered by a 3rd party -- call it mind control or call it quality control, some things are difficult calls. I'm sure the app is well written, but there are warranty issues abound if an app has the potential to damage the functionality of the device (such as a broken sync). That should be obvious too.

        A little more rationality, and a little less ZOMG, perhaps.

        1. sabroni Silver badge

          "only so many ways to skin a cat"

          there's also only so many ways to lay out icons on a phone screen. Didn't stop apple suing over a grid array of icons on a phone. There's only so many names for a store that sells apps, Doesn't stop apple trying to trademark "appstore". What's sauce for the goose...

          .

          .

          .

          .

          .

          .

          ....is goose sauce, obv...

          1. Adam T

            @sabroni

            I don't believe I've ever tasted good sauce, now I'm goose-curious.

            You're right of course - I'm not defending them, but I think a different game is played with different stakes. Apple, Samsung, Nokia, etc etc... they're all big boys, and they all throw the same kind of rocks at each other.

            Maybe there should be a Running Man style competition, where Patent holders get to duke it out in a fight for survival. Common man vs CEO, and all they can bring into the arena is a loin cloth...

            1. BorkedAgain
              Thumb Up

              I love that idea!

              It'd be worth breaching a few patents just to have the right to have a pop at some of these chaps. Mind you, you'd have to get in line to have a go at Ellison and Jobbie...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They did it to a camera app too

    Camera+'s "Volume Snap" was rejected because "Your application cannot be added to the App Store because it uses iPhone volume buttons in a non-standard way, potentially resulting in user confusion. Changing the behavior of iPhone external hardware buttons is a violation of the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. Applications must adhere to the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines as outlined in the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement section 3.3.7"

    Fast forward to today and they've announced that exact feature. So citing potential user confusion is a load of bull - no user would get confused about such a capability.

    1. Real Name
      Facepalm

      Difference is...

      If an app sets it to be used differently to how Apple and iOS want, then that would confuse the user. "Why is this app taking a picture? No other app does"

      In iOS5, Apple have said it is now a feature, thus removing user confusion because it is clearly stated you can do that.

      This also means other camera apps can use that feature, because the user will no longer be confused.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Not really

      It's their OS, their device, their rules. Clearly it makes sense to use the button in this way this so they have given users this option. It's not like any app developer is ever going to get access to launch their app from a locked phone screen now is it?

      Also they publish the rules in the license agreement. Any developer that writes an app in breach of published guidelines has zero grounds for complaint.

      1. Adam T

        Inevitability Part II

        Developers walk a thin line with Apple when doing anything with the hardware that goes beyond the expected operation as described by Apple in the official use documentation.

        Is it a bit shitty? Yeah sure, but every developer not living in a cave knows that Apple tows the hard-line. You submit things to them at your own risk. Crying about it afterwards is ungentlemanly.

      2. JonHendry
        Boffin

        Could have been better, though

        " Clearly it makes sense to use the button in this way this so they have given users this option. "

        I think it'd be even better if they'd used the headphone remote's pause button. That way pressing the button wouldn't risk moving the phone and screwing up the shot.

        You can probably use the volume button on the remote and get that benefit, but using one of the volume buttons seems imbalanced, like the other button should do something to the camera as well.

        Of course, the phone itself doesn't have a pause button like the remote does, which is a flaw in my idea.

    3. Steve Sims
      Big Brother

      Guidelines change

      Guidelines aren't fixed in stone, and they can change.

      Given that Apple have now announced that their own camera app will allow photos to be taken with a volume button, I expect that if Camera+'s developers submitted a new version of their app with that feature restored then it would now be approved.

      Citing "potential user confusion" was not necessarily "a load of bull" - they likely genuinely held that opinion at the time. Their opinions have clearly now changed. An inability to change opinions is the domain of politicians, not rational people.

  15. NightFox

    Not Convinced

    Don't think this is quite an open and shut case; I'd say the chances of anyone independently coming up with the name Wi-Fi Sync for an app/function that allows you to, er, sync over Wi-Fi was pretty high. Likewise, the Apple logo is fairly consistent with the existing Apple iSync logo, but with the standard Apple Wi-Fi icon in the middle so there's probably a reasonable chance of Apple's own designers coming up with this - I can hardly see them hitting a total designer's block trying to come up with a suitable icon for wireless syncing and turning to plagiarism.

    Not saying the student's app name and icon weren't there first, it's just I don't think it's unique or obscure enough to conclude that Apple have copied something that after all seems fairly obvious.

    1. JCL
      Meh

      in that case

      I suppose if it's ok for Apple to call an app "Wi-Fi Sync" because it syncs over Wi-Fi, even though there is another existing app for the same platform called that, then it'd be ok for, oh, some other company to have an app store and call it an app store even though there is already an app store called App Store owned by Apple?

    2. Jason Terando
      Devil

      Pot, meet kettle

      "the chances of anyone independently coming up with the name Wi-Fi Sync for an app/function that allows you to, er, sync over Wi-Fi was pretty high"

      Almost as high as coming up with the term Appstore for a store that sells apps...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        But

        Was "Wi-Fi Sync" a registered trademark? That's the difference.

        1. Tomato42 Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: But

          Well, IANAL but that should matter only if he did similar app for Android or Symbian, that is Apple wasn't made aware of its existence. He made it for iOS and submitted it to Apple. Now Apple is using his name, functionality he came up with and a similar icon.

    3. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Go

      you think so

      but in the uk the civil burden is reasonable not absolute so every little helps. Student submits to apple, apple looks at app, icon, functionality and name. rejects then implements into its own iOS using same functionality, name and very similar icon.

      That shows reasonable to me.

  16. drengur
    Thumb Down

    Daresay it was in the works prior to his submission

    ... however, the least they could do is throw him some coin for the code and written it off as a PR expense.

    If he had no idea they were rolling it into their next release, it seems pretty harsh to penalise him for not knowing Apple's internal roadmap.

    guess they won't be looking at his CV now that he's leaked it to the press!

    1. Lamont Cranston
      Devil

      Puts me in mind of that Simpsons episode,

      where Bill Gates has his goons destroy Homer's internet business, rather than buying him out, explaining that he doesn't stay rich by handing out money to all and sundry. Gosh, is Steve Jobs really that evil?

  17. ben edwards

    Ripped off? More like took an idea already in the pipeline and pre-empted...

    He ripped off the wifi+sync logos and trademarked names and threw them together... Shouldn't he have to pay a royalty for that? He certainly has the income for it, with 50,000 sales at an average of $7/pop.

    1. Angus 2
      Stop

      really?

      How would they prove that? Especially as he got first to market with the app by over a year so kinda hard to say he ripped them off. The name I would think is too generic for Hughes get het up about, but then that has never stopped companies from trying it on before, so maybe.

    2. Oliver Mayes
      Meh

      *squints*

      Not sure if trolling or just fanboi.

      1. RegisterThis

        @Oliver Mayes

        ... but they both deserve the same treatment in the forums :-)

  18. Mr Ian
    Devil

    Next thing Apple sues him for similarity in the name + icon

    Change your apps name. Not that big of a deal.

    Steve.

    Sent from my iPhone.

    1. Notorious Biggles

      Or better yet:

      "Change your apps name. Not that big of a deal.

      Greg.

      Sent from my jailbroken iPhone."

  19. Steve Dockery
    WTF?

    Obvious, Really

    Seriously. The idea of syncing over Wi-Fi is something that people have been suggesting, and Apple surely must have been considering for ages.

    And the icon Apple came up with is completely obvious, and is clearly more directly based on their own design iconography. In Apple's world, the sync arrows are round.

    Anyway, the app's concept is obvious, its name is obvious, and its logo is obvious. Unless it can be proven Apple has stolen actual source code, then there's pretty much nothing to see here.

    People chalking this up to Apple being evil are ones who already figure Apple is evil, and this is just One More Example.

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Despite the claims in this article

    The new official Wifi Sync logo is clearly a combination of Apple existing logos for Wifi and iSync.

    As for the name well, did the student attempt anything slightly more original like WiSync or similar? No, he wen't for the most obvious one possible. Sync (what Apple already called this action) and Wi-Fi, the official name used by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

    He also didn't even attempt to trademark it, so Apple is perfectly within their rights to use it.

    Did Apple rip off the source code? No, because App Store submissions are for the binary only.

    So what did Apple rip off exactly? The idea that one could do sync a computer to a mobile device over Wi-fi? Wait wasn't the Palm already syncing over Wi-Fi well before this?

    If anything Apple ripped off that from Palm, but then again they may have licensed it. Don't think they got much from the student.

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Indeed

      It's very hard to trademark such a generic symbol. The logo contains a fairly generic Wifi symbol and a process symbol.

      The makers of Casper tried to sue the makers of the film Ghostbusters as they said the logo was too similar to Casper. The judge ruled there's not really many ways you can draw a cartoon ghost.

  22. Francis Vaughan

    Obvious

    Lets see how down voted I can get.

    Given that syncing over WiFi has been one of the most clearly missing features from iOS, and its lack has been the subject of a lot of complaint over time, it is hardly reasonable to suggest that either the idea is somehow original to this guy, or that Apple didn't have it in the feature roadmap from day one, along with things like cut and paste. Indeed, if a few years ago some guy had come out with an app for "cut and paste" for iOS, and had had it rejected by Apple, would we be baying for Apple's blood because they later added a feature called "cut and paste" which, surprise surprise, did cut and paste? Hardly.

    This guy got given an amazing opportunity by Apple being ridiculous and not having WiFi ability from day one. The idea is obvious, the name obvious, and the logo obvious. (Put ten people in a room and ask them to design the WiFi Sync logo, the majority will come up with the same one. The point of the logo design is not that it be some creative triumph, but that it be obvious what it means. This leads to pretty well only one possible design.)

    So, the gravy train is over. Half a million in sales is a gift that most of us could only dream of. Be grateful, move on.

  23. JonHendry
    Gimp

    Eh. Pretty obvious functionality, name and icon

    The name is purely descriptive of what it does, sync over wifi. The icons are pretty close to the pre-existing wifi and sync iconography. And it's not like nobody else ever thought "gosh, it'd be nice to sync wirelessly." Lots of people probably thought that the day the iPhone was released and didn't have wireless sync. This guy just went ahead and implemented it.

    The case would be stronger if the guy's logo were more original, and if his software's name had been more distinctive.

    I doubt this guy's implementation was the same as Apple's new one, because Apple's implementation is probably plugged into the whole iCloud infrastructure, rather than just connecting to your computer wirelessly.

  24. Stuart Duel
    FAIL

    So what...

    The guy created an application which activated functionality Apple had, up until WWDC, decided against including in the iphone for whatever reasons, including security.

    The guy "created" a logo by combining the Apple icon for syncing (the chasing snakes) with Apple's logo for Airport (the radiating wave).

    He accessed APIs or used them in such a way which was not permitted, and unsurprisingly had the app rejected. He then sold this rejected app in an "renegade" store in defiance of the agreement entered into with Apple.

    And in the wash up, he has made a bucket of money, but now the sun is setting on that particular little venture.

    Don't look for any sympathy here.

  25. Wrenchy
    Linux

    Steve Jobs was right AGAIN!

    2011 is indeed the "Year of the Copycats".

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "third-party developers that deserve a heart-felt thanks from Apple"

    If the author of this article would bother to investigate it would find that at least one of those developers is now actually employed at Apple (MobileNotifier). That was really the only one used almost directly (but no worries, it was BSD licensed from the start)

    Notified is very idea to MobileNotifier but since Apple picked the latter we can't really say they took anything from the former. The system in iOS 5 has nothing to do with Notified.

    LockInfo may have served as inspiration but Apple's implementation is much different.

    Rich Text Messages? Apple already had that on their desktop e-mail client, it's not like it was anything new.

    Finally there's what? iBye - a backup app that has nothing to do with iCloud.

    Seriously is that the catalogue of a "variety of developers" Apple suposedely should thank for?

    Well they did - to the one that mattered - by giving him a paycheck at the end of each month, even though they could have just taken his BSD licensed code and ran with it.

  27. Winkypop Silver badge
    Mushroom

    The big boys almost always win.

    This has been the way since time immemorial.

    Whether it's swords and donkeys, or iPhones and Lawyers*

    * there is a similarity here.

  28. Daniel 4

    Are we for or against software patents?

    Because while this isn't /technically/ a patent issue (there are no software patents in the UK, for one), this is the basic philosophical issue here. We would have to review it to be certain, but it seems unlikely Apple used the submitted application's actual source code (again, like many, I suspect they already had this in early development - but even if not, they just didn't need to). So this CAN NOT be a copyright violation on the app itself.

    Ok, what about the logo? Well, as has been said, it's actually a pretty generic logo. There may be an argument to be made if the student had trademarked his logo, but let's be honest - if he had, he'd probably find himself in court with Apple for trying to trademark something that looks /way/ to much like their own icon set.

    The name? If you can come up with a more generic name than "wifi sync" that actually conveys any meaning, I'd like to hear it. No, I doubt there is a trademark case there, either.

    Which leaves us with two issues: One - did Apple rip off the student's idea? Maybe... though I doubt it. That said, if it can be demonstrated that they took the student's idea, during a time that they did NOT have that idea on their own, while under some rough equivalent to an NDA... there might be a case. To say that I doubt that all of these conditions is met is like saying that I doubt my cat is going to get it into his head to go down to the store and do my grocery shopping. The only other way a company can "steal" a software idea is via software patents - which, the last I checked, were rather unpopular around here.

    Now, I suspect what people are really upset about is that it /looks/ like Apple bullied a small guy, sidelined him, took his metaphorical ball and played their own game. In reality, I suspect they turned him down because he rather blatantly broke their dev guidelines, he went elsewhere where he was more appreciated, and Apple went about it's business the same way they would have if he had never come along. The big thing to complain about here is Apple's walled garden, and that's a double edged sword - for all it's problems, a non-jailbroken iphone at least tries to do a good balance of features and stability than most, if not all other smart phones you can get at that price point - with stable being the key word here. The walled garden has a lot to do with that. If you don't like playing by Jobs' rules, then either jailbreak an iPhone or get another platform. Truth be told, I don't even think Apple cares too much, so long as it's just hard enough to do that they aren't losing a mint - in support more than revenues.

    -d

    P.S. - Disclaimer - I have an iPhone, but am seriously considering other options for my next phone purchase (sometime this summer). Given the context, I don't think I can really be called a fan or a hater.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    They used a similar icon ...>>

    ...and the same (obvious) name. No evidence for anything else. Probably the app was rejected because they already had the functionality ready.

    That won't stop the bashing crowd climbing on the outrage bus though.

  30. markusgarvey
    WTF?

    iRipoff...

    Apple business model:

    use slave/child labor in China...check

    steal app's from college students...check

    discourage backward compatibility....check

    make your users think they have to upgrade hard/software every 6 months...check

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/wtf_32.png

    make sure hardware lasts no longer than 3 years...check

    all hardware is proprietary...check

    why do people buy their stuff again?...http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/wtf_32.png

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Apple own all submitted apps...

      so, any programmer is wasting his/her time developing apps that increase the OSs functionaliy. Apple will add it to the OS at their convenience and maybe say thanks for the thought. Stick to developing games, Angry Mice anyone?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Gimp

      You forgot ...

      ... FIFA.

      Do they sponsor FIFA? Well do they? Huh? Is Apple part of the Football Family? We must know.

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a load of rubbish!

    Hasn't anyone noticed that this 'new' icon merely combines 2 icons Apple has used for many, many years? It's simply the standard 'sync' icon enclosing the standard wi-fi icon. Doesn't that seem obvious for wi-fi sync? Or do you think Apple should not be able to use its own icons without accusations of copying?

  33. Tony Paulazzo
    Devil

    Apple apologists

    Denial is strong with this group.

    Apple copy Android notifications, rip off wireless synch and camera/volume button ideas, sell icloud lockin and jokingly tell their developers to 'just change the name, no problem', and people are still defending their every action.

    Sent from my jailbreaked iPad.

  34. Rob Moir
    Facepalm

    I can see why he's upset but I don't know that he's got an actual case

    The icon - both his and the "new" apple one, are both the icon apple already use for "isync" (the two arrows) with a wifi symbol in the middle to reflect the fact that it's sync over wifi. Have to say that I think he's got a very thin case there.

    As for the app, again, I think his case is a bit thin - both himself and apple are copying "prior art" from android, are they not?

  35. Ian Ferguson
    Devil

    Why is this bad?

    Would you prefer that Apple NEVER implement wi-fi sync, just because some kid suggested it and it's therefore 'his' idea?

    Wi-Fi sync is such an obvious and much-demanded improvement to iOS that it would be frankly ridiculous to claim that this kid 'invented' it.

    Devil icon as in 'devil's advocate'

  36. Scott Mckenzie

    Slow News Day?

    Seriously?

    If i were a judge and someone bought that to a court and charge them with wasting time.

  37. Jon Massey
    Meh

    Lawyer up

    It's the only way to be sure.

  38. LawLessLessLaw
    Boffin

    generic name for obvious app

    When I saw thew bullet points for what's new in iOS5 my first reaction was : "blimey, you've been living *without* those things for all this time, I thought your platform was supposed to be useful. I guess they had to spend a lot of time getting the phone to pretend to be a flute".

    And the icon, the symbol for WiFi combined with the symbol for sync as used by 1990s Palm Pilot.

    let me know when there's some *real* news, ta.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      but it would be good PR to...

      give some credit to the kid and maybe some money or maybe a job. Bet he'd sign it over to them given what a boost it's given to his employment prospects/reputation - surely what he's primarily interested in given his situation.

      Apple look like a ham-fisted evil corporate by the way they've handled this no matter what the legal position is or whether they were just incompetent. Being "nice" doesn't have to cost very much at all. Coming across as "nasty" seems counter-productive and unnecessary.

    2. BorkedAgain
      Gimp

      Good thing you're not a judge, then.

      Duh.

    3. JonHendry

      Not exactly

      "And the icon, the symbol for WiFi combined with the symbol for sync as used by 1990s Palm Pilot."

      That's what I thought too, at first, but googling it revealed that the Palm sync icon was actually closer to a ying/yang symbol. The arrows arc around half the circle, similar to the Apple icon, but then meet in the center.

  39. gc_uk

    Apple (allegedly) borrows idea shocker

    I don't know what the fuss is about, Apple have been putting their own spin on others ideas and passing them off as original and new for years.

    Apple's insistence on disallowing custom APIs means there will never be any real innovation, there's only so many ways you can put the bricks together, unless you can invent new bricks. Developers will always be behind Apple since the rules don't apply to them.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's fine to attack Apple, but for the right reason...

    Synchronization of storage between networked units is an old concept. The problem isn't that Apple now has implemented such a function of their own (unless they've copied the source and thus violated copyrights). The problem is the terms that Apples customer have to accept which give Apple the authority to reject such an application from a 3rd-party developer.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    The Sock Puppets and Fanbois are strong in this thread

    Why have a PR department when the remtards which buy this expensive, locked-in shite will do your job for you

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      It's what happens...

      ...when customers are very happy with what they have bought. You will notice that 99.9% of anti-Apple vitriol is from people who don't own an Apple product, have never owned an Apple product, have no intention of ever owning an Apple product.

      Now, if Apple were as evil as people claim, surely it would be the product owners that would be making the loudest noises of complaint, as they would be the ones suffering on a daily basis would they not? Except that doesn't happen.

      Think about that.

      1. Jedit
        Facepalm

        "If Apple were evil, the product owners would complain"

        Yes, and Scientology can't possibly be evil because Scientologists don't complain about it constantly. It's all people who have never been part of the brainwashing cult and have no intention ever to be part of it, plus a few ex-Scientologists, who are giving the magical and revolutionary Church of L Ron Hubbard a bad name.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Um.

          "Yes, and Scientology can't possibly be evil because Scientologists don't complain about it constantly."

          Slight difference here, namely that Apple are exchanging money for products that actually work and not exploiting and hurting vulnerable people by peddling some bullshit religion with absolutely no basis in reality whatsoever.

          By your logic I might as well claim that all the people killed by murderers don't complain.

          Fail.

          1. BorkedAgain
            Pint

            Uh...

            But if the product is "100% guaranteed salvation after death or your money back" then surely...

            I liked your point about the murderers, though. I'm convinced. Murder is okay. That was your point, right?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Typical hateboy comment @OP

      No arguments, just personal attacks

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    decompilers?

    @+++ath0 "Did Apple rip off the source code? No, because App Store submissions are for the binary only."

    Do we KNOW they've not seen the source or is it just supposition, if they asked for his CV maybe they asked for more (or maybe he even voluntered more). But in any case there are decompilers, binaries can be reverse engineered - harder work than using the source but not necessarily harder than a clean room cloning of the functionality.

    I guess one indication is what the controls, configuration etc look like, are the simiarities deeper than just logo, broad functionality and name?

    Is anyone going to tell me Apple don't look at what's doing well on Cydia - and perhaps "take inspiration" from it? In their view that's not ripping-off the developers, the developers deserve what they get for evading the Apple Tax and wanting to get paid for their work developing worthwhile apps only to have them rejected by the Apple appstore on sometimes spurious grounds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      o.O

      ....are you SERIOUSLY suggesting that Apple would need to decompile someone else's code to get THEIR software syncing with THEIR devices which are also running THEIR software?

      Seriously? ಠ_ಠ

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No

        Read the post. It challenges the assertion made in some other posts that one needs to be handed the source in order to find out how a program works. There is no suggestion that Apple may have used a decompiler in this instance. Beyond a pretty UI I don't know how goodApple's developers are but were they to clone something I'd like to think they were sufficiently competent not to need source, less still need to decompile binaries. To clone software functionality it's usually easier/better to do just that, clone the functionality not the specific code even given source access. Decompiled code is effectively undocumented with "unhelpful" variable and function names, it's a serious pain to work with - but decompilers do exist and there are reasons for that. Occasionally decompiling may be more attractive than starting from scratch, it's a case by case decision.

        The real issue in this specific instance is that the "engineering team had looked at it and were impressed” which seems to counter the suggestions that "they were going to do it anyway" or at least that this implementation went beyond what they'd had in mind. Also rejection on the grounds of "unspecified security concerns and that it did things not specified in the official iPhone software developers' kit" is a bit vague. As a developer I'd want to know specifics so I could address them and resubmit the app, if Apple don't provide that kind of feedback the options are: try to guess what Apple didn't like, fix and resubmit (possibly unsuccessfuly): write off all the development effort or go to another appstore.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          re: No

          "The real issue in this specific instance is that the "engineering team had looked at it and were impressed” which seems to counter the suggestions that "they were going to do it anyway" or at least that this implementation went beyond what they'd had in mind."

          On the other hand, the engineering team might impressed because they simply thought it was very impressive what he had designed and built just on his own.

          We just simply don't know. Don't get me wrong, what you said could very well have been the case, but we have very little information to go on.

    2. JonHendry

      Different kinds of sync

      There'd be no point reading the kid's code. Apple's wifi syncing is tied into iCloud and whatnot, and thus will be using new iCloud-related APIs (plus new crypto APIs, etc) that the kid didn't have, and which have wider applicability across the OS and applications.

      They superficially appear to do the same thing, but they accomplish it in very different ways.

  43. thesykes

    Fanbois are soooo funny

    Samsung create a phone, that looks similar to the iPhone, and uses icons that are similar. Apple sues Samsung. Quite right say the fanbois, baaaaaad Samsung.

    Amazon open a store selling apps, and call it an appstore. Apple sue Amazon for using thier name Appstore, which is not a generic term for a store selling apps. Quite right say the fanbois, baaaaaad Amazon.

    Developer creates an app, submits it to Apple, who reject it. Then an app with the same name and same icon appear in iOS5, but, say the fanbois, that icon is just a what you'd expect the icon to be and the name is just a generic name. Quite right say the fanbois, baaaaaad developer.

    But, the fanbois can't see the irony.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Actually

      It would be more accurate to say that Apple applied for and were granted a Service Mark for the term 'App Store', then complained when another company used the same term.

      I suppose you would be ok if I launched an OS and called it Windows? I mean 'windows' is a generic term right? What's the problem?

      1. CD001

        Umm...

        ----

        I suppose you would be ok if I launched an OS and called it Windows? I mean 'windows' is a generic term right? What's the problem?

        ----

        And THAT is why MS settled with Lindows OUT OF COURT - they didn't want the precedent of Windows being legally declared as generic... technically it's not a generic term (in the OS world) at the moment - it is generally understood to refer to MS Windows. Had MS taken it to court and then lost, which they may well have done, they'd not have a leg to stand on should you want to make your own OS and call it "My Windows" or whatever - just don't copy the "flag", that's trademarked.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          FAIL

          Lindows != Windows

          "And THAT is why MS settled with Lindows"

          Lindows != Windows

          Are you seriously expecting me to believe that if it had been called 'Windows' that Microsoft would have lost in court? 'Similar to' and 'brand dilution' are grey areas. 'Exact copy of a trademark' is something else entirely.

          1. Noons
            FAIL

            Windows? Do you mean X? Or that rip off, MS?

            Having blatantly stolen the name for their OS from the Xerox GUI, I suspect MS would have a hard time defending its ownership in court... Mr. Kodak was a very clever man.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        hmmm...

        Ask Sony how it worked for them with "Walkman". They lost a lawsuit against another company that was using it to pawn their own hardware. Much like band-aid and tissue.

    2. rurik bradbury

      Big difference

      The concept of a touchscreen-only, grid of icons OS did not exist in any meaningful way before Apple created it. Android ripped it off wholesale in 2008, and Samsung skinned it into a blatant ripoff.

      Wifi sync was a well known and ubiquitous concept for years before this developer put out his app. At Apple's scale, it takes years of planning to implement big things like cloud syncing -- so just because they had not implemented it YET does not mean it was not in the works (Android already had it after all).

      1. Tilman Ahr
        Thumb Down

        n.a.

        "The concept of a touchscreen-only, grid of icons OS did not exist in any meaningful way before Apple created it. Android ripped it off wholesale in 2008, and Samsung skinned it into a blatant ripoff."

        I'm not saying Samsung's UI wasn't a ripoff, but Palm's PDAs were mostly touchscreen only (apart from some hardware buttons), and guess how the icons were arranged...

        As someone else already stated: there aren't exactly many ways to arrange icons on a touch-sensitive, fairly small screen that make any kind of sense.

        But I'm probably not going to convince you that basically all elements of the iPhone's UI were implemented by some other device before it - the only innovation was in the combination of them in one package.

        Which is impressive enough imo, but they might want to be a little more humble in their claims of innovation, what with shoulders of giants and all...

  44. Syren Baran
    Devil

    Too late to file a patent?

    For "method and apparatus for syncing an iOS device with an iTunes library without user interaction"?

    The guy obviously has the prior art. No idea about the maximum time between invention and patent filing. Might make for a neat lil' gold mine ...

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No patentable idea...

    Those who suggest a patent have nothing to patent. Synchronising contents over WiFi and Bluetooth has been done for years. May I point to the iPAQ as example, which allowed MS ActiveSync to backup and synchronise content between a PC and a Windows mobile device? May I point to Nokia who allowed Bluetooth connectivity to be used with Nokia PC Suite to again, synchronise and backup a Nokia device with a PC?

    Please people, stop getting yourselves in a froth over this... Yes, it sucks for the developer, having his app rejected, but then again, Apple specifically says that they reserve the right to if it breaks rules. And it did (sandboxing). However, Apple conceded that it was a brilliant idea, and it is quite likely that that kind of functionality was already in the works. If Apple was smart, they would probably have watched the popularity of WiFi Sync rise and adjusted their new feature priority accordingly.

    As for those moaning about how they could've told the developer WHY his app was rejected (i.e. "we're working on a similar feature"), please cast your mind back to how Apple does its marketing. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, is ever leaked ahead of time by Apple staff (unless they speak anonymously), so why would they want to break that mantra officially by telling an iApp dev that they are working on similar features?

    Up- or down-vote this... I don't care. But I will say this... working in software I know how commercial software is developed and how things sometimes are just purely co-incidental (and sometimes not).

  46. SWITCH OFF AND RESART
    Big Brother

    TYPICAL APPLE

    Yet again the hippies show their true colours , rip off suppress ,sue, the sooner Jobs jogs on to the Genius bar the better

  47. b166er

    Eh?

    Most seem to be missing the point.

    It's not that Apple ripped off his idea (though that is iRonic, given Apple's stance on such things), it's that they denied this chap the full revenue stream.

    In spite of this, the guy pursisted, to his absolute credit, and it proved popular on an open (jailbroken) system.

    I hope he continues to distribute his application in as many ways as possible, and continues to do a better job than Apple.

    We need entrepreneurs and the likes of Apple should, with every breath, be prevented from trying to control that.

    That said, iPhone sales are static, so perhaps he should port it to an Android/Windows Phone 7 app. Might not get £9.99, but x10 the amount of sales at £1 should cover it.

    1. Jedit
      Headmaster

      He wouldn't get a penny

      Because Android at least already has wireless syncing built in. The market for the iPhone app only exists because iOS is a shabby piece of crap.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Coffee/keyboard

        funny !!

        "The market for the iPhone app only exists because iOS is a shabby piece of crap."

        LMAO, you sir, owe me a new netbook, this one is covered in chunks of chicken bhuna

  48. Dan Wilkinson

    Hmmm, what to call it...

    So, we are synchronising stuff using wifi, and we need a name and an icon. What to do? Well, clearly the act of synchronising is to ensure that 2 or more things have a consistent state, so that gives us some simple language everyone might understand. And how do we explain Wifi? Perhaps we could mention that it is is a transport mechanism that does not rely on the plugging on of a cable in order to make a connection for the ensuring that 2 or more things have a consistent state. So that's our product name! iOS5, featuring the capability-th-ensure-that-2-or-more-things-are-able-to-maintain-a-consistent-state-using-a-transport-mechanism-that-does-not-rely-on-the-use-of-a-cable-that-needs-plugging-in!

    Or...we could just use wifi sync...either that or we can have a bunfight as to where it was used first, Android? Windows Phone 7? Zune? Palm? Generic term guys. And as has already ben said, generic icon, made up of previously used generic icons.

    This guys had his 2nd five minutes of fame now, we can move on.

  49. HFoster

    The smart thing to have done

    I think maybe the smart thing to have done at Apple would have been to offer him a job on the spot and brought him into the fold sharpish. Then, whatever the origins of iOS5's Wi-Fi Sync, they wouldn't have another shit-stain against them from Hughs being pissed, and they could boast that when they see talent, they try to get them into the fold to bring fresh blood, etc, etc to Apple.

    It would save a lot of hassle, IMO.

  50. Danny 5
    Thumb Up

    you know what?

    i am thoroughly enjoying this renewed "MAC vs PC" flamewars.

    I'm finding a lot of fanbois attacking me verbally when i put down Apple again (which is just too funny to not do), it's just like old times. haven't been able to seperate the trolls from the genuine fanbois yet, but that's a matter of time.

    trolling for Microsoft, MAN that's good fun!

    been too long since i did this, forgot how much of a laugh it is.

  51. JeepBoy
    Stop

    Move along, nothing to see here...

    Story so far:

    Apple behaves with questionable morality (yes,yes, it wasn't patented, trademarked, or copyrighted - who cares - morally it stinks).

    World complains that Apple (bizzarely painted as some altruistic commune by many) behaves as a commercial enterprise trying to maximise their market share and make a buck out of an unprotected idea that they've seen.

    Apple Fanbois complain that their champion could never do wrong, and there must be a misunderstanding.

    Vitriol is swapped.

    No minds are changed.

    World continues spinning.

  52. The Fuzzy Wotnot
    Happy

    Superb!

    Everyday there's another good punch-up amongst the fanbois, that's why I love The Reg! Always brightens up my lunchtime break.

    Now when are we going to get a popcorn icon just for use on these sorts of stories?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Jeepboy

      Erm... first paragraph is bollox. This guy was not the first person to think of syncing over wifi.

      The rest is probably pretty much spot-on, except I don't know anyone - eve the 'fanbois' who think that Apple is perfect. The only people I see stating that are the rabid 'anti-fanbois' who use it as a stick to smack 'fanbois' with.

  53. osd775
    Stop

    isync icon plus wifi icon in iphone icon shape?

    seems fairly obvious to me alas start the witch hunt!

  54. cloudgazer

    Somewhat disingenuous

    In order to modify the iPhone's iTunes library he almost certainly had to use some non-public API calls. As far as I'm aware they only added public functions to access the iTunes library in OS 4 and even then it was only read access. 'iPod library access lets your application play a user’s songs, audio books, and audio podcasts. The API design makes basic playback very simple while also supporting advanced searching and playback control.'. Use of such functions was always going to result in Apple refusing to circulate his app, so there was no point acting all surprised about it. All apps that use non public API calls get rejected.

    By the same token, if it came to court, Apple would argue that the reason that they had kept those APIs private was because they were reserved for future iOS level improvements. That essentially his app broke their copyright by utilizing their code without permission. In fact they could probably have sued him over his app on cydia.

    If I'm wrong about this by all means somebody post a link to the public API that allows modification of the iTunes library on iOS.

  55. Dan Wilkinson

    This guy should sue...

    http://www.androidzoom.com/android_applications/tools/wifi-sync-screen_rizq.html

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    This is where software patents are *useful*

    They would have protected the little guy from having his idea poached by Apple - and in the US there's a 12-month grace period for filing, so in a nice twist he could have funded it from the sales to Jailbreakers.

    Moral for the little guy - protect your innovative one-trick ponies.

    / It's a corporate world, play by the rules.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Except

      Wireless sync has been in place for a long long time, maybe even before this student was born!

      I know at least Palm did it.

      So lots of prior art, maybe even a few patents that Apple had to license to actually get it off the ground.

  57. sisk Silver badge

    ******ing Apple

    And people wonder why I refuse to develop for iOS. Bad enough that they reject apps without any real basis for doing so, but here they've clearly stolen (no other word fits) a valuable idea. He should sue.

    This is pretty similar to when Ford ripped off the guy who invented intermittant windshield wipers so there'l probably a precadent.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pint

      Erm... No

      The guy who invented the intermittant wash wiper applied for and held a patent. The app developer had no such patent or any other form of legal protection. Yes Apple behaved badly, but not illegally - so there are no grounds to sue, as others have said.

      And even if there were, it's not a path I'd be keen to follow. :)

      Despite holding a clear patent, and the obvious theft of his invention (he'd demo'ed it to the car companies the year before they all released models with intermittant w-w) the case against Ford et al took more than a dozen years, cost a fortune, the guys marriage, and the stress may have contributed to his death. He spent $10M to take the case through court, and won $30M in settlement. I'm sure his heirs were delighted!

  58. JeeBee
    WTF?

    He should get over it...

    Well WiFi Sync was done on other platforms beforehand, so the idea isn't new.

    The icon is a WiFi symbol with a Sync symbol around it, and indeed it looks like a progression of the Apple Mac OS X iSync icon.

    He's made a few hundred thousand on Cydia from his application which will set him up nicely for life.

    His source code wasn't used, his binary wasn't used, and almost certainly the app was reviewed by a very different team in a different office to the developers that created Apple's WiFi Sync.

    Does his automatically launch and sync when plugged in to recharge from a power outlet?

    I'm sorry for him that his money-making application is now defunct because its functionality is now within the operating system itself, but that's what happens. It was a major demand from the users since launch, and even Zune users laughed that it wasn't available on the iPhone/iPod when it was on their device.

    The only sad thing is that his app wasn't allowed on the official store originally.

  59. maclovinz
    Mushroom

    It's....

    ....shit like this that pisses me the fuck off.

  60. nathan.f77

    Meh.

    I'm usually the first person to criticize Apple for their shortcomings, but this time they've done absolutely nothing wrong. Of course they had already planned sync over wifi from the get go. Of course it has to be part of the native OS, and of course they're not going to let a third-party application handle such a huge feature. They used none of his code, and its absolute rubbish to say that the idea is original and unique.

    I do feel sorry for the guy, but he had a good run.

  61. Dropper

    No code was downloaded?

    umm, if it's not copyright infringment to reverse engineer an app and distribute it as their own product, under that argument I can make my own Macs and iPods and sell them as my own product. I won't have violated the copyrights held by Apple becaus they didn't download any code to my systems.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Dropper

      Erm... idiot?

      Of course it's not copyright infingement to reverse-engineer software.

      What has reverse-engineering software got to do with selling macs and ipods and code downloading?

    2. Dan Wilkinson
      WTF?

      haha! Classic.

      This one's almost worth framing.

      Are you really suggesting that the engineers at Apple, you know the ones who wrote the operating system themselves, and iTunes, and it's APIs and such like, would have to reverse engineer some students hack in order to get wireless sync working? That somehow, the reason it has not been present until now was because they couldn't work out how to do it without the assistance of said students crappy app?

      You Sir, are a genius. Are you sure you are not AManFromMars?

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Irrational Fanboys...

    Microsoft - They're on to us. Let's just take this feature out at least until it goes to court.

    Apple - Read the fine print, noobs.

    Google - We're just trying to serve the users and do what's best for them. That's not evil, right? I mean we have data to show that people clicked on the first link more than the second link when we made Google CloneApp (Beta) the first link on all search result pages. And we only moved it to the first link because people liked CloneApp (Beta) so much. Not to mention OriginalWebApp violated our guidelines, so we had to cancel their adsense account and move them to page 12.... Wait. What? Antitrust? ... OriginalWebApp is a puppet of Microsoft! If anyone tries to tell you anything about OriginalWebApp they are working for Microsoft's propaganda team to spread misinformation... Somebody notify the media and the blogs to let them inform everyone how OriginalWebApp is inferior to CloneApp (Beta) in all respects.

    Unfortunately "innovative" tends to describe brand image more often than it does anything meaningful. However, if you look at how the top three "innovative" tech companies respond after getting caught from a neutral point of view, then maybe your opinion of each company will change. Bonus points if you can identify times where Google used misinformation, bloggers, and the media to make the other guys seem less "innovative" when threatened by an antitrust investigation.

    </troll>

    I won't tell you to get used companies ripping off the little guy or try to justify anticompetitive acts on behalf of a company that doesn't need the marketing help. It is actually possible to change things if you stop worshiping ultra powerful companies long enough to prevent them from locking you into dictatorship-like markets. No matter how open they claim to be or what they say regulation will do to the economy, they're actually hurting both the open source movement and the free market while neither side takes notice.

  63. Levente Szileszky
    Thumb Down

    Out come the freaks...

    ...who will defend their rotten company no matter what - witness the downvotes every time someone criticizing this scumbag called Apple.

    Was (Not Was): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wguF9N0x9do

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Levente

      Yep - namecalling is always the best way to win an argument. It's usually only used when you actually have no argument.

  64. Alan Denman

    So the kid no doubt lost a few million bucks in easy earnings.

    And million of willing buyers were locked in a dark cupboard until uncle Steve says Yes.

  65. The Infamous Grouse
    WTF?

    Lazy journalism

    I know I'm risking the death of a thousand downvotes with this one but, try as I might, I can't let it go without comment.

    A lot of folk, here and elsewhere, are bandying around words like "stolen code" and "reverse engineered". Show me some evidence -- any evidence -- that Apple has "reverse engineered" Greg Hughes' code and I'll concede that we may have a proper story. In the meantime all we have is Mr. Hughes crying his tale of woe to any media outlet that'll listen.

    But what makes this case so special? Computing history is littered with legacy third-party applications that became superfluous when their features were later implemented in the host OS. I don't recall the mainstream media dedicating so much as a column inch to any of those stories.

    More recently Microsoft has made available, free of charge, several products that stamp quite heavily on the toes of the multi-billion dollar Windows anti-virus industry. Only the history of antitrust cases has kept these programs from being offered as part of Windows Update; once installed they are, for all intents and purposes, part of Windows. By doing this Microsoft have actually been celebrated in the technology media, for finally allowing users access to long-needed and long-wanted features without needing to pay third-parties.

    Sound familiar? Microsoft does something and they're told they're finally getting things right. Apple does the same and they get accused of plagiarism.

    No, there are only two reasons why this story is running. The first is because of the icon similarity which, as others have already pointed out, is meaningless. Any facility to synchronise over WiFi was almost inevitably going to be called WiFi Sync, and its icon was always going to be an amalgam of the WiFi logo and the sync symbol. It's not even news.

    The second reason is that it's easy to spin this tale into the archetypal David versus Goliath story so beloved of the media, with big bad Apple on one side and the plucky British developer on the other. Easy and lazy.

    As for Greg Hughes being "completely shocked" at Apple's latest revelation, perhaps the stress of his exams has dulled his memory? Only last year he was quoted as admitting that "he never really expected the wi-fi sync app to be approved because, in effect, he was messing with Apple's own technology." (the words of interviewer Rory Cellan-Jones). And that he "thought it was a bit of a grey area. It doesn't break specific rules, but it's something that Apple would prefer to do themselves." (the words of Greg Hughes).

    http://bbc.in/bg2ldl

    He can't have it both ways. Either he knew Apple would be working on this in-house and would eventually incorporate and release it, or he was completely shocked at the announcement. I know which one I'd vote for.

    The simple truth is that Mr. Hughes' year-old cash-cow -- which if the message boards are to be believed didn't work properly for a great many users anyway -- is now deceased. And rather than accept it and move on he's decided to play the victim, ably assisted by lazy journalists keen to generate quick link-bait and stir up yet another Apple flame war on the comments pages. At last count there were 133 responses on here and 11 on The Telegraph. Forgive my cynicism, but that's a lot of clicks and eyeballs for very little effort.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Fanboi much?

      nuff said.

      1. The Infamous Grouse
        Meh

        Realist very

        Hardly. I don't have the disposable income to be a 'fan' of any company. I buy kit that works most efficiently and cost-effectively for the things I need to do. Some of that kit is Apple, most of it isn't.

        Apple makes some nice items, but many of them are still too pricey for what they are. And even those Apple products I do like often have features or implementations that are less than ideal. I have mentioned a couple on these forums.

        I will concede that if I hadn't already owned an iPod touch I may have waited for the tablet market to mature rather than becoming an early iPad adopter. But having most of my media already in iTunes and a bunch of compatible applications and accessories already paid for meant it made perfect sense for me to go for the "big iPod".

        That may be enough to label me a fanboi in the eyes of some, but opining that Apple have done nothing wrong over this whole Wi-Fi Sync business certainly shouldn't. Anyone with an objective eye should be able to see that Apple have clearly not "ripped off" anything.

    2. johnnymotel

      it could be argued...

      that his icon is deliberately designed to not 'infringe' on Apple's icons set. Notice how the sync part is offset. He must have thought hard when he created his icon and decided to make one that could be accused of blatantly copying any of Apple's icon set.

  66. Sam Therapy
    WTF?

    The "Unsolicited stuff belongs to us" claim is bogus

    It should not stand in English law.

    A statement of Terms and Conditions, a contract or any other legally binding agreement cannot take away the laws of the land. If something is yours, it's yours, unless you make a specific, explicit declaration to give the property to someone else. I believe (IANAL) a very strong case can be made that no such declaration was given, nor was consent implied.

    Of course, as someone else pointed out, Apple have a lot of money.

    I hope the guy gets a good lawyer and sues their (Apple's) collective asses off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Sam

      Sues for what?

      Wifi sync is not a new idea. It has been done before - years before.

      So... he's going to sue under what law exactly?

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    So Wait......

    He never came up with the idea....it has been possible on a number of devices for a couple of year....

    He never came up with the logo....its a composite...

    The name WifiSync is just just a description of the function.....

    He never submitted sourcecode and his binary was not copied.....so no copyright infringment....

    I am not seeing the legal path.....i am not actually seeing that apple 'stole' anything.

    At best......they used the idea to create their own code.....again...an idea that was not created by this young chap....it has been around a while....

    His best bet is to ride the 'impressed' card...get his CV to them and get a good job once he graduates.

  68. Watashi

    Restriction of trade

    I'd have thought he'd have a much better case for suing Apple under restriction of trade laws. It seems plausible that Apple rejected this App purely on the basis of not wanting to allow someone to make money so they could use the name and logo for themselves.

    I think it's also worth pointing out a very important legal principle that applies in the UK. Contracts are not automatically binding. If a contract breaches existing legislation it is invalid, even if both parties agree to the contract. Apple may think they're legally covered by their agreement with the submitter of an app to allow them full use of the code, but this is only true AFTER the case has gone to court and the Judge has decided in Apple's favour. A Judge would, if existing laws are such, be within his remit to declare that Apple's contract was an abuse of their position and stood in the way of trading activities already protected by law. Until a Judge makes a decision, the contract is in a state of legal uncertainty in the UK. Ironically, had the student not sold his app another way and remained impoverished he may have qualified for legal aid. As it is, he'd have to spend his well-earned cash taking on Apple and he may simply run out of money before a final decision was made.

    This case (and others like it) show that the British legal system really hasn't caught up with the digital age. It should be such that the successful submission of an app to the App store grants Apple the right to have exclusivity in its sale, but that the copyright to the source code is retained by the originator - this would bring it in line with other creative works such as music or literature.

    One thing, though - if Apple have used his code in any way, they will not be able to patent it.

  69. Scott Broukell
    Coat

    Ever ....

    had that syncing feeling.

  70. Jemma Silver badge
    FAIL

    nsfw - and a little out of date..

    But apt all the same...

    http://www.thebestpageintheuniverse.net/c.cgi?u=iphone

    Wheres the flaming fanboi icon?

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those Crazy Kids....

    We're not talking about a revolutionary OS here, or a new file system that can simultaneously index the entire internet and make you lunch whilst it sings soothingly to your kids. We are talking about a guy who has taken several ideas that have existed for years and packaged them together in an app for a phone that he is now claiming is completely his idea...Apple may have "stolen" his app, but he stole their business model.

  72. George 24

    Try using one of crapple icon

    Crapple would sue the pants off anyone using just the icon from their os or app, let alone the idea or technology. iHypocrite

  73. Ruud Noorhoff
    Happy

    translation for fanbois

    APPLE PILFERS RIPS OFF STUDENT'S REJECTED IPHONE APP

    translation:

    PARASITE FREELOADING IPHONE APP OBSOLETED BY APPLE

    or maybe

    DO-THE-OBVIOUS-BEFORE-APPLE-DOES-IT BUSINESS MODEL NOT SUSTAINABLE

  74. expectdelay
    WTF?

    dishonest post

    Its pretty obvious that both the developer and apple themselves merged the airport signal strength logo and the mobileme sync icon to create their "new" logos. and for the author of the article to state that apple got the idea to allow itunes to sync over wifi is idiotic. every single person who has an iphone and uses itunes came up with this idea ...

  75. Metz

    Lets not feel too sorry for the lad...

    ... he worked hard, produced good results, and managed to rack up a turnover in the region of £1/2m ... not bad for a school kid. The fact that Apple tripped him up on the way to the gold medal shouldn't take away from his acheivements.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    To Mr WiFi Sync author

    The question is simple: Did you register the logo and/or the name of your app to IPO internationally?

    - Yes? Then your "shock" is justified.

    - No? Then you have no right at all on that name or logo, plain and simple.

  77. Scott Broukell
    Coat

    Ever .....

    get that syncing feeling (groan icon)

  78. Andus McCoatover

    Mr. Apple?

    Meet Mr. Newton.

  79. cloudgazer

    the end of the stick you have hold of, would be the wrong one

    The guy posting the 'unsolicited stuff' post a while back was a) joking and b) talking about their unsolicited feedback form - not their app submissions policy.

    If you send feedback to a firm by say putting a suggestion into their suggestion box, you can't subsequently sue them for implementing your suggestion - so I'd say that they're on fairly secure ground there.

  80. PsychicMonkey
    Pint

    interesting points of view on display

    When Microsoft do soemthing like this, say including a browser as part of the install, r adding a feature that basically kills another product they are abusing a domiant position. When Apple do it "it's there OS they can do what they want"

    It seem sto me that Apple get away with a lot that other big software companies don't though Apple are now pretty much bigger than Microsoft maybe they'll have to put up with people looking closer.

    On a side note, the guy got asked for his CV, getting a job at Apple straight out of Uni doesn't seem that bad to me! (assuming he gets a job...)

  81. Rambo Tribble

    Old tricks

    Remember, in the 1980s Apple Computer tried to claim the GUI as their own product, while it was Xerox's PARC labs which actually developed it. Apple was buried in court. Hopefully, the same fate awaits them here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Rambo

      You have a very strange memory of events.

      Try doing some reading.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Trollface

    Pretty sure...

    ....that I've seen several stories about how Apple have either sued or attempted to sue others for breach of a "concept", and this sounds quite similar. I actually never agree with being able to patent a concept in the first place, only a physical design. After all, if I had the "concept" of a touchscreen many many years ago, would that mean I could sue anyone who designed one?

    Unless Apple have actually stolen code, I don't think he has a leg to stand on. The icon, as someone else suggested, is just a mix of two already established industry icons so cannot really be claimed as his intellectual property.

    I really wanted to bash Apple when I started writing this post, but I can't really see a reason upon reflection.

  83. LogicalConsideration

    Stop and Think

    I'm sure Apple has intellectual property transgressions in its past and present, but I just don't see this as one of them.

    First of all, this guy didn't come up with a completely new idea for a service. I've had an iPhone for nearly 2 years, now, and AT LEAST since then, iPhone owners have been complaining about the absence of this rather obvious feature.

    Second, he did it as an app, rather than building it into the iOS. That's like you inventing a car engine chip that boosts horsepower and then complaining when, instead of buying the chip from you, Chevy redesigns its engine with a turbocharger to provide more horsepower.

    Third, I'm pretty sure it is more tricky to integrate features into an OS than provide them as apps. Tinkering with the OS, you run the risk of messing up some other feature while adding the new feature. It is almost certain that Apple was already working on this feature long before they heard from this guy.

    There is slightly more substance to the logo issue, but only on its face. They are similar. But still, the two arrows chasing each other have been the universally recognized symbol for syncing since at least Palm Pilot days. From Wiki, "The Wi-Fi Alliance is a trade association that promotes Wireless LAN technology and certifies products if they conform to certain standards of interoperability. Not every IEEE 802.11-compliant device is submitted for certification to the Wi-Fi Alliance, sometimes because of costs associated with the certification process. The lack of the Wi-Fi logo does not necessarily imply a device is incompatible with Wi-Fi devices." YOu have to go through the certification process in order to be able to legally use the Wi-Fi symbol.

    I would bet a jillion bucks that Mr. Hughes did not submit his software for certification (if you can even get software certified). Therefore, he has no right to use the Wi-Fi symbol at all. If you don't have the right to use the underlying trademarked graphic, you do not have a legal right to combine it with something else and claim the new symbol as yours.

  84. David Simpson 1
    Facepalm

    D'oh

    I'm usually the first to bash Apple, but really he added arrows to Apple's WIFI icon so what we they expected to do differently, since Android and Zune already do WIFI syncing it was hardly his original idea, it was coming to iOS sooner of later.

    Sounds like he made a fat wad of cash out of it, and I'd say putting out press like this has made sure his CV goes in the bin over at Apple too.

  85. Charles Manning
    WTF?

    Bloody obvious

    Let's not get too emotional about the David vs Goliath story.

    That iOS would at some point support Wifi and even cellular syncing is bloody obvious. In fact it is quite amazing that this was not supported in the first version of the software.

    And the logo... Well that's pretty obvious too. Sync + Wifi symbol. It is really hard to come up with anything else that would make a good logo for this function.

    And no, I'm not an Apple fanboi, but irrational reporting gets my goat.

  86. Ari 1

    stating the obvious

    Syncing over wifi. hmmmmm.... what would be an obvious name for that? Wifi Sync? YUP...

    What about an icon?

    Hey, I know, what about taking the old "sync" logo (which was used for syncing all kinds of devices to a Mac) and putting a wifi symbol in the centre? What? The "sync" logo was used many years earlier by Palm and others? Then it's a generic symbol for syncing. The wifi symbol is a generic symbol for wifi.

    Ohhhh, some clever kid combined those obvious symbols and coloured it blue? Well tough titty.

    This is an obvious and requested feature (an idea) and ANYONE can make it without any moral qualms. The icon is as generic as they get. Even so, Apple's version looks more like their own old sync icon than this kids icon.

    Move along, nothing to see here.

  87. Geodextro

    APPLE DID NOT COPY ANYONE

    READ THIS: The icon he used was copying THREE apple trademarks - isync, airport and the default blue icon included in xcode. The program he wrote the application in was written by apple - the two symbols he used on his icon had already been in use BY APPLE. And the blue icon he used is a default icon that comes in xcode (the app development program that apple gives out) if anything apple could sue him for selling an app that used their trademarks... This story is bogus and anyone who has ever developed apps knows it.

    You cant make a program using another co. trademarks then when they make something using their trademarks get mad that they used their trademarks... it makes nooo sense. Anyway... This story is playing on peoples ignorance of the app development process AND of apples past products.

  88. mspritch

    So the rule is...

    if you write a genuinely useful app, which Apple then rejects for some whimsical reason or other, release it on Cydial and PATENT IT.

    May be worth patenting now anyway. According to Wikipedia the US follows first-to-invent not first-to-file, so even if Apple beat him to it their application should get thrown out.

  89. DMHagwood

    I don't see the problem.

    I'm sure Apple was working on this before this guy submitted the app. I mean look at that building that the servers are in. You don't just throw something like that up in a matter of a few months. They didn't rip off anyone. Like it or not, they must have been working on this longer than this guy could have coded that App. It's not a supprise that someone would have wanted to set up the devices to sync wirelessly but if Apple had a different method that they wanted to use to sync wirelessly, they wouldn't approve the app especially since it gets in to the core of how the system funcions. As we can see now, they do have a different approach in how they're moving the data between devices. I can't imagine the two ideas meshing with each other.

    1. cloudgazer

      except

      He can't patent wireless syncing as there is humungous amounts of prior art - my nokia 8800 had it iirc.

      If he had indeed created the idea of the wireless sync he could perhaps have patented and could now claim license fees from world+dog, but he didn't and he can't.

      As for the rejection, there's nothing whimsical about it. Apps which modify the iTunes library break the rules. They do so either by breaking the security sandbox or by using private API functions or both. Any app that modified the iTunes DB on an iOS device, even if it did something entirely banal would be rejected.

  90. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  91. Big Bear
    FAIL

    @The Infamous Grouse

    I find your comparison with MSE misleading at best. The big difference is that you (the owner of the expensive piece of kit) has a choice to use MSE or pay for Norton, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, or to use a freeware suite like Avast, Avira, AVG, etc.

    Here, you are prohibited from obtaining the functionality until almight Steve Gods says that you can. Not even the famous Internet Explorer bundling case matches, because even though IE came installed, you could still install another browser afterwards, whereas here, the walled garden does not let you... To go back to your comparison, it would be like MSE being released for Win7, but there being no other security software being allowed to be installed by MS since XP came out.

    1. The Infamous Grouse

      Walled garden

      I will concede that it can be difficult to compare the behaviour of Apple with that of other companies because of their 'walled garden' approach.

      But in this case you have to remember that Greg Hughes' implementation of WiFi Sync is only available to those who have jailbroken their devices. These users are already outside of the walled garden, and so do have a choice. Indeed if Apple's implementation of wireless sync turns out to be buggy or slow or inferior for whatever reason, satisfied customers of Mr. Hughes may even choose to continue using his solution.

      His problem is that he's unlikely to make new revenue from his program because, once new users have iOS5, they will have no need to seek out an alternative way of wireless syncing.

  92. Dropper

    Moral of the story?

    Don't create apps for Apple if you want to earn money and don't have a six figure bank account to protect your work. Because regardless of whether you submitted your code to Apple or not, stealing an application is still theft. The typical Apple apologist argument appears to be it's fine to steal someone's work if you haven't been sent the source code or if you don't think it's very good. Equally it appears to be fine to steal someone's work if someone else could do the same thing. As I am capable of writing an OS, I hereby claim iOS is mine, I shall be using it on my own device - which after reading these comments appears to be perfectly legal because someone has written an portable OS before and Apple didn't send me the source code.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Dropper

      Apple's App Store is probably the best way to earn money programming for portable devices at the mo - see lots of other stories here.

      Stealing an application? This guy cannot be said to have invented wireless syncing. At the most it can be said that he came up with working(?) code before Apple did. So the fuck what?

      I'll repeat it for you dumbass - he did not invent wireless syncing.

      The rest of yourpost is pure rubbish.

  93. Tadz
    Alert

    Missing the point || copyright

    It appears to me from the comments that some readers are both missing the point and getting too picky about what constitutes copyright infringement. Apple, like a number of high profile tech companies--toss in Amazon and MS--has a well established record of being very aggressive with regard to copyright infringement, and they don't hesitate even when the issue isn't strictly breaking the law. They have not balked at suing (or threatening to) over conceptual issues more than once. I also didn't get the impression Hughes was suing Apple over this. Under the circumstances, it looks perfectly plausible that Apple got the idea for the app from Hughes' submission and it would be nice if they gave him credit for it. If the roles were reversed you can be sure Apple would be all over him.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Tadz

      Yeeees... Apple got the idea of wireless syncing from this guy. No one else has ever had that idea before. No one else has had phones/PDAs doing anything like this before... nooooooo.....

    2. cloudgazer
      Thumb Down

      erm actually it's you

      who doesn't seem to understand the issue here. For starters there is a difference between Copyright infringement, Patent infringement and Trademark infringement.

      Second, Apple LOST the big look&feel copyright infringement suit against MS, just as Lotus lost against Borland. L&F lawsuits have pretty much fallen by the wayside, which is why Apple are attacking HTC on patent grounds.

      This guy doesn't have a TM, doesn't have a Patent and can only claim a vague L&F case on the icon which he would lose given Apple's previously existing icons. He could try to claim TM infringement without a registered trademark but that would be extremely difficult given the generic nature of the name. The failure to register would likely be interpreted as a failure to defend his mark

      So from an IP law perspective he's only left with the option of a copyright infringement claim, which would require him to demonstrate Apple was using his source-code.

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    Innocuous Idea Solicitations

    Big companies are constantly soliciting ideas from it's user groups disguised as contests.

    What people need to realize is that their ideas are valuable and often worth more than they

    realize. Big companies are shamelessly exploiting small time inventers and others in this

    way. There really is very little recourse for individuals considering the expense required to

    hire lawyers for the long duration needed to get a legal decision.

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    coincedence

    Quite right, the idea that iOS 5 was thought about after this lad submitted his wifi app in May 2010 is a joke.

  96. D. M
    Mushroom

    You cannot argue with brainless fanboy/girl

    It is always perfect fine for Apple to steal from others, after all, Apple invented the universe and everything it contains. Therefore, there is no such thing as Apple stealing from someone else. To fanboy/girl, Apple is the institute of God as Apple is run by God himself. S. Jobs is God, I got it.

    If the situation was reversed, we will see how quick iSheep would call for death for this poor guy, and Apple's army of lawyers smash him into oblivion.

  97. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    BOFH

    I think it's about time the BOFH visited 1 Infinite Loop...

    Maybe he is running the Apps department, it's his kind scheme?

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