FlickType developer's App Store lawsuit allowed to proceed

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited January 31
A developer's lawsuit against Apple over cloned apps and scams in the App Store is being allowed to proceed, with a court allowing some of the claims to proceed to trial.




The lawsuit, originally filed in March 2021 by FlickType Apple Watch keyboard developer Kosta Eleftheirou, accused Apple of enabling scammers to submit fake clones to the App Store and to use faked screenshots to unfairly profit, as well as suspicious behavior surrounding his own app's rejections. In a Monday filing, Eleftheirou will be having his day in court.

The filing accuses Apple of multiple issues, ranging from breach of contract and false advertising to unfair competition, fraud, negligence, and negligent misrepresentation. Apple attempted but failed to get the case dismissed in its entirety, after arguing that sufficient facts weren't stated for each cause of action.

Superior Court Judge Peter H. Kirwan of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, went through the complaint claims and ruled on each individually. With some complaints found to be valid, the lawsuit is able to proceed.

The court denied Apple's objections to three causes of action, covering false advertising and unfair business practices, along with the breach of contract claim. Apple's objections to claims relating to negligence, negligent misrepresentation, and fraud are sustained, with leave for Eleftheirou to amend.

Eleftheirou's complaint is that scammers can copy the ideas of his apps and create enough of a clone to be accepted by the App Store. Promoted using screenshots and videos, along with false advertising, users would be convinced to download and pay for the fake app, which ultimately didn't work.

It was thought that since users were tricked to use these apps, they didn't therefore spend money on Eleftheirou's apps, and so he was monetarily harmed by the arrangement. It was also alleged that Apple didn't do enough to deal with the scam apps, as it has no incentive to do so since it earns a profit regardless of whether an app is genuine or not.

Eleftheirou also alleged that he was approached by Apple to acquire FlickType, but after negotiations failed, the app was suddenly being denied in the App Store. It was said by the developer that it prevented him from competing while scam apps were permitted to thrive.

In September, Apple told AppleInsider it denied the lawsuit claims over FlickType, as it was originally disallowed due to an old rule about Apple Watch keyboards. The rule was revised in 2019 to allow keyboards, and that FlickType was resubmitted and allowed into the store.

Eleftheriou disputed Apple's description of events, insisting on the app being rejected in 2019 after demonstrating it to the Apple Watch team.

"Apple has been massively profiting from their App Store monopoly, by restricting the ability of developers to freely conduct business directly with their users," Eleftheriou told TechCrunch. "Their anti-competitive practices have gone unchecked for over a decade, and they're only getting more brazen. I'm now looking forward to presenting my case, and I'm confident the court will see Apple's practices for what they are."



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 560member
    “Apple has been massively profiting from their App Store monopoly, by restricting the ability of developers to freely conduct business directly with their users," Eleftheriou told TechCrunch. "Their anti-competitive practices have gone unchecked for over a decade, and they're only getting more brazen. “

    Then why did you sign the App Store agreement?
    oldcastledanoxbeowulfschmidt
  • Reply 2 of 10
    It seems we're in pile on mode. If you don't make enough money on your App, it's not the App... it's Apple. So sue them, they have money... What a world. What a world!
  • Reply 3 of 10
    Looks like a POS developer decided that suing was more profitable than working. Let's see, if the APP store was not in existence, this chap could still be selling crayons on a street corner?  I do not think the APP store blocks competition inn the items on the store. Perhaps this vendor should be seeing the ones copying their work instead of the outfit providing a market place.
  • Reply 4 of 10
    App clones should be prohibited. Unless there is a huge enhancement to the copy it should not be allowed in the App Store. 
    viclauyychammeroftruth
  • Reply 5 of 10
    Shouldn’t he be suing the app developers who are “infringing” on his product?
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 6 of 10
    oldcastle said:
    It seems we're in pile on mode. If you don't make enough money on your App, it's not the App... it's Apple. So sue them, they have money... What a world. What a world!
    Agreed on that….whatever happened to this world? Biting the hands that feeds the mouth, ouches….sad sad sad
  • Reply 7 of 10
    danoxdanox Posts: 952member
    geekmee said:
    “Apple has been massively profiting from their App Store monopoly, by restricting the ability of developers to freely conduct business directly with their users," Eleftheriou told TechCrunch. "Their anti-competitive practices have gone unchecked for over a decade, and they're only getting more brazen. “

    Then why did you sign the App Store agreement?
    He wanted money and he thinks Apple should give it to him he’s entitled……..
  • Reply 8 of 10
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,561member
    Anilu_777 said:
    App clones should be prohibited. Unless there is a huge enhancement to the copy it should not be allowed in the App Store. 
    But how is Apple suppose to know a "clone", from an original? Being first to have an app in the Apple App Store is in no way proof that one own the original copyright to that app. In copyright law, it's first to create the original app, not first to get it into an app store.  And it is not up to Apple to determine if a "clone" is different enough to not be considered a copy or a derivative of the original work. 

    Plus, in order to file a civil suit to recover damages from an infringer, one must register their copyright. Otherwise, the copyright owner can only prevent an infringer from continuing to use his copyrighted work. Without registering the copyright, there's no easy way for the infringer to know that he was infringing upon someone else's copyrighted work, therefore the court will only award nominal damages.

    https://www.justia.com/intellectual-property/copyright/enforcement/ ;

    Apple should only remove a "clone" if the original copyright owner first sues the developer of the "clone" for copyright infringement in a civil court. Suing Apple first, is not the proper or legal way to enforce ones copyright and to recover damages.

    But I'm willing to bet that most developers do not register the copyright to their work and their only recourse to recover any money that they think they are entitled to, is to sue Apple. 

    Apple should only be liable for any copyright infringement for allowing a "clone" in their Apple App Store, if the original app owner presented Apple with proof that they are the original copyright owner or proof that they are suing the "clone" developer for copyright infringement in a civil court and Apple do not remove the "clone" from the Apple App Store. And the original copyright owner wins their case in court.

    What if Apple were to remove all the "clones" of an app because developer of the first such app claims that they own the copyright but later it was found out the developer did not own the original copyright to the app? Do all the "clone" developer get to sue Apple for lost of income?  
    edited February 1 viclauyyc
  • Reply 9 of 10
    ApplePoor said:
    Looks like a POS developer decided that suing was more profitable than working. Let's see, if the APP store was not in existence, this chap could still be selling crayons on a street corner?  I do not think the APP store blocks competition inn the items on the store. Perhaps this vendor should be seeing the ones copying their work instead of the outfit providing a market place.
    The marketplace in question allows you to easily rip off other brands and works without much recourse. It's pretty much like China, except we're not in China.
    hammeroftruthchadbag
  • Reply 10 of 10
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,669member
    This guy may have some valid points -- I don't know --  but when you load up your  suit with every kitchen-sink claim you can think of, it kind of makes you look like a legal grifter.   Just make a couple string claims that you can easily explain to anyone who asks and you will look a lot better and more sympathetic on the public eye.  
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