A cautionary tale is being served up today by our friends from AppVault, who shared for all to see on their website that Apple pulled the plug on "AppVault" in the App Store because the competitors from "AppBox" issued a complaint and notified Apple.
Late last night, we found out that AppVault was removed from the App Store – because our main competitor, AppBox, complained that AppVault was too similar and infringed on their copyright.
First, a point on US copyright law. In the US you can’t copyright ideas – rather copyright protects things like code, images, etc. All of the code and artwork in AppVault was developed by us from scratch – so there is no real issue there.
We provided the marketplace with better value, and a better product, which was our genuine intent – and it seemed our customers agreed. Two days ago we passed AppBox in the rankings in the App Store, and both reviewers and bloggers consistently agreed that AppVault was a far better deal. This was great – we felt like we had succeeded in our goal to provide the best value in the App Store. However, the developer of AppBox submitted a complaint to Apple that our apps were too similar and demanded for AppVault to be pulled from the App Store. Although we pointed out that his demands were not grounded in copyright law and even worked with him to address some of his issues, about a week later Apple pulled us from the store without even talking to us first or providing a reason.
Although I appreciate Apple wanting to stay out of a dispute between two rivals, the policy to pull an app from the store on complaint by a rival isn’t impartial – it is taking sides. It allows an app developer to dictate the marketplace, forcing a poorer quality product on Apple’s customers and taking away a customer’s right to choose.