Apple Confirms They're Not Trying To Kill Third-Party Apps With Patents

Reading over the comments on our post (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?) about the Apple patent diagram fiasco last week, you would have thought Apple was the most evil company in the world. Many believed that Apple was attempting to patent ideas that third-party developers came up with. Essentially, the thought was that Apple was trying to steal from their own developer community — and were doing so that blatantly. I mean, people actually believed that.

As we noted at the time, this was not likely the case. Instead, Apple was probably just using diagrams of existing third-party apps for examples of other things they were actually trying to patent. Lo and behold, today comes word from the third-party developer at the center of all of this confirming this to be the case.

FutureTap, the app house behind the app Where To? confirms that Apple’s Senior Patent Counsel reached out with the following statement:

As discussed, Apple is contemplating steps to attribute the screenshot in the patent application to FutureTap. The patent application in question does not claim as inventive the pictured user interface nor the general concept of an integrated travel services application. We appreciate your taking time out to discuss the matter and will keep you updated.

In other words: no we’re not trying to patent your idea. We just needed an example app to use and chose yours. Sorry we didn’t use attribution in the filing, in the future, we’ll try to figure out a way to do that.

In response, the developer notes, “We feel honored over this mention and appreciate that Apple is looking into a proper attribution of the screenshot. In retrospective, I can say we wouldn‘t ever have considered the story alarming had the screenshot included a short attribution notice.”

So there you go. Case closed.

Still, it’s rather amusing that people actually did believe that Apple (or any other company) would attempt to do this. That’s not to say companies never do malicious things (perhaps even bordering on evil), but come on — if Apple had actually been doing this, no developer in their right mind would ever develop for their platform ever again. It wouldn’t be a gray area. It just wouldn’t happen. All developers would walk away. And as a result, all customers would walk away. Apple would be screwed.

Further, other diagrams in the same patent depict apps by established big companies like Ralph Lauren. Does anyone really think that Apple would so blatantly try to steal from them as well? I mean, one of the diagrams says RALPH LAUREN in huge letters.

I hear that Apple has a killer Spring 2011 line of designer dresses in the product pipeline. “Killer” is the key word there.