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Student Claims Apple’s Wi-Fi Sync in iOS 5 is a Ripoff of His Rejected App

Posted in iOS on 09/06/2011 by James Britton

5s

Greg Hughes' logo on left, Apple's on right

According to a UK-based app developer, Apple has ripped off his Wi-Fi Sync iOS app that was rejected a year ago. Apple announced the availability of its own Wi-Fi Sync in iOS 5 at WWDC 2011 this week.

The Register quoting Greg Hughes, the developer and a student at the University of Birmingham:

I’d been selling my app with that name and icon for at least a year. Apple knew that, as I’d submitted it to them, so it was surprising to see that.

When Hughes’ app was rejected in May of last year he received a call from an Apple representative prior to the formal rejection letter stating that his app raised “unspecified security concerns” and used undocumented APIs.

They did say that the iPhone engineering team had looked at it and were impressed, they asked for my CV as well.

Fair enough that it was rejected due to undocumented APIs and “security concerns,” but Apple shouldn’t carbon-copy a developer’s app features, name and logo without attribution or compensation.

Hughes’ app has been for sale on Cydia, the app store for jailbroken iOS devices, for $9.99 and he has sold more than 50,000 copies. It’s safe to say he’s probably doing ok financially, but that does not excuse Apple from stealing his intellectual property.

I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this story.



  • Justin C.

    I feel if they have seen the app and rejected it, and he truly has had this app for over a year, this is indeed copyright infringement. This guy should sue, or request royalties for every iOS device that uses the new software. Now the guy will be rich

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      John’s comment, I think, is spot on.  The idea of being able to sync a phone over Wi-Fi is such a basic concept that it shoudn’t be subject to copyright – What about all the note-taking apps for iDevices?  Are they all infringing each other’s copyrights?  They all do the same thing…

  • john

    oh, this story again…

    if you ask 100 developers to create “an app that syncs your iphone over the air”, 99 of them will create the same thing.

    if you ask 100 designers to create a logo to “an app that syncs your iphone over the air”, 99 of them will create the same thing.

    • http://MacTrast.com J. Glenn Kunzler

      I think your response here is spot on, John.

  • Ah-Jota

    http://mashable.com/2010/06/23/steve-jobs-wi-fi-iphone-syncing/

    Apple has been working on this for well over a year now, I’m sure long before that link I’ve supplied was brought up. (which that was June of last year) And as John said, “wifi sync” is far too broad a term. If you’re going to bring “legality” into the equation then apple could sue Hughes for ripping off the iSync and wifi icons since those icons were around loooong before this kids wifi syncing application.

    My advice to Mr. Hughes would be to make a new awesome app that everyone wants, get a job at apple, or get over it.

James Britton

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James Britton

James first bit into Apple when his mom and dad bought an Apple IIe in 1986. He switched to Wintel in the mid 90s when Apple was in a tailspin and back again to an iBook in 2005 when things were looking brighter. Hopefully there is no turning back to the dark side now.

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