DishLoc News

2009/11/05

How to get rid of Competition 101:

Filed under: Uncategorized — John @ 20:32

It seems that our competition, DP Technologies Ltd, seems to think that we are infringing on their rights.  Here’s their complaint, sent to me by Apple, requesting me to make whatever changes necessary:

The disputed developer copied design elements and functionality from our app DishPointer AR Pro and DishPointer Maps. In particular, showing the clarke belt and satellites on the camera preview is propriatary to us for which we are filing a patent. Showing a street map and displaying alignment lines on top of that map is also propriatery to us. Please remove infringing app from store.

Lets start with the first point. ‘copied design elements and functionality’.  First of all, we submitted our app through iTunes Connect a day or two before theirs was released, so we couldn’t have copied design elements. (Unless you count the color of the clarke belt?  Sorry, sky=blue, grass=green.  The color with the best contrast for both is red.)  Second… copied functionality? Really?  Two apps on the app store can’t have similar functionality?  Tell that to all the flashlight apps, video poker apps, <insert game here> apps.  If our app looked and behaved exactly like theirs, perhaps they’d have a case.  However, ours has more features and works BETTER.

Showing the clarke belt and satellites on the camera preview is propriatary to them.  Nevermind that they spelled proprietary wrong, but are they really saying that nobody else can show satellite positions on the camera preview?  This is a relatively simple calculation you can find in many math books and the web.  The clarke belt is simply an extension, showing where the clarke belt is located.

They state they ‘are filing a patent’.  If they had a patent (and I hope the USPO is a bit smarter then allowing something so basic to be patented) they might have a reason for us to change our app.  As it is, we can just as easily say ‘we are filing a patent’.  Until a patent is granted, this kind of wording is simply rather lame scare tactics.

Next comes ‘showing a street map and displaying alignment lines is also proprietery to us’. (Spelled it wrong two different ways? Really?)  No claim of a patent here, maybe because its done on many other web sites?

I sent Apple an email back telling them how ludicrous this is, but unfortunately, they say they will not arbitrate, and we’ll have to work it out between ourselves.  I’m hoping before they just take our app off, they’ll actually look at the facts.

I suppose I should be flattered they feel so threatened by our application.  Perhaps instead of using underhanded methods to remove their competition, they should do it the old fashioned way: Make a better product!

Anyone have any ideas?

11 Comments »

  1. Hire a lawyer, and let him figure it out. He’ll probably have to do research on the patent filling and things like that. Sue them for libel, racketeering, etc (whatever rocks your boat). At least make them provide evidence of their claims or ask Apple to have them provide the evidence. In the worst case, change the colors of the clarke belt, to make it look “different”.

    Comment by Guillermo — 2009/11/06 @ 17:19

  2. I took a look at the ‘Dishpointer Maps’ application they say you’re infringing on. The only thing they have in common is using google maps to view your location. The location marker is different, the line is a different color, and you handle multiple satellites, where it seems they only handle one, and you have to type in the satellite yourself? You can both search for an address, but that’s a google maps thing, and there’s no way to make that very different between apps. The UI portion is considerably different than DishLoc. There average rating is 2.5 stars, but the funny thing is that the 5 star reviews seem more like ads, just like they do on the Dishpointer AR Pro. Guess they gave out a few free apps?

    Comment by Steve — 2009/11/06 @ 21:50

  3. Actually, hiring a lawyer is exactly what they would want you to do – I would recommend NOT hiring a lawyer yet.

    Most patent threats / infringements are all about jacking up your legal costs and making it ‘not worth your while’ to pursue, since you’d rather not drop thousands of dollars defending an app that will earn you the same number of thousands of dollars (never mind what it cost to develop). Unfortunately, it’s often not about who’s right, but rather about who is willing or able to throw more money at the lawyers.

    The best approach is to match them step for step as you are able but not to escalate. I suggest you send them a counter-claim (complete with good spelling) indicating your well-reasoned and patient arguments. If you don’t have a good argument on a particular issue (e.g. if they really do have proprietary rights to the Clarke Belt on the camera preview), it’s best not to mention it at all in your response – it’s hard to notice something that’s not there. Just deal with what you can deal with well and hope that your bluff calls their bluster.

    Good luck!

    Comment by James Teitsma — 2009/11/07 @ 09:00

  4. E-mail is a very, very weak way of communication. Call Apple, and talk with someone as high up as you can. Or send them a letter/fax.

    Comment by Jonathan — 2009/11/07 @ 21:28

  5. Thanks for your comments guys.

    Unfortunately, for most things apple (developer wise anyway) the only communication is through email or feedback forms. In fact, when I responded to this originally (to apple) they told me they won’t arbitrate and I’ll have to work it out with DP Tech. (No response from them when I emailed them though.)

    Guess I may have to wait it out, and hopefully Apple will require proof of infringement before they do the actual take-down.

    Comment by John — 2009/11/07 @ 21:42

  6. I would say that pointing out that your app went live first is not asking them to arbitrate but rather a fairly simple, common-sense argument.

    Comment by Kris Warkentin — 2009/11/08 @ 03:56

  7. Hey Kris,

    I might have worded that wrong. We submitted our app for approval a couple of days before their app was approved. Our app wasn’t out first. I was saying that since their app wasn’t released yet, we couldn’t have copied their design elements and functionality. (We would have had no change to look at and play with their app to do any copying.)

    That being said, apparently they had a video on youtube a month before they released their app, so they could claim we copied that. (It only shows the augmented view.) I never saw this before I had my ideas, but not having seen something is hard to prove. (Its on youtube? How could you not have seen it?) If you look at the screenshots of the two though, the only similar things are that we both use the camera in the iphone (not sure how you can avoid that if you’re making an augmented reality app, of which there are many now) and that we both display the clarke belt in red. They did not invent the clarke belt, nor the calculation to draw the clarke belt. They did theirs in red, but all of the rest of my UI was in red, so all I did was remain consistent. They mark satellites as red dots on the clarke belt whereas we put little satellite icons in the correct places. The clarke belt was actually not even in the first version and was only added as a user request. If we were going to copy his app, we would have copied it in the first version, as its a very simple calculation/drawing. If you look at the apps in question, you can see that most of the UI isn’t similar at all, and they have different functionality on top of the basic ‘point it at the sky and see where your satellites are’.

    I guess the real question here is if you see an app that you don’t think lives up to an ideas potential, (there are multiple applications on the app store that help you point your dish in one way or another) should you have to wait until the original developer improves their app or is it ok to write your own? I needed a dish location app, didn’t see a decent one, saw that apple was releasing an sdk that would allow an augmented one, and so I wrote one. I wasn’t happy when I found out I had competition, but there’s not much I could do but make sure mine was better.

    Please don’t tell me that there are 100,000 apps with unique ideas on the app store…

    Comment by John — 2009/11/08 @ 07:54

  8. Customer Service
    Apple Store Customer Service

    To view the most up-to-date status and make changes to your Apple Online Store order, visit online Order Status. You can also contact Apple Store Customer Service at 1-800-676-2775 or visit online Help for more information.
    North American Corporate Contacts
    United States

    * Apple Enterprise Sales
    (877) 412-7753
    * Apple Financial Services
    (800) APPLE-LN (800-277-5356)
    * Apple Government Sales
    (877) 412-7753
    * Apple Promotions/Rebates
    (877) 4-APL-PROMO (877-427-5776)
    * Apple Public Relations
    (408) 974-2042
    * Apple Software Upgrade Center
    (888) 840-8433
    * Apple Store (Consumer and Education Individuals)
    (800) MY-APPLE (800-692-7753)
    * Apple Store (Education Institutions)
    (800) 800-2775
    * Apple Store (Small Business)
    (800) 854-3680
    * Reseller Referral (Resellers, Trainers, Consultants)
    (800) 538-9696

    Canada

    * Apple Store (Consumer and Education Individuals)
    (800) MY-APPLE (800-692-7753)

    Mexico

    * Apple Store (Consumer and Education Individuals)
    001-800-MY-APPLE (001-800-692-7753)
    * Apple Store (Small Business)
    001-800-692-7753

    Comment by Jonathan — 2009/11/08 @ 11:51

  9. I’ve always thought software patents are one of the dumbest things on earth. They can’t beat you in quality, so they try legally. Good luck!

    Comment by Héctor — 2009/11/09 @ 06:38

  10. Personally I would claim infringement with DP technologies application so that Apple would be forced to remove thier application as well. At the very least it would force DP Tech to open the door of communication. As it stands now they really have given themseleves a monopoly. I’m angry for you and hope this gets rectified soon.

    Don

    Comment by Don — 2009/11/09 @ 06:54

  11. You’ll want to add a facebook button to your blog. I just bookmarked this article, although I had to complete it manually. Simply my $.02 :)

    - Robson

    Comment by rachat credit — 2010/12/16 @ 07:56

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

*

Spam protection by WP Captcha-Free

Copyright (2009) by Cadabra Corp.