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Did Apple steal the Wi-Fi Sync feature for iOS 5 from a developer whose similar app was rejected?

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Did Apple steal the Wi-Fi Sync feature for iOS 5 from a developer whose similar app was rejected?
When Apple recently introduced iOS 5, it mentioned a new feature called "Wi-Fi Sync". This allows an iOS user with a device connected to a power source to automatically sync and back-up the device to iTunes via a Wi-Fi connection. To University of Birmingham student Greg Hughes, this sounded awfully familiar. Hughes had submitted an app to the App Store with the same exact name and practically the same logo that Apple rolled out earlier last week. Unfortunately, Apple had rejected the submission.

After rejecting Hughes' app for the App Store, an Apple representative called to tell him that while the app technically did not break any rules, it did "encroach upon the boundaries" of what can be offered in the App Store. Hughes didn't drop the project, instead he listed his app in the Cydia store aimed at jail-broken devices and sold over 50,000 copies of his "Wi-Fi Sync".

Greg Hughes, developer of the rejected

Greg Hughes, developer of the rejected "Wi-Fi Sync" with his logo(on top) and Apple's logo

When the student learned about Apple's introduction of its "Wi-Fi Sync", he was shocked and surprised. Hughes had been selling his version of "Wi-Fi Sync for a year. Apple had known about his software and he felt that the Cupertino-based firm had "pinched it for iOS 5". And while the App Store representative he spoke on the phone with last year had told him how impressed with his work the iPhone engineering team was, Hughes has received some legal advice and plans on defending himself and his work.

As the App Store continues to grow, it might be harder and harder for Apple to avoid stepping on the toes of small developers like Greg Hughes, which makes this a legal matter to watch as it moves through the legal system. If it does become a lawsuit,we would not be surprised to see Apple offer a settlement to make it go away.

source: AppleInsider


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posted on 11 Jun 2011, 12:24 15

1. gaby1451 (Posts: 113; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


Oh he should totally get in on this. This is a blatant copy of his app and he needs to make an example of this that developers will not be pushed around.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 16:19 5

19. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Of course, iFanboys who disagree with you will probably be the ones who were in favor of "making an example of" the teenager who got white iPhone 4 parts and made and sold conversion kits out of them.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 16:19 4

20. Fanboys Suck (Posts: 609; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)


Serious, so those bastards. I really like Apple products, their ethics as a company suck hardcore.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 12:42 1

51. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


The apple tv has had wifi syncing since 2007. They didnt have to copy anything. You could actually argue he stole the idea from apple, or any other app out there that does this already for other platforms. There's nothing special or unique about this app to warrant the need to copy it, especially for a company that spends as much on R&D as apple.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 21:45 1

61. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


honestly, this is a general idea... this is super general... wifi syncing? wp7 does it.. android does it.. is ios not allowed to do it cause this guy did it... what about the the others? but ya, just give him some money and he will be happy... idk apple wud win it in court but they will probably just be nice and offer a deal

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 21:49 1

63. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


oh ya, and if this was specific enough that it wud be stealing, wudnt the guy have a copyright?

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 17:52

72. DylanDinh (Posts: 10; Member since: 13 Jun 2011)


we're living in the USA dude? what are you asking for is mental copyright which mean an idea automatically become a copyright if you have a proof to prove that. For example: take a picture and print it out with you name and date on it. It's also call your own property and you have a right to sue anyone who take that picture away from you and put their name on it. you're welcome:)

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 23:09

75. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


yes, i understand, but as i said they just need to check the code... cause like so many times in history, u can copy someones idea if u use it in ur own way and they arent smart enough to protect it... but ya, apple shud give him a few thousand or something

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 01:47 1

65. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


This IS a very specific functionality. The functionality is wifi syncing to iTunes while on a power source. It's not a general wifi sync function.

And we don't know if the guy has a patent, which could arguably and sadly sink his entire case. But it won't erase the fact of the matter, which is that the evidence points to Apple stealing a good idea that someone else had and giving no one else the credit.

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 16:48

70. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


this is sooooo general though... and they shud check the code... cause if it is the same then ya they stole but if not then it is obviously general enough that they cud make their own...

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 12:24 12

2. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


When other companies see someone do something extraordinary that they should have thought of, they hire the person or buy the rights to the person's creation. Apple just gives them the finger and walks away with the creation.

Best way to tell if they completely stole his idea would be to see if the code is about the same.

Btw, I wonder how the iFanboys will defend this one.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 12:45 6

5. AppleFUD (unregistered)


Generally speaking you are right on. I read an article a little while back about some developers making a media player for the Mac pre iTunes. Apple started iTunes and tried to hire them but they said no thanks, so apple highered a rival and blatantly took many of the features form the other media player and incorporated them into iTunes. The thing was, Apple was never straight about it to the devs. They wanted to hire them but didn't tell them. . . oh, btw, we are developing a direct competitor to your media player with all your IP. Just told them they loved their work and wanted to hire them--BS, buy the freaking product and stop trying to get off cheap.

Apple has been stealing blatantly from other companies and devs since day one. The slick thing about apple is, they convince their user base that they invented all this stolen IP.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 13:16 3

8. RORYREVOLUTION (Posts: 3042; Member since: 12 Jan 2010)


To the sheep apple can do no wrong. This kid had it coming they will say. I wish the isheep would drink the koolaid.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 17:26

23. Hallucinator (Posts: 344; Member since: 24 May 2010)


Probably the same way Android fanboys defend Android everytime they steal an idea. Get off your high horse jack ass

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 17:44 7

25. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


When is the last time Android stole an idea from a developer and kicked them to the curb? Yeah, didn't think so. Nice use of the word "jackass" though.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 21:48 1

62. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


what about android in general... didnt they steal javame code and are getting sued by oracle?

and geez i mean if we say this wifi sync thing is a copyright cant we say android multitasking is a copy off of backgrounder?

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 01:49

66. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Android didn't steal java from an independent developer. And Oracle itself didn't develop Java.

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 23:10

76. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


ya but they still stole it... and oracle bought java just to sue android... haha

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 23:58

77. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


They used Java, but a lot of applications use it. They didn't say they invented Java, they just used their code, supposedly without proper licensing. But the matter hasn't been entirely cleared up yet.

posted on 14 Jun 2011, 00:45

78. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


basically u just said stealing in a nice way...

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 03:39 1

34. stealthd (unregistered)


There's nothing extraordinary about this app. If you honestly think there's a chance a company as large as apple would steal code for such a simple feature then you're nuts.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 04:21 4

35. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


When the company is Apple, and when the code is good enough for Apple to compliment the kid over it, and when another solution would take a long time and a different workaround to figure out, I find it plausible.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 11:50 2

47. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


The jailbreak app is a workaround. Apple's app isn't. Apple built wifi syncing into iTunes, there's no way they used the same workaround as this app.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 07:55 1

40. corps1089 (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Jan 2010)


It's not the code that matters, its the idea.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 11:51 3

48. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


The Apple TV has had wifi syncing since 2007. This app has been out for a year. So using the same flimsy correlation as this article, you could argue the developer actually copied Apple.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 12:30 7

3. lolz (unregistered)


This kid does not have resources for a lawsuit, Apple knows this. So they stole his work and will offer him SCRAPS to shut him up. Hey maybe he gets free iPhone 5. lol!

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 15:51 1

17. bossmt_2 (Posts: 437; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


Someone will take this case as it's a slam dunk for settlement and they'll get paid a percentage.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 16:01 1

18. remixfa (Posts: 14178; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)


all they have to do is have a lawyer find an independant coder familiar with apple app language and compare the original code to apple's code. If its extremely similar apple will find themselves in a lawsuit pretty quickly as any decent lawyer will take the case on a "i get paid if we get paid" basis, knowing there is like a 90% chance of a quick settlement by apple for probably 6 figures or more.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 02:38 2

32. lolz (unregistered)


It will come down to who OWNS a patent(s) and not an actual CODE.

Patent infringement IS big $$$ for any lawyer.

If there is/are no patent(s), then all the kid will get is ,,I,,

Sad, sad day for him tho, to see this happen to him.

posted on 13 Jun 2011, 18:00

73. DylanDinh (Posts: 10; Member since: 13 Jun 2011)


lol, If I were that kid I will try to sue apple until death instead of taking their iPhone 5.. Why? because I will become a millionaire because of that.. it's a way better than $599.99 and ~$650 included taxes teehee :P

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 12:39

4. G-Reg (unregistered)


Im sure there is an iHater lawyer somewhere wanting a taste of that possible settlement.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 12:53 9

6. DroogV59 (Posts: 37; Member since: 02 Jun 2011)


Samsung should hire young Mr Hughs and put their corporate legal team at his disposal. Wouldn't that be fun?

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 05:31 1

37. anirudhshirsat97 (Posts: 400; Member since: 24 May 2011)


super like to you..!

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 13:15 5

7. ATTCallCenter (unregistered)


I wish I was even smart enough to make something to be stolen by such a large company. It's a great compliment but the same a slap in the face to get jacked for your work. Best to get a lawyer and sue the shit out of Apple

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 13:27

9. gallitoking (Posts: 4690; Member since: 17 May 2011)


if something Apples does good besides advertising their products... is they know what are they doing.. they use what they can have.. they steal things they can get away with... is not ethical. but is business,... and that most people around here dont get it... is not good versus evil.. is pure business... and in that world money talks...

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 18:18 7

27. aztaxia12295 (Posts: 266; Member since: 22 Nov 2009)


stealing isn't a business, its a crime

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 13:43 1

10. BigEaze22 (Posts: 25; Member since: 17 May 2011)


apple needs to learn that after all the stuff they take from these companies, they can't just claim the other company stole it. now they want to steal from the people who help them? I still remember they tried to pull this on samsung and got found out when it turned out it was actually them copying samsung. that's sad

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 12:50 3

53. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


I don't think you understand how technology companies work. For unpatented ideas tech companies are constantly copying each other all the time. Apple doesn't do this any more than any other company, their products are just consistently more successful so they tend to be under much higher scrutiny.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 13:47 2

11. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Apple....Apple....Apple....

I said on Engadget he should sue the hell outta Apple. They should have known about icons, right? Some folks said Apple has been using that icon for years.

If thats the case....why didnt they ever come after the dev for using the icon...

No matter what the details are about this, it gonna look like bad press for Apple unless some new developments come out.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 14:40 2

13. spinelessrabbit (Posts: 35; Member since: 28 Dec 2010)


I dont even care for apple products

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 14:40 5

14. Whateverman (Posts: 3233; Member since: 17 May 2009)


It looks like this guy has a case and if he does I hope he wins. These developers make our phones much of what they are, and like it or not without developers the iPhone is just a really nice feature phone. I think Apple should settle with this guy, pay him the millions that he deserves, because it's no longer just an app. It's a part of iOS now, so he deserves his fair share of the royalties.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 13:38 2

55. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


There is no way a wifi syncing app deserves "millions". He already made $500,000 off of a missing feature (the article failed to mention that he sold the app for $10 a pop). There is no case here. He got his money, the only reason a suit would go forward is so he could make more money, not out of any wrongdoing.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 15:04 2

56. Whateverman (Posts: 3233; Member since: 17 May 2009)


Why wouldn't it? If Apple stole this guy's work, and they're about to sell millions of copies of it on the ip4s/5 or whatever, why wouldn't he get royalties for each phone they sell. Or buy it from him. It doesn't matter how much he made before his work was stolen, the fact is they are going to benefit from his work and should pay for it. I just hope he patented it.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 16:27 1

57. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


Apple created WebKit, the backbone of pretty much every built-in mobile browser. They started the Firewire standard and popularized USB. Do you honestly think they would copy code that is so easy to functionally duplicate? Just because Apple deprecated his app doesn't mean they owe him anything. And as I've said previously, Apple already had Wifi syncing built into the Apple TV in 2007 (3 years prior to this app being available). So there's no possible way they copied him. He made plenty of money off it already, just because he makes one app doesn't mean Apple can never add that functionality to their OS.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 23:01 1

64. Whateverman (Posts: 3233; Member since: 17 May 2009)


There are just too many unanswered questions here to say what what they did or didn't do. I don't know that Apple stole this idea, and just because a similar idea was used on one of Apple's products, doesn't mean they own the rights to the patent. And Apple did help develop the webkit browser, but they didn't do it alone. There are other programmers out there who are just as innovative as the good people at Apple. And I don't assume that Apple would steal an idea from those people. Hopeful, there wasn't any idea stolen from this guy. But IF their was, Apple should pay.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 14:44 2

15. guest (unregistered)


Its a shame that in either case of good press or bad press about apple nobody cares. The general public isn't going to boycott apple for ripping this kid off. The real justice that apple deserves for the bullshit it pulls on competitors and even loyal customers is for people to stop buying their products. Unfortunately as long as features work and make the device easier to use, most ppl don't care how they came to be. hopefully this kid can afford some representation and at least get a decent settlement out of the deal. Apple is stale they will fizzle out in the years to come on their own.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 15:14 1

16. gallitoking (Posts: 4690; Member since: 17 May 2011)


there is a diference in getting what he deserves and getting what he thinks he deserve..... and we may never know the answer to those questions..... he will be compensated for his efforts for sure.. Apple needed him as much as he needed Apple.. I mean lets be fair... on it ....they will settle off court and the next Apple will again be a sucess and this incident in a few weeks nobody will even remeber this...

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 16:24 3

21. Hi (unregistered)


People people...didnt you know it's APPLE they dont steal they invented ! like Multitouch?? now be quiet and sit down:)

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 16:54 1

22. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)


Good luck fighting apples 100 expensive lawyers

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 18:58

28. jbash (Posts: 342; Member since: 07 Feb 2011)


facebook's expensive lawyers couldn't avoid settlement with the twins. just saying.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 00:20

31. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Hell of a settlement it was though, and something those douches the Winklevosses have been fighting to overturn ever since.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 17:29

24. Hallucinator (Posts: 344; Member since: 24 May 2010)


You people are F!@#ing pathetic. I haven't seen one person on here defending what Apple did, but you guys are just full of speculation. Man did Apple rape your sister or something?

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 17:48 9

26. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


Yes. It was a traumatic experience. And Steve Jobs...he just sat there, held her down, and laughed...

But seriously. We make reasonable predictions based on experience. In our experience, there are a select group of iFanboys who will come in and defend EVERY SINGLE UNETHICAL THING APPLE DOES. They usually take the weekend off though, so it's just a matter of timing.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 22:30

30. jroc74 (Posts: 5192; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Should we?

I did bring up that some ppl said Apple was using that icon for years. By saying that one could assume I was implying this might not be as bad as it seems.

Um....anything people dont know about the full story is always gonna be speculation. Like when ppl speculate about the Google vs. Oracle lawsuit. Like ppl that speculate about the Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit.

Ppl speculate all the time in phone articles, threads about phones that havent came out yet.

posted on 11 Jun 2011, 19:08

29. CRICKETownz (Posts: 980; Member since: 24 Oct 2009)


Who cares if they stole it...as long as I can use it that would be grrrrrreat! I would sue the piss out of Snapple though.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 03:36 1

33. stealthd (unregistered)


Seriously? This is apple hater click-bate at it's finest.

The developers app was rejected because it used unauthorized APIs, not so apple could steal it. His app spoofs iTunes into thinking an iPhone is connected over USB, its ingenuitive to be sure, but it's obviously something apple would reject. I highly doubt he was truly shocked or surprised at any of this, he'd have to be a total moron to not see this coming.

This is an extremely simple feature. Theres nothing particularly interesting or unique about this app other than it provides functionality that apple has neglected until ios 5 There is zero evidence that apple stole his code, and to think a company as large as apple would have to copy the code or even the idea of such a simple feature is absurd.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 04:25 2

36. Sniggly (Posts: 7183; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)


They said the same thing about the intermittent windshield wiper.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 11:53 1

49. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


Well unlike the intermittent windshield wiper, there is prior art here: the Apple TV has had wifi syncing since 2007.

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 08:05 4

41. corps1089 (Posts: 492; Member since: 20 Jan 2010)


hey, stealthd, that is not the reasons apple reported gave when rejecting the app. The story says, "an Apple representative called to tell him that while the app technically did not break any rules, it did "encroach upon the boundaries" of what can be offered in the App Store."
nothing about unauthorized APIs or spoofing usb connections.

I guess speculation is allowed when supporting apple, but not allowed when criticizing apple...

posted on 12 Jun 2011, 11:55 1

50. stealthd (Posts: 980; Member since: 12 Jun 2011)


The story is extremely lacking. The sync function is in fact an unauthorized API, which is why there are no apps in the app store that allow you to sync the phone (they can sync themselves, but they cannot sync other apps, especially Apple's apps). I'm not just speculating, these are facts.

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