After Steve Jobs debuted the iPhone to scores of Apple devotees at Macworld
last week, crafty coders wasted no time in creating iPhone look-alike
interfaces for competing handsets.
Now Apple, a company long revered in the tech industry for being able to
whip its fans into a frenzy with each new product announcement, is cracking
the whip on those making the skins for Windows Mobile and Palm handheld devices.
Cease and Desist
Paul O'Brien, founder of MoDaCo.com, is the first to make headlines after
getting smacked with a cease-and-desist letter from Apple's legal team
shortly after he posted a screenshot of the new device on his site.
"While we appreciate your interest in the iPhone," the letter states, "the icons and screenshot displayed on your Web site are copyrighted by Apple, and copyright law
explicitly prohibits unauthorized display and distribution of copyrighted
The letter demands that O'Brien remove the screenshot from his Web site
immediately and "refrain from facilitating the further dissemination of
Apple's copyrighted material."
Apple's litigious moves should come as no surprise, said Michael Gartenberg,
vice president and research director at Jupiter Research.
"Apple wants to make sure no one is ripping off its product, or its ideas,"
he said, adding that Apple has taken similar action before with
folks who created iPod-like interfaces for use on smartphones.
"In general, user experience is one of the core points of Apple's
intellectual property," said Gartenberg. "And they want to protect it."
Gartenberg also said he has mixed opinions on whether Apple's legal moves will stave
off would-be hackers. "I think in some cases it will," he said.
"At the end of the day, we'll see how it goes. We'll see how aggressive Apple will be."