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some developer asking me to remove keyword

sparksosparkso Posts: 550Registered Users @ @ @
So I received an app store notice from a developer (attached at the bottom):

Funny thing is their app (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/split-shape-mextures-effects/id1028022975?mt=8) only just came out last month while my app had been around since for a few years.

I am sure many other developers got the same "complaint" since if you search split shape on the app store, many photo cropping editing app pops up.


Dear Sir or Madam,

On 8/28/2015, we received a notice from Stefan Sidoruc ("Complainant") that Complainant believes your apps listed below infringe its intellectual property rights. In particular, Complainant believes you are infringing its keywords. Please see their comments below.

You can reach Complainant through Stefan Sidoruc (email: 99sportsteam@gmail.com), copied on this email. Please exchange correspondence directly with Complainant.

We look forward to receiving written assurance that your applications do not infringe Complainant's rights, or that the parties are taking steps to promptly resolve the matter. Please keep us apprised of your progress.

Please note that during the course of this matter:

1. Correspondence to Apple must include the reference number noted above in the subject line and copy the other party. All correspondence sent to Apple may be shared with the other party.

2. Written assurance of rights may include confirmation that your applications do not infringe Complainant's rights, an express authorization from Complainant, or other evidence acceptable to Apple, and should include documentation wherever possible.

3. Should you choose to remove your applications (for example, while you make any necessary changes), visit iTunes Connect at http://itunesconnect.apple.com and access your apps in the Manage Your Application module.

Click on the "Rights and Pricing" button from the App Summary Page,
Click on the "Deselect All" button to uncheck all App Store territories, and
Click on the "Save Changes" button

4. Developers with a history of allegations of repeat infringement, or those who misrepresent facts to Apple and/or the Complainant are at risk of termination from the Developer Program.

5. Failure to respond to the Complainant or to take steps toward resolving a dispute may lead to removal of the app(s) at issue as in violation of the App Store Review Guidelines and/or the iOS Developer Program License Agreement. Please keep Apple apprised of your progress.

Thank you for your immediate attention.

Comments from Complainant: Please remove the following keywords from your app that uses our app name: Split Shape
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Replies

  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,618New Users @ @ @ @ @
    Did you have "Split Shape" as a long tail keyword? or did you just have them as separate keywords.

    Split,Shape,etc etc

    I would assume that if you had keywords like this...

    Split,photo,camera,Shape,lens,etc,etc...

    That it would not matter, since those are just generic words.

    Regardless of how you did it, this is getting absurd. Hope it resolves in your favor.
  • anappdev2anappdev2 Posts: 104New Users @ @
    Good part is Apple did not remove it on their own. They could have done it easily as they have for many others. So I would assume Apple wants to hear your side as well... Good luck.
  • C6Silver05C6Silver05 SeattlePosts: 632New Users @ @ @
    What sort of "intellectual property right" does one have in this regard? Are we talking about a trademark of a name? Just creating an app with a given name doesn't grant you an intellectual property right, does it? Also, correct me if I am wrong, but Apple doesn't make use of long tail keywords so I'd assume these words are chopped up with a comma separator. This of course makes the complaint even more silly as "split" and "shape" as separate words are germane to this kind of app. Frankly, I don't think I would initially bother with this person but rather go back to Apple claiming that this is frivolous.
  • esotericesoteric Posts: 617Registered Users @ @ @
    That developer is hoping you don't know much about what's going on and will remove your app to give himself better visibility.

    From experience, Apple won't do anything about this, they always send that same email with all those steps however won't actually remove any apps from the app store.

    You could pretty much just tell them to F*** Off. Unless they actually have the copyright to SplitShape and can prove to Apple they do, this will go nowhere.
  • smashingsmashing Posts: 291Registered Users @ @
    esoteric wrote: »
    Unless they actually have the copyright to SplitShape and can prove to Apple they do, this will go nowhere.

    I am pretty sure that is too few words to copyright. Check trademarks or just ask for more clarification. I wouldn't get too worked up over a complaint coming from a gmail address. Now a hotmail account is something to take serious.
    Time Calculator+ the best time calculator in the world.
  • sparksosparkso Posts: 550Registered Users @ @ @
    dev666999 wrote: »
    Did you have "Split Shape" as a long tail keyword? or did you just have them as separate keywords.

    Split,Shape,etc etc

    I would assume that if you had keywords like this...

    Split,photo,camera,Shape,lens,etc,etc...

    That it would not matter, since those are just generic words.

    Regardless of how you did it, this is getting absurd. Hope it resolves in your favor.

    yeah split,xxxx,abcd,shape

    when my app came out three years ago, this "Split Shape" app is not even on the app store remember. This complainant only had their app up last month.
  • C6Silver05C6Silver05 SeattlePosts: 632New Users @ @ @
    smashing wrote: »
    . I wouldn't get too worked up over a complaint coming from a gmail address. Now a hotmail account is something to take serious.

    If you think Hotmail is cause for concern, I'd say hire yourself the best damn lawyer possible if the guy comes at you with an AOL address! :o

    Seriously though, with individual words that are germane to the app, I don't see a case here at all. I would go back to Apple and claim the request as frivolous. I wouldn't even bother to contact the clown who complained but I wouldn't just ignore the whole thing as I wouldn't want to give Apple any cause to just take action.

  • dredre Posts: 1,349Registered Users @ @ @ @
    "We look forward to receiving written assurance that your applications do not infringe Complainant's rights"

    Which means Apple wants at least a written assurance from you, that you are not infringing on anything. It's in case that guy decides to sue Apple. So.. you have few options:

    1. Don't do anything. See what happens. Apple now don't just remove the apps. It was getting out of hand; the devs were simply getting rid of competition. The complainant needs to be persistent now.

    2. Write a letter to Apple, assuring that you are not infringing on anything. Just what you explained here. You can hire lawyer for that, if you don't mind spending some money.

    3. Decide how much effort you want to put in this and how aggressive you want to be. You can research if his app is trademarked, if not - you claim the trademark and have his app removed. Basically you can do to him exactly what he tried to do to you.

    I would go with the option 1 first. If the complainant won't follow up, then that will be it. Probably he is just sending this complaints to everybody hoping that devs will chicken out and give him more visibility.
  • thirstylocketthirstylocket Posts: 99Registered Users @
    I got the exact same email off the same person!

    For me it was the word 'AirPic'

    How can I find out if this word is trademarked or copyright?
  • savannasavanna Posts: 270New Users @ @
    Why do apple forward such frivolous nonsense on?

    Do they hold the trademark for those words in territories in which you are selling your app? A quick google should reveal a way to look that up.

    My guess is that they don't, since trademarked words need to be distinctive, not descriptive. Using descriptive words as a name for an app does not give you the right to the exclusive use of those words.

    Because you have been contacted by apple I would do them the courtesy of replying to apple simply to state you are not infringing since they hold no trademark for those words, and the matter is now at a close, and cc the idiots that response.
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,046Registered Users @ @ @ @
    I got the same letter for another keyword. If you ignore it, Apple would send another email:

    According to our records, this matter is unresolved at this time. Please update us on the status of your communications regarding the following app:

    =======

    I am thinking if I still ignore it, would Apple remove my app finally? How can I know if the keyword is really trademarked? Since there are lots of apps if I search for it.
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,618New Users @ @ @ @ @

    raymng wrote: »
    I got the same letter for another keyword. If you ignore it, Apple would send another email:

    According to our records, this matter is unresolved at this time. Please update us on the status of your communications regarding the following app:

    =======

    I am thinking if I still ignore it, would Apple remove my app finally? How can I know if the keyword is really trademarked? Since there are lots of apps if I search for it.


    Try Googling it. There are sites that will let you search for trademarked words. Including by country.
  • dredre Posts: 1,349Registered Users @ @ @ @
    Trademark doesn't have to be registered. The company can simply claim a trademark by adding "TM" next to the term.. Registering just makes the trademark stronger. Same with copyright. Anything you produce is automatically copyrighted and you own it. All you have to do is mention it.

    Apple just wants to avoid lawsuits. It's absolutely pointless to sue a small indie dev, but figuring out some ways to sue Apple hoping for some good settlement is a dream of many. That's why for Apple it's much easier to throw a dev under the bus than facing some stupid jury who will award half a billion dollars to some douche bag.
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,618New Users @ @ @ @ @
    dre wrote: »
    Trademark doesn't have to be registered. The company can simply claim a trademark by adding "TM" next to the term.. Registering just makes the trademark stronger. Same with copyright. Anything you produce is automatically copyrighted and you own it. All you have to do is mention it.

    Apple just wants to avoid lawsuits. It's absolutely pointless to sue a small indie dev, but figuring out some ways to sue Apple hoping for some good settlement is a dream of many. That's why for Apple it's much easier to throw a dev under the bus than facing some stupid jury who will award half a billion dollars to some douche bag.

    Agreed, but it is a bit more complicated than that.

    http://thompsonhall.com/minneapolis-intellectual-property-attorneys-does-a-trademark-have-to-be-registered-to-be-valid/

    " Benefits of Trademark Registration

    When a person registers his or her trademark, the registration is evidence that that person has the exclusive right to use that mark. The person is presumed to own the exclusive right to use that mark. Unless another person puts forth more compelling evidence to dispute this evidence, this presumption stands.

    Another person may be able to prove a case against a person with a registered trademark, but it will be much more difficult. When one party has registered his or her trademark, the parties do not start off on a level playing field. The party with the registered mark begins ahead and it is up to the other party to prove otherwise.

    Proof that a trademark is invalid is a defense to a claim of trademark infringement. However, if the trademark was registered, it is up to the other party to prove the trademark is invalid. It is not up to the party with the registered trademark to prove that the trademark is valid. If the trademark is unregistered, however, then it is up to the party with the unregistered trademark to prove it is valid, rather than the other way around.

    Once a person has registered a trademark with the USPTO, the person should use the registration symbol, and “R” with a circle around it, when using the trademark, to give others notice of its federal registration.

    A person may also record a registered trademark with the Bureau of Customs. This adds protection against goods with the same or similar mark being imported. "
  • sparksosparkso Posts: 550Registered Users @ @ @
    raymng wrote: »
    I got the same letter for another keyword.

    But did you get it from the same person ?
  • raymngraymng Posts: 2,046Registered Users @ @ @ @
    sparkso wrote: »
    raymng wrote: »
    I got the same letter for another keyword.

    But did you get it from the same person ?

    No... not the same case as you.

    I am thinking to reply and ask them to provide some proof. If I don't reply, Apple may remove my app..
  • dinglefacedingleface Posts: 179New Users @ @
    Sending a reply asking them to provide proof of their exclusive right to use the terms Split Shape as raymng has recommended is what I would do as well. If you send that reply and the complainant does not respond within a certain period of time then Apple will close the file.
  • dredre Posts: 1,349Registered Users @ @ @ @
    dev666999 wrote: »

    Agreed, but it is a bit more complicated than that....

    That's what I meant by saying "registering makes the trademark stronger"..
  • dredre Posts: 1,349Registered Users @ @ @ @
    raymng wrote: »
    I am thinking to reply and ask them to provide some proof. If I don't reply, Apple may remove my app..

    Proof of what?
  • bellissimobellissimo Posts: 205Registered Users @ @
    edited September 2015
    dingleface wrote: »
    Sending a reply asking them to provide proof of their exclusive right to use the terms Split Shape as raymng has recommended is what I would do as well. If you send that reply and the complainant does not respond within a certain period of time then Apple will close the file.

    Make sure you ask for proof that they have trademarks for the 'individual' words, which is what your keywords are, not the phrase itself. Of course they won't have this, but at least it shows you are progressing it.

    Even if they did have a trademark for the whole phrase and you had this as a single keyword, I don't see how Apple can justify removing the app. The phrase is common enough and does not contain any unique words. If you went down the path of banning keywords based on trademarks of common words, then soon enough all keywords would be banned and all searches would return empty results :)
  • dinglefacedingleface Posts: 179New Users @ @
    bellissimo wrote: »
    dingleface wrote: »
    Sending a reply asking them to provide proof of their exclusive right to use the terms Split Shape as raymng has recommended is what I would do as well. If you send that reply and the complainant does not respond within a certain period of time then Apple will close the file.

    Make sure you ask for proof that they have trademarks for the 'individual' words, which is what your keywords are, not the phrase itself. Of course they won't have this, but at least it shows you are progressing it.

    Even if they did have a trademark for the whole phrase and you had this as a single keyword, I don't see how Apple can justify removing the app. The phrase is common enough and does not contain any unique words. If you went down the path of banning keywords based on trademarks of common words, then soon enough all keywords would be banned and all searches would return empty results :)

    The legalities of Trademark use in keywords is somewhat of a grey area, but it looks like the complainant doesn't even have a registered trademark for Split Shape in the first place (based on my quick search anyway). So it probably doesn't even apply in this case, but here is something interesting.

    Google started allowing trademarks as keywords world wide for adwords in 2013 and they give their explanation as to why. Of course, this does not mean that it is legal to use trademarks in your keywords, but it appears that Google thinks that it should be.
    Google argues that this is a good thing for everybody, of course:

    Our trademark policy is designed to provide greater choice to users via Google ads. This is similar to the way a shopper benefits when they see a variety of brands’ products on a store shelf.

    Even if they are looking for a particular brand of running shoe, for example, seeing many different options enables them to compare features, prices, and more to buy the best running shoe for them.

    The same idea applies on the web — people searching for one brand of product should be able to easily find information about products from similar brands to make informed decisions.
    thenextweb.com/google/2013/03/22/starting-april-23-google-will-allow-trademarks-as-keywords-in-adwords-worldwide/
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,618New Users @ @ @ @ @
    dre wrote: »
    dev666999 wrote: »

    Agreed, but it is a bit more complicated than that....

    That's what I meant by saying "registering makes the trademark stronger"..

    The devil is in the details.

    My boldfaced text gives the OP an easy way out. If the trademark is registered, the OP has to prove that he is not encroaching.

    But if the trademark is NOT registered, it is the complainant who has to prove the validity of his trademark. Making this quite a bit easier for the OP

    The latter would be very difficult to prove by the complainant.
  • dredre Posts: 1,349Registered Users @ @ @ @
    dev666999 wrote: »

    The devil is in the details.

    My boldfaced text gives the OP an easy way out. ...

    There is no easy way out in Apple's la-la-land. Apple is the law, judge, and executioner. You can be right all you want, it doesn't matter.

    If you want to go by the law, then Apple shouldn't even respond. The idea of trademark protection is to prevent misuse of product names. For example I can't make a car in garage and call it "Ford". I will confuse customers, who will think that they are buying "Ford", but instead are buying my "invention". But I am absolutely allowed to make car floor mats, sell them on ebay and call "Floor mats that fit Ford or Toyota cars". Although Ford and Toyota are registered trademarks, I'm not misusing them. I'm not lying to the customers. And, yes, people might be searching for "Ford" and will see my product, so in some sense I am using well known trademarks for my own benefit, but they will also see that I'm not selling "Ford" or any Ford product. I'm just selling my product which might be useful for people who own Ford.

    In this case. Even if the complaintant has registered trademark, still sparkso could be using his keywords, because those keywords were not misrepresenting complainants product. You are not allowed to sell "Windows" product or "Mac". But you are allowed to sell "My product for Mac" or "My product for iOS, which perfectly works on Apple's iPhones and iPads".. You are using trademarks, but you are not misrepresenting them - you are allowed to do so.

    In case of Apple appstore, Apple just doesn't give rat's a$$ about these things. They would allow some keywords, but won't allow other. They would allow this for some products, but won't for other. It's a mess. They follow their own rules and standards, which they change all the time. In the early days they were removing apps in few days after first complaint. It was a good time to kick the competition out or extort money (Edge game for example). Then they started sending letters and expecting "explanations". Now they won't remove the app for a long time unless the complainant is persistent and can show enough evidence. That might change any time for anybody, or somebody in Apple might just say "ah, screw him, I'm gonna remove all his apps and terminate his account, I don't like him".
  • dev666999dev666999 Posts: 3,618New Users @ @ @ @ @
    dre wrote: »
    dev666999 wrote: »

    The devil is in the details.

    My boldfaced text gives the OP an easy way out. ...

    There is no easy way out in Apple's la-la-land. Apple is the law, judge, and executioner. You can be right all you want, it doesn't matter.

    If you want to go by the law, then Apple shouldn't even respond. The idea of trademark protection is to prevent misuse of product names. For example I can't make a car in garage and call it "Ford". I will confuse customers, who will think that they are buying "Ford", but instead are buying my "invention". But I am absolutely allowed to make car floor mats, sell them on ebay and call "Floor mats that fit Ford or Toyota cars". Although Ford and Toyota are registered trademarks, I'm not misusing them. I'm not lying to the customers. And, yes, people might be searching for "Ford" and will see my product, so in some sense I am using well known trademarks for my own benefit, but they will also see that I'm not selling "Ford" or any Ford product. I'm just selling my product which might be useful for people who own Ford.

    In this case. Even if the complaintant has registered trademark, still sparkso could be using his keywords, because those keywords were not misrepresenting complainants product. You are not allowed to sell "Windows" product or "Mac". But you are allowed to sell "My product for Mac" or "My product for iOS, which perfectly works on Apple's iPhones and iPads".. You are using trademarks, but you are not misrepresenting them - you are allowed to do so.

    In case of Apple appstore, Apple just doesn't give rat's a$$ about these things. They would allow some keywords, but won't allow other. They would allow this for some products, but won't for other. It's a mess. They follow their own rules and standards, which they change all the time. In the early days they were removing apps in few days after first complaint. It was a good time to kick the competition out or extort money (Edge game for example). Then they started sending letters and expecting "explanations". Now they won't remove the app for a long time unless the complainant is persistent and can show enough evidence. That might change any time for anybody, or somebody in Apple might just say "ah, screw him, I'm gonna remove all his apps and terminate his account, I don't like him".

    Exactly, so this gives the OP the upper hand. Let the complainant prove his words are trademarked. If trademarked, the OP will then have to make whatever changes necessary to stop the infringement.

    As for Apple morphing, sure...I can see that. But this is here and now. Under a current set of Apple protocols. The future? Who knows...
  • dredre Posts: 1,349Registered Users @ @ @ @
    dev666999 wrote: »
    Exactly, so this gives the OP the upper hand. Let the complainant prove his words are trademarked. If trademarked, the OP will then have to make whatever changes necessary to stop the infringement.

    As for Apple morphing, sure...I can see that. But this is here and now. Under a current set of Apple protocols. The future? Who knows...

    Ow, yeah. If I were OP I wouldn't even bother at first. If the complainant is persistent and will continue, then Apple will send more letters. They won't remove the app just like that.

    The problem is, that Apple is known for terminating accounts that have many complains, so the complainant is actually a big douche trying to throw other devs under the bus. Another idea for OP: contact other devs with the same keywords who received the letters from Apple and convince them to together complain to Apple. Have the complainant taste his own medicine.

    Things change in Apple-land and we have to change with them. Those who change - survive.
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