Friday, December 27, 2019 [Tweets] [Favorites]

BlueMail Rejected From the Mac App Store

Julian Chokkattu (Hacker News):

A few days later, still reeling from the shock of seeing the technology they patented announced on the world stage, the Volach brothers’ email app, BlueMail, was removed from the Mac App Store. Coincidence? They don’t think so.

[…]

Last year, the app was found to be sending users’ passwords to the developers, but the company issued an update that reportedly rectified the issue and claims it doesn’t store emails or passwords on its servers.

[…]

In this resubmission, the team asked Apple to “elaborate on which apps you find similar, so we can look into it and take action if required.” Yet BlueMail was rejected again, with Apple citing the app duplicated content available on the App Store. After asking again for more clarity, a few days later Apple finally said BlueMail is duplicating TypeApp.

“BlueMail and TypeApp were never duplicate applications—but they certainly could not be “duplicates” on June 4, 2019, that were “currently available on the App Store” when TypeApp for Mac had already been voluntarily removed weeks earlier,” according to the lawsuit.

No matter how you look at this, it’s odd that both apps are approved for the iOS App Store but not the Mac App Store. How did they get a patent for an e-mail relay? And why haven’t they made a Developer ID version of the app?

Ben Volach:

This isn’t our first time facing unfair practices as a developer for Apple devices. Our iPhone app was unfairly ranked until The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and others exposed how the App Store manipulated search results. Overnight, its ranking went from #143 to #13.

Previously:

8 Comments

"And why haven’t they made a Developer ID version of the app?" is an excellent question, and I wondered about that when I first saw this article.

A patent to use fake/alternative emails to communicate? I was doing this with yahoo ten years ago. Surely this is both prior art and ‘obvious” and invalid. As for banning in the App Store that is bad for them, but where do they get the right to sue? Apple is a private company, where is the legal right to force another company to let you use it to make your own private profit? Reads as a bit of a froth piece.

@James The lawsuit is for patent infringement, not for the App Store.

So they patented something Sneakemail has been doing since 2000? Somehow I doubt the patent suit will hold up, unless it is somehow not related to an anonymous email proxy.

Thanks for the response. Yes I know they are two different issues. On the first I was saying that the patent claim did not seem particularly viable given prior art etc. on the second issue of the App Store I don’t see a viable legal course of action. Overall I don’t see they have much of a legal claim. On the issue of whether they have a moral claim, well, I don’t see much for that as well.

I re-read the article, you are right, they are not making a legal claim on the App Store, just a moral one, I guess my position is the same, I don’t really see why they have one, on the basis above.

Sorry you are right the claim on the App Store was only a moral claim, not a legal one, although my case is the same, on a moral basis on don’t see they have a claim.

@James L
I have no opinion on this software but to say "As for banning in the App Store that is bad for them, but where do they get the right to sue? Apple is a private company, where is the legal right to force another company to let you use it to make your own private profit? Reads as a bit of a froth piece," seems to be missing a different point. If Apple is ruled to be a monopoly, as separate legal cases have claimed, then yes, Apple will likely have to open up their app store. Furthermore, Apple wants to be the sole arbiter of software on the app store, but does not want to be legally responsible for copyright infringement, patent infringement, or any of the other things they likely should have forfeited protection against given safe harbor should not apply to editorial controlled sites. Apple wants to have their cake and eat it to and it is far past time for regulation to step up to the challenge.

I am not terribly sympathetic to Apple's world view, but I could stipulate to your point, with this caveat, smart business would be to avoid the Apple app stores altogether and use an "open" platform like Android. Now, who does that hurt more? No Netflix, no Gmail, no Kindle, no Facebook, no games, etc. This developer maybe has a moral argument, but I likewise agree their patent argument seems tenuous at best.

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