Yo, the simplified messaging app backed by an optimistic $1.5 million in funding, has apparently had it with the clones. The company is now trying to get the parody app YOLO and other similar efforts removed from the App Store by filing a complaint with Apple, claiming copyright and trademark infringement.
Yo…YOLO? Surely you can see the potential consumer confusion?
According to the complaint, Yo founder Or Arbel says that YOLO is “a complete fake copy of our Yo app.”
That may be true, but the YOLO app is also a bit of a joke. Explains Betty Xi, one of the team members who helped create YOLO, their app was built to “poke fun at Yo.”
Like most of us, Xi was mystified by Yo’s seemingly too-high valuation.
“With a product as fragile as Yo and the app being so easily duplicated, how can people claim this product is worth $10 million?,” she asks.
The YOLO app, in case you haven’t seen it, is basically a Yo knock-off that also allows users to send “time.” That is, along with your YOLO message, you can send virtual hours and minutes to a friend, which is sort of an odd concept. Xi says that it’s “more of a game and competition,” and the only resemblance to Yo is the user interface.
The YOLO app, she notes, only took three days to build.
“YOLO is entirely different from Yo,” she adds.
We wouldn’t go quite that far, however. The app’s user interface, like many of Yo’s clones, is nearly identical. It even has a purple app icon. And the concept of pushing a friend’s name to notify them via an audio alert is also something Yo, for better or for worse, helped pioneer. And the name YOLO does have “Yo” in it, I guess.
But from what we’re hearing, other Yo clones, like Yo, Hodor!, YoFrom, and AHOY (hey, wait…that’s “yo” backwards in there!) have not received similar notices at this time. [UPDATE: see below. Other apps are now receiving these notices.]
The team at YOLO says they don’t plan on pulling their app from the App Store.
Yo’s creator, Or Arbel, has offered the following response:
As the pioneer of a concept, Yo has spawned many clones, though most of the clones offer something slightly different, some of them are a complete replication of the Yo app. Even the App Store description was copied word by word. We value creativity and we are in a free market. Improving upon our concept is welcomed, copying us bit-by-bit isn’t.
Below, the notification from Apple:
Dear Sir or Madam,
**Please include APP38873 in the subject line of any future correspondence on this matter.**
On 7/18/2014, we received a notice from Life Before Us LLC that Life Before Us LLC believes the app listed below infringes their intellectual property rights. In particular, Life Before Us LLC believes you are infringing their copyright and trademark. Please see their comments below.
Developer: Modastic Groupe
Provider: Modastic Groupe
App Title: YOLO – Send your friends time.
Apple ID: 892920344
Comments from Complainant: The app is a complete fake copy of our Yo app
You can reach Life Before Us LLC through Or Arbel (email: [redacted]), copied on this email.
We look forward to receiving written assurance that your application does not infringe Life Before Us LLC’s rights, or that the parties are taking steps to promptly resolve the matter. Please keep us apprised of your progress.
Should you choose to remove your application, (for example, while you make any necessary changes) use the steps provided below.
Visit iTunes Connect at http://itunesconnect.apple.com
1) Access your app in the Manage Your Applications module.
2) Click on the “Rights and Pricing” button from the App Summary Page.
3) Click on the “Deselect All” button to uncheck all App Store territories.
4) Click on the “Save Changes” button.
We look forward to receiving confirmation that the matter has been resolved.
Thank you for your immediate attention.
“This is a direct clone of our app Yo and based on the terms of agreement in the iTunes app store, it should be removed.”
Worst of all, the hilarious Yo, Hodor!, clearly a parody of Yo, has also received the notice. And in its case, the developer has removed the app from the App Store.
UPDATE 2: More apps have now received this same complaint, including Oi, Sup and YoFrom, the latter who responded, “this is horribly inaccurate and untrue as YoFrom is entirely its own entity and bares no similarity in functionality or design to Yo nor does it infringe on their trademark.”
The creators of Sup also added: “Though we do plan on taking down our app Sup eventually, since it was just meant to be a parody and we have our other more popular apps to focus on, we believe that Yo is using scare tactics to spread fear and doubt, and trying to prevent competition in the App Store, which is setting a bad precedent.”