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.

Filed Under: apps, beer, copyright, iphone, virtual beer
Companies: coors, hottrix


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Oct 2008 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Ideas & Intellectual Property

    I understand classic economics quite well.

    Care to show it then? You state

    Incidentally, your "infinite" goods are not free. The equipment to make the copy is an investment, still quite substantial.
    That's a sunk cost that has nothing to do with market pricing of the product.


    The memory required to store the copy is, while relatively cheap, limited, unless you are transferring the copy to a flash drive, DVD or CD; in any case, STILL not free and certainly not infinite.

    Not infinite? So how many copies of MS Windows can be had in the world? I can download about 1000 on my computer with the only marginal cost increase being somewhat more electricity used by the spinning hard drive. And they can be easily replicated as many times as necessary. So for all practical purposes, it's an infinite good, you cannot say "ooops! I ran out of Windows, come back in a week when we make more!"

    And you know what, I can get all those 1000 copies for free online, so you are certainly wrong on that account. Unless you again meant to say "not free to create" which is irrelevant.

    If you are going to boast about having an MBA, you might want to make sure you don't get confused in concepts presented to you so easily. And probably ask for your money back.

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