As some of you may know we recently submitted StarTime, our Star Trek themed clock to the App Store. We were confident we wouldn’t have any problems getting it approved, although it’s obviously inspired by Star Trek (the classic original series rather than the latest movie), it’s not a rip-off, trading on the Star Trek name.
It doesn’t use the phrase Star Trek or any official imagery – it’s obviously a homage to the original series rather than a cheap cash in. In fact many people that saw it in development didn’t even realise there was a Star Trek connection.
So we were obviously surprised and disappointed to receive the following email from Apple:
‘We’ve reviewed StarTime and determined that we cannot post your application because it appears to contain features, namely, material from Star Trek (Paramount) that bear a resemblance to a well-known third-party mark.
Please remember that pursuant to your agreement with Apple, you represent and warrant that your application does not infringe the rights of another party, and that you are responsible for any liability to Apple because of a claim that your application infringes another party’s rights. Moreover, we may reject or remove your application for any reason, in our sole discretion.’
To make matters worse a quick glance through the App Store reveals several apps are far more obviously ‘bear a resemblance to‘ Star Trek. Have a look at Trek Clock(!), Daxhotel and Tricorder TR-580 all of which use both the name Star Trek and logos and photography from the shows in their content and App Store descriptions. There’s a host of other phaser and tricorder apps also available that I would say are closer in spirit to StarTime ie. inspired by, rather than claiming any direct connection.
I suppose what’s most annoying is the lack of consistency in the approval process – why accept one app and reject another when the concepts are so similar? We’d done our homework and seen other Star Trek inspired apps available so didn’t think we’d have a problem. Let’s face it, with app sales being what they are these days, we’d have been lucky to break even on it anyway let alone run laughing to the bank. Only the real Trek fans would have recognised and appreciated StarTime for what it was.
Are Apple so frightened of legal action? StarTime was developed in conjunction with www.lcarscom.net, a successful Star Trek fan site that has been running for years without a hint of law suite.
Anyway, what do you guys think – is this a fair decision on Apple’s part or yet another App Store snafu? We’ll go back to Apple emphasizing the points made in this blog and see what happens – watch this space (no pun intended).