Like many folks, I recently got the Pebble smartwatch that I ordered through Kickstarter (still the highest grossing Kickstarter project ever). I've played around with a few of the different watch face options, but hadn't noticed this until another Pebble owner (and Techdirt reader), Tim K
, alerted us to the fact that a bunch of watch faces designed by the community (not Pebble itself) that had been available for free have been removed
due to copyright claims, including some of the top rated, most popular watch faces. Illusion, seen as taken down below, is still the 4th most popular watch face, and was as high as the top 3 just recently (I would imagine that having it taken down will hurt its popularity).
In a forum post, the creator of that watch face, and a bunch of others, notes that TokyoFlash issued the takedown request
, claiming copyright infringement. That led to a (mostly ill-informed) debate on the copyright of watch faces (including the factually incorrect claim by one person that you have to enforce you copyrights in every case or you risk losing them). It also resulted in a number of people noting that they would never buy a TokyoFlash watch now because, really, who wants to support a copyright bully?
Of course, this sort of thing is not exactly unprecedented, even if it does seem ridiculous. Just last year we wrote about the Swiss Railway Service (SBB) accusing Apple
of trademark and copyright infringement because of a clock face in the clock app in iOS6 that is strikingly similar to the SBB's iconic clock.
Even if these claims are legit from a legal standpoint, it seems rather silly and extreme to issue such a takedown. Sure, TokyoFlash will claim that the Pebble is a competing watch, but does anyone really think that someone who was thinking of buying a TokyoFlash watch would suddenly switch to a Pebble because of the interface? It seems likely that issuing the takedown will do more to drive potential customers away from TokyoFlash than the availability of the watch face on Pebble ever could.