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Ask HN: My app's been copied. What do I do?
12 points by dave1619 2503 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments
We've had a very successful iPhone app on the market for the past 2.5 years. We've been planning on releasing an Android version within the next 4-6 months. However, today we found out that somebody in the Android Market has copied our app almost identically. They released it about a month ago. It copies our layout EXACTLY, our functions, our look, even graphics look similar. Now, this isn't a sort of copy, it's almost an identical copy. If it was just 60% of our app that was copied, that's one thing. But it's 99% of our app that's been copied. I'm concerned that our iPhone users who switch to Android will be confused that we made the app, and also that it will hurt our future Android endeavors. So, what can we do about it? Can we send a cease and desist? Are there any laws to protect us?

Your best bet is to contact a patent lawyer. You actually have something here as it's called "prior art". Your product is prior art and they have stepped on you somehow. Let it be loss of revenue etc..

Basically your product predates theirs and you have a case. Also let the lawyers handle any communication as you may be stepping out of bounds. (let them handle it)

And be happy that someone is copying you, It's a sign of flattery. Plus they have made their Android users as a few marketers for you for free. Every time an Android users comes in contact with a iphone user who appreciates that app they will look for it in the iphone app store.

good luck.

If they used your trademark (registered or not) then they broke the law.

If they wrote an app that looks like yours, most likely they've done nothing wrong. Many apps have only one look. Calculators for example. They all have similar or the exact same buttons, layouts, colors, etc.

Trademark is probably your best bet. If they haven't used the name, you're probably out of luck.

You can take it as a badge of honor that someone liked your idea enough to copy you. I've had one of my iphone apps copied, not quite as thoroughly as you say, but enough to know that I inspired them. I say, have at it - if they're making the same kind of money I am from it, it definitely cost them more to make than it's worth. ;-)

Contact a lawyer. I'm not one, but there are laws that protect you (probably... Do you have any trademarks, patents?). Also, You have intellectual property rights to your app regardless of patents or trademarks. If its a blatant copy, you probably have means for suing them and getting some $$ back.

Again, not a lawyer, I could have said something completely wrong, but as far as I know what I said above correct.

No advice but my sympathies. That really sucks.

What I would do in your shoes - obfuscate the code if possible, iterate rapidly (nobody can execute like you), and move a lot of logic to the backend where nobody can steal your code.

Lawyer up if the app is valuable - eg has the potential to make you over 100K, if its worth less than that, send a nastygram and move on to better apps.

Talk to a lawyer even if it's worth less. Even if all you do is a nastygram, a nastygram on a lawyer's letterhead is worth far more than one from you. It won't be very expensive, but may have very valuable results all by itself.

Do they use your name?

The name is similar but not exactly the same.

So wats the name of your app...any screen shots of your Copycats app for comparision?

don't have permission to release name or screenshots. but it's basically identical.

It took me about 2 minutes to find your company... I would recommend using a throwaway account if privacy is a concern.

Thanks, will do.

What's the name of the iPhone App?

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