Friday, January 16, 2009

Apple says one of Adobe Photoshop's custom shapes is an Apple trademark image

I recently started writing iPhone applications. I really enjoy it too. The SDK is brilliant. The documentation is almost perfect. Samples are abundant.

For initiation, I decided to write an iPhone app for our Profesyo.net which is a professional network site in Turkey. The functionality would be to display the financial market status, your contacts as well as to send people connection requests and process the connection requests you received.

I wrote the app, signed the code and submitted to Apple through iTunesConnect on December 29th, 2008.

Around a week passed, a message from Apple saying that they can't deploy my app as it was violating one of iPhone UI guidelines related to table views. Fair enough. I made the proper change and resubmitted.


Yet another week passed, and another message. This time telling me that I have to notify the user if there is no network connection as my app relies on one being present. I was displaying blank values in that case. That's fair too. Once again I made the change and resubmitted sure this time that I've done everything right.

And another week passed, and you guessed it right, another message. This one is interesting. Here's the complete text of the message:


Dear Cagan,

Thank you for submitting Profesyo.net to the App Store. We've reviewed Profesyo.net and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because of an Apple trademark image. We want to remind you of the importance of following Apple's posted Guidelines for Using Apple's Trademarks and Copyrights: . Please see the enclosed screenshot

If you believe that you can make the necessary changes so that Profesyo.net does not infringe on Apple trademarks, we encourage you to do so and resubmit it for review.

++++++++++++

Apple Logo and Apple-owned Graphic Symbols:

You may not use the Apple Logo or any other Apple-owned graphic symbol, logo, or icon on or in connection with web sites, products, packaging, manuals, promotional/advertising materials, or for any other purpose except pursuant to an express written trademark license from Apple, such as a reseller agreement.

++++++++++++

Regards,

iPhone Developer Program



Hmmm...Cagan is getting upset!!!

So I got very curious as I don't remember using any one of Apple's images. I quickly opened the attached screenshot:



Well waaaaiittt a second there tiger!!!!

First a trademark on a wireframe earth image?

Second, I was pretty sure I found that somewhere in Photoshop. I fired up Photoshop (CS3 for detailed oriented readers) and sure enough it's there:



Not only has it been 3 weeks since I submitted my app; I now have to battle with Apple over this? I'll resubmit with another image of course. But I'm pretty annoyed.

Anyways, that's the story..I just wanted to share it.

44 comments:

  1. to make matters worse it looks like your globe isn't in the middle of the word network, its a bit too far to the right

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  2. Also, the financial chart icon points in the wrong direction.

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  3. I suspect they mean your 'connect' logo, which looks just like the Apple Genius logo.

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  4. The connect logo is also from Photoshop.

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  5. Simply unbelievable, Apple owns this kind of Pan Am standard logo? They're crazy.

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  6. The connect logo is available from unicode; ⚛

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  7. Apple is so locked up in it's ivory tower... Disgusting how these big companies claim ownership to so much public ip!

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  8. He is offering insight into the process of iPhone application development. If you can live with out it, please do.
    Thank you to Cagan.
    Shut up to Anon. @ 6:16 AM

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  9. I am certain it's the Connect logo that they're referring to. I remember Apple coming down on makers of "Mac Genius" t-shirts with that logo shortly after the introduction of Apple retail stores and the Genius bar.

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  10. I find it amazing Apple have such loyal followers when their clearly out of touch.

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  11. Are you sure it's the earth wireframe? I would have thought it's the "Connect" icon which looks just like the "Genius" icon from iTunes.

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  12. The red circle is made by them so they are clearly referring to the earth icon

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  13. They have a nerve copywriting the atomic symbol!

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  14. Ah to be on your knees at the Apple altar. Why don't you develop an Android application? I've heard you don't need approval from some control freak company to deploy your application.

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  15. You're all wrong; it's because he used text. Apple now holds the copyright on the letters A through Z.

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  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  17. Thumbs up for "Anonymous":
    > the financial chart icon points in the wrong direction.

    that made my day. It might reflect Apple's financial state

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  18. I thought the apple genius logo was an icon of a guy with his ass on his shoulders.

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  19. And the fanboys rawred on... Apple Apple Apple

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  20. In fact this is the logo of one of the evilist oranisations (trying to enslave most of the not yet enslaved countries by giving out loads) on this planet... thats why its seen so often.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Bank_Group

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  21. I think you're overstating Gordon. They only hold the copyright on "A", "p", "l" and "e". But still....

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  22. Clearly, trademarks and patents are getting out of hand. I mean, if someone decided to trademark a circle with a gradient fill: #fff to #000, you'd have to ask permission to use it. How ridiculous.

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  23. Why people think they mean the connect logo is beyond me. For one, they circled the other logo in red, which is a pretty damn good indicator of what they meant. Regardless, the connect logo is also a standard symbol used pretty ubiquitously and available in Photoshop.

    I would reply to Apple with the Photoshop screen capture you posted. If you have a lawyer friend, maybe ask if it'd be worth it to send some form of threatening letter. Obviously you don't want to sue them to invalidate their tradmark (though maybe somebody should) but a stern letter might be worth. My only concern with the letter would be they might blacklist you from the shop, but I don't know how likely that is. The lawyer friend might be in a better position to advice you on that.

    Or you could just change the icon, which it sounds like you're going to, but then you're just giving into injustice. Sure is easier, though.

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  24. Looks like someone repurposed the GeoPort icon as the World Clock icon. Apple gave up on the GeoPort trademark years ago (plus, it looks completely different), so I'm not sure why they thought they still owned it.

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  25. Probably the reason people think they are referring to the Connect icon is that it is the only thing that looks like any of Apple's trademarks. The wireframe globe looks nothing like anything I have seen. If they circled the globe (we do not know if they did, or Cagan did so to illustrate) it could have just been a mistake.

    Rather ridiculous, but nice to know that Apple have such an attention to detail in every app submitted. That said, the delay this causes in apps being released is really absurd.

    Shame the AppStore is now being deluged with fart apps. How many does the world need?

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  26. I'm guessing, and this might be wrong, that it's this icon here that they're complaining about: http://www.iphoneincanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/iphone_world-clock.jpg

    With that said, seeing as this is not the icon you used, it might've been a confusion on the part of the person who was reviewing your app. I would probably press the issue further if it was me.

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  27. Even if the image is trademarked, I think from a usability viewpoint it would be better to allow copying these images, so that they are consistent across different applications...

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  28. I did every search I could think of in the USPTO's trademark database, and I could find no trademark applications or registrations owned by apple that claims any globe, wireframe, or circle design like the one that has been identified. Of course, trademark registration is not a prerequisite to claim ownership, but Apple's good with their filings. If there's something that they claim as a mark, they usually register it if they can.

    It may be worth it to see if Apple will tell you what mark it is they claim right to, whether it's registered with the USPTO, and if so, what the registration number and status of the registration is.

    (This isn't legal advice; as other commenters have noted, there are lots of considerations here, and whether you want to bother this, or whether you just want your app posted, are important considerations.)

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  29. The Apple Genius logo actually includes the Bohr model of the Atom
    (See U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 3,380,517.)

    So it may be your "connect" icon that they're concerned about. But note that the Trademark Registration is not for the Bohr model alone, but plus the words GENUIS BAR. And the goods and services with which that icon is used, "retail store services," "maintenance," and "support services" for computers, has nothing to do with any application software. Would they say reject an "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" game because that game show's logo also includes an atomic model? I don't think so.

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  30. The author of this blog post is confused. Clearly, the trademarked symbol is the genius/atom symbol:

    http://tinyurl.com/8dunxu

    If you resubmit your app with it still there, you'll get another of these rejections.

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  31. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  32. I use the wireframe globe icon in loads of my apps and have no problems. They must be having issue with your 'genius' looking icon. You should just HIG as on an iPhone that icon is used to create a genius playlist. Hope it works out for you though.

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  33. How can Apple trademark that symbol when it is a standard symbol representing an atom? http://images.google.co.uk/images?q=atomic+symbol

    I only noticed because I remember using it randomly when I was 15 (1996) on the back cover of a video me and some friends made as part of our work experience week. I still have the video if anyone wants proof.

    Does that mean I can sue Apple for copyright infringement?

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