Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
apps, beer, copyright, iphone, virtual beer

Companies:
coors, hottrix



Can You Really Own The Idea Of Making Your iPhone Look Like Beer?

from the drink-up! dept

It's time to raise your glasses in a toast to ridiculous intellectual property lawsuits. Or, if you don't have a tasty beverage on hand, perhaps a virtual one, say, on your iPhone? Well, unfortunately for you, that may be a problem -- as the latest ridiculous lawsuit concerns two competing virtual beer applications, both of which make your iPhone look like the side of a full beer glass, that will "drain" the beer, as you tilt the iPhone. Cute, gimmicky app, right? Except if you're a pissed off developer who seems to think that only one person should be allowed to make such an app. A company called Hottrix that made such an app is suing the beer company Coors for an astounding $12.5 million for offering up a similar app of its own.

Hottrix's app, iPint, cost money, whereas Coors (perhaps implicitly recognizing how infinite goods -- the silly app -- can help sell more scarce goods -- beer) gave its app, iBeer, away for free. The Coors version was more involved, as it also included a "game" where you needed to guide a sliding pint across a bar into some waiting hands. Hottrix's lawyers claim that the idea of such a virtual beer glass is copyrightable -- which seems fairly questionable. Concepts can't be covered by copyright. It needs to be the exact implementation, and as long as the Coors version was different, then it's difficult to see the copyright claim. Hottrix also pulls out the bogus argument that iPint hurt iBeer's sales. That's simply incorrect. It wasn't Coors that hurt Hottrix's sales, it was Hottrix, for having a bad business model. Competition isn't illegal.

But, of course, Apple in its infinite (loop) wisdom, removed the Coors app after Hottrix complained, thus protecting Hottrix from its own business model mistake. And yet, Hottrix still wants $12.5 million from Coors for daring to come up with a similar idea. You have to hope this gets thrown out of court quickly.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2008 @ 1:04pm

    Re: Re: FREE BEER

    The prices of physical goods are coming down relative to media because production costs are constantly improving due to improved technology, convergence, efficiencies of scale, etc... Take computers for example, 25 years ago a computer as powerful as your cell phone would have cost you several thousand dollars. Cell phones are something else that are now much less expernsive than they were 25 years ago. Now think about how much you paid to go to the movies 25 years ago. Think about how much you paid for CDs 25 years ago.

    Do you see where I'm going with this? Media is more valuable now because people are willing to pay more for it today than they paid in the past.

    I still do not see how you can claim something is an infinte good when the creation of that good takes resources (creativity, time, etc..) No good that consumes resources in its creation (which is everything) is infinite. In the case of media (and software) the duplication costs are very small but there are NOT zero. But you aren't paying for the duplication, you are paying for the production of the media.

    My post was obviously tongue in cheek, but I tried to make the point that you keep refering to products as infinite goods when in fact they are not infinite. For example, there may be an infinite number of songs available but I don't want to listen to complete crap, I want GOOD music. Artists who create GOOD music deserve to be compensated for their creation of GOOD music, I will not purchase music from artists who create CRAP music. I suppose in this example music is an infinite good, but GOOD music is CLEARLY NOT. Just as there are an infinite number of web sites with opinions on them, but people perceive value in your site because they assume you have an informed opinion. However, if you keep calling everything an infinite good, they may no longer perceive your opinion to be anything other than CHEAP.

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