Could Apple's Lawyers Really Not Understand That Reporting Isn't Copyright Infringement?

from the seems-unlikely dept

Apple is notorious in the legal efforts they undertake to keep their secrets secret and to protect their intellectual property. However, it seems that some of Apple's lawyers may have a trigger finger that's a little too itchy. Following the announcement of the iPhone last week, someone created a skin for Windows Mobile devices that looks just like the iPhone's interface (though, of course, it doesn't actually work like the iPhone interface). It's reasonable to expect that Apple's lawyers would try to stop the person who created the software from distributing it (which would certainly be a reasonable trademark claim, though, not a particularly useful one). However, rather than doing that, they've been sending cease-and-desists at any blogs talking about it and posting the images of the Windows Mobile skin. It's clearly not a trademark infringement to report on the situation, but here's where Apple's lawyers get even odder. Rather than claiming a trademark infringement claim, they're actually calling it a copyright infringement issue -- which isn't just wrong, it's egregiously wrong.

The lawyers claim copyright over the icons, but you can't stop someone from using them in a report about them, which is clearly fair use. It's also not trademark infringement (if they decided to go down that route). It's just bullying. Michael Arrington, over at TechCrunch, has posted the image as well, pointing out how ridiculous this is. Some of the comments to his post show the level of confusion out there around the law. It is true that if you don't protect your trademark you can lose it, but that's not what's going on here at all. First, it's not trademark law they're using, and the same thing doesn't apply to copyrights. Second, even if it was trademark law they were using, they wouldn't have a case against those who were simply reporting the story and showing the image (they probably would against anyone selling the software, however). It's yet another example of lawyers simply using intellectual property law to bully those who are doing something they don't like, not something illegal.
Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Tyshaun, 15 Jan 2007 @ 1:43pm

    Re: I think its time to stop

    I think its time to stop supporting companies that are off on this type of tirade. I'm so sick and tired of this crap. From now on its nondescript, generic hardware

    Not to get all negative on your solo-tiraid on nepharious corporate practices, but how many companies you think wouldn't behave this way if given the opportunity? Most companies that succeed in our system do not do so strictly on the merits of their products, even those that potray themselves as against traditional corporate cultures of corruption. I would challenge someone to come up with a list of "significant" hardware or software vendors who have not been accused of hitting below the belt from time to time, and I will assert that would be a very short list indeed.


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.