App Store Devs Flaunt Copyright Troll With Name Changes

critter_credgeiPhone devs are a rebellious bunch, and they don’t like to be bullied by anyone other than their Apple, which both frustrates and affirms their existence. Now, in light of what some might call a campaign being waged against the App Store by a well-known trademark troll, many iPhone devs are protesting what they see as Apple’s cowardice in the face of unjust threats.

According to TUAW, the trademark troll in question is none other than Tim Langdell, founder of the “gaming company” Edge Games. In reality, Edge Games produces very little beyond copyright infringement suits, which it launches against any and all games that feature the word “edge” in their title. EA’s Mirror’s Edge recently fell between Langdell’s crosshairs, for example, despite the fact that the game itself bears no similarity to any of Edge Games’ roster of “planned” titles.

Apparently the App Store has been a prime target for Tim Langdell and Edge Games. Reports claim that all he has to do is contact Apple and let them know that a game is in violation of his trademarks — which again, basically means it has “edge” somewhere in the title — and Apple pulls the game without much fuss. No doubt Apple just doesn’t want to deal with yet another legal battle that could ensue if Langdell gets the opportunity to take things beyond the cease-and-desist phase, but this really seems unfair to honest game devs who actually work for their money.

In protest, a group of iPhone devs are changing the names of their games to include “edge” in the titles, with the desired outcome being that Apple will realize that to continue just disallowing the word completely will significantly affect the App Store’s catalog of offerings. So, for example, Canabalt becomes “Canabedge,” the Eliss sequel becomes “Edgeliss” and Critter Crunch becomes “Critter Credge.” All of the changes mentioned haven’t actually been made to the apps in the store, but on developer web sites as a show of solidarity.

Even though this particular protest limits itself to the area beyond Apple’s sphere of control, it does demonstrate a promising solution to App Store bully tactics. If developers could organize in a similar manner, but with bigger numbers and with the support of some of the pillars of the App Store, they could more effectively combat unfair policies. Apple will be less likely to anger content producers if it has potential ramifications across its catalog. Let’s see a developers rights advocacy group come to pass, so articles about the injustices of the App Store can become a more infrequent occurrence.

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