A start-up software developer that’s suing Apple for allegedly “sherlocking” its app has called on other developers to revolt against Apple claiming strong-arm tactics by the App Store owner.
Blix is complaining of being “sherlocked” by Apple. The small start-up says it added a feature to its BlueMail email management app back in August 2018 that gave users the ability to sign in to websites with an anonymous email. Then, at WWDC in June 2019, Apple unveiled a similar feature within its “Sign in with Apple” service allowing users to sign into websites without revealing their actual email address. Blix alleges Apple took its ideas “without permission, payment, or credit.”
[Blix] sued Apple in October for patent infringement and illegal monopolisation, claiming that in addition to copying its function, Apple “suppressed” its iPhone app in search results and ejected its desktop app from the app store altogether… Apple said it ejected BlueMail from the MacOS store because of security concerns. “We have attempted on multiple occasions to assist [Blix] in getting their BlueMail app back on the Mac App Store,” Apple said.
Blix is not the only small company to complain about Apple developing its own version of an existing app or function. The practice became known as “Sherlocking” in the early 2000s after Apple updated its desktop search tool, Sherlock, with features that also appeared in an app called Watson. Since then, there have been dozens of occasions when Apple has introduced features first pioneered by others…
Blix said it decided to call for developers to take on Apple after a Congressional hearing in Colorado last month suggested that antitrust concerns were gaining traction.
MacDailyNews Take: Competition is not illegal. Companies, including Apple, are allowed to try to make better mousetraps.
Blix’s court filing claims that “multiple different types of Apple app competitors enjoyed a sudden, unexplained rise in search rankings” roughly two weeks after a New York Times article examined how Apple ranked its own apps higher than competitors’. Of course, the explanation could be as simple as the idea that Apple undertook a review after seeing the NYT article and found an error or errors which they then corrected. Hanlon’s Razor. We’ll await Apple’s explanation of why the App Store rankings jumped should this go to trial.