(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
community, developers, iphone, ndas


Apple Finally Realizes That NDAs For Developers Are A Bad Idea

from the took-'em-long-enough dept

It was definitely surprising to see Apple trying to enforce an NDA to stop iPhone developers from talking about their applications, so it's nice to see Apple (for once!) respond to the backlash by dropping the NDA. However, the company's explanation for why it had the NDA in the first place doesn't make much sense:
We put the NDA in place because the iPhone OS includes many Apple inventions and innovations that we would like to protect, so that others don't steal our work. It has happened before. While we have filed for hundreds of patents on iPhone technology, the NDA added yet another level of protection. We put it in place as one more way to help protect the iPhone from being ripped off by others.
It's unclear what "inventions and innovations" would be "stolen" (the company probably means infringed, not stolen, obviously) without such an NDA in place. Also, the patents are a separate issue. The whole explanation, frankly, is misleading. The NDA and the patents protect entirely different things in very different ways, and it's difficult to see how the lack of an NDA allows anything to be "ripped off."

Either way, it's good that Apple has recognized that such NDA's significantly limit its developers. It's tough to have much of a developer "community" when said developers are barred from communicating.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 8:21pm

    Mike, your stories are the only ones on the techdirt main page, what happened to the other authors?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Keith, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 8:32pm

    Everyone else left

    Non disclosure agreements are for trade secrets generally (which fall under state legislation and are different from copyrights and patents in that they deal with information that is not publicly available) They are generally applied to contractors and employees.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 8:35pm

    did you expect apple to spell out in detail their inventions and innovations for you to report on?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Michael Long, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 9:46pm

    Ah... not quite.

    Yes, developers are released from the NDA and are now free to discuss the SDK and their applications... but only for RELEASED products.

    So if you're the developer of the game Trism, which is available on the App Store, you can discuss it and its code. You can also discuss and write about the currently shipping iPhone OS and its SDK (2.1).

    Unreleased applications and SDK API's (2.2), however, are still bound under NDA, which basically works to prevent developers from disclosing new features and functionality before they've been officially announced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Woadan, Oct 1st, 2008 @ 10:13pm

    Re: Ah... not quite.

    The real issue here is that for those who get rejected, the NDA still applies, and that means you can't report on the reasons for the rejection without breaking the NDA.

    So, for instance, the fellow whose podcasting app was rejected for competing with iTunes would be unable to disclose it because the NDA would apply.

    Apple just keeps confirming for me why I don't need or want their products.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Twinrova, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 4:00am

    FINALLY realizes?

    Wrong. They knew ahead of time and were simply trying to prevent issues of others stealing work, another Techdirt conversation in which Mike believes the way to compete is to keep trying to "one up" the competition, without realizing there's a ceiling on development without new components to put them.

    After all, why the hell do you think new TVs, DVD players, PCs, browsers, game consoles, cell... ah, hell. You get the idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Ajax 4Hire, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 4:31am

    Mixing Apples and Oranges...

    NDA - Non-Disclosure Agreement.
    This is an agreement to not disclose some proprietary information about Apple (in this case).

    This is silly, the developers get documentation on the API (which is what Apple claims they need to NDA). APIs are doorways into your InnerWorks.

    Apple is effectively saying that the doors to their building are secret, only a few thousand developers (and anyone else who is willing to purchase the SDK) are allowed to know where those doors are.

    Yes, it sounds silly because the Apple NDA argument is silly.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    hegemon13, Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 6:16am

    Already public

    Isn't any patented part of the OS already public? It has to be disclosed in detail in the patent itself, right? So, if they are worried about already-patented information, how is it secret? And how does an NDS protect it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    TX CHL Instructor (profile), Oct 2nd, 2008 @ 7:13am

    "so that others don't steal our work"

    ...like we did with the work of Xerox PARC...
    www.chl-tx.com Without the 2nd Amendment, the rest of the document is just wishful thinking.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Michael Long, Oct 3rd, 2008 @ 9:11am

    Re: "so that others don't steal our work"

    You know that Xerox got Apple stock, right?

    How, again, is paying for something stealing?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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