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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
58,660
22,255


Recombu publicizes complaints from App Store developers about other users "squatting" on application names, taking advantage of Apple's policy requiring that each application have a unique name to claim certain names for themselves without actually releasing an application. The issue was brought to light by iPhone game developers at Atomic Antelope who recently discovered that the name they desired for their latest iPhone game was unavailable despite there being no application by that name in the App Store.
Having spent months developing an app called 'Twitch', when it came to Atomic Antelope registering the app's name, it couldn't. Someone else had registered the name 'Twitch' but when Atomic Antelope looked to see if it could find it on the app store, it couldn't. Worse still, unlike domain names, Antomic Antelope had no way of contacting the person who had registered the name.
The issue arises because iTunes Connect allows users to partially submit an application at any time without requiring that an application binary be submitted. Consequently, a developer need only register for the iPhone Developer Program, select a unique application title, and add entries for a few required data fields.

This practice is certainly not new, but is just now starting to receive significant attention. Recombu points to one developer who almost a year ago realized what was happening and decided to grab "dozens and dozens of good sounding applications names." Unlike domain squatting in which users have financial incentive to hoard domain names in hopes of selling the rights to them, the anonymous nature of this App Store name squatting suggests that users may simply be hoarding "good" application names "just in case" they end up developing an appropriate iPhone application. Many of these applications may never come to be, forcing other developers with actual apps into second or third choice names.

The reason for Apple allowing names to be registered before binaries are submitted is clear, as the application's name will almost certainly be featured in numerous locations throughout the application, requiring the developer to have the name already claimed before submitting the final application. But the question remains whether Apple can or should adjust its policies in some way to reduce instances of name squatting.

Article Link: App Store 'Name Squatters' Drawing Attention
 

smileyborg

macrumors 6502
May 12, 2009
267
0
Geez, another nasty incarnation of this "IP" garbage.

People squatting trademarks, overly broad and vague patents, domain names, now App names! And they have no product to back it up...
 

echeck

macrumors 68000
Apr 20, 2004
1,831
21
Boise, Idaho
I would think this could be a potentially simply fix on Apple's part. Perhaps require proof of an application in development? I don't know what that proof would be, but I'm sure Apple could think of something.

And if there is nothing provided to Apple then the name will expire after 30 days or something.
 

alent1234

macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
5,688
170
what's the big deal about choosing another app name or just grabbing the name when you first start the project?
 

iOrlando

macrumors 68000
Jul 20, 2008
1,811
1
I would think this could be a potentially simply fix on Apple's part. Perhaps require proof of an application in development? I don't know what that proof would be, but I'm sure Apple could think of something.

And if there is nothing provided to Apple then the name will expire after 30 days or something.

or just charge a $10 or $20 to register names...

I can see a small 5 person dev company just branstorming names and then spending the next day getting dozens of them..

Twitcher, ****ter, Thumper, Twitchme, Twitchyou, SamTwitch, WeTwitch, Twitterzam, ****zone
 

GenesisST

macrumors 68000
Jan 23, 2006
1,779
949
Where I live
Although the squatting part should be fixed or at least have a expiration date to post the application, the Twitch developer really should have looked it up before registering...

Bad management on their part, IMHO.
 

zombitronic

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2007
1,120
15
And if there is nothing provided to Apple then the name will expire after 30 days or something.

This seems fair. Maybe require a submission of substantial work on the app to reserve it for an additional 30 days.
 

zombitronic

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2007
1,120
15
Although the squatting part should be fixed or at least have a expiration date to post the application, the Twitch developer really should have looked it up before registering...

Bad management on their part, IMHO.

Look it up, where? That's the point of this topic. The app didn't exist in the App Store.
 

motulist

macrumors 601
Dec 2, 2003
4,223
599
And if there is nothing provided to Apple then the name will expire after 30 days or something.

Exactly. I think 30 days is a bit short, but certainly if you register an app name and then don't provide a full and approved version of your actual app within 3 months, then you should lose command of that app name. Problem solved.
 

Oshawapilot

macrumors newbie
Jan 25, 2007
25
0
Courtice Ontario Canada
A $50 or $100 deposit on the name, refundable immediately upon submission of a binary, would stop this immediately.

People aren't going to invest hundreds (or potentially thousands) of dollars squatting on titles they "might" use some day.
 

Willis

macrumors 68020
Apr 23, 2006
2,293
54
Beds, UK
I think Apple should either set a limit on how long a dev can register a name, and to keep the name active, place sample code or an early build so that it shows development of the name. If no code/early build is submitted, then after 6 months the name is relinquished.

Alternatively, they could have a point of access for devs who have an app ready to contact a rep at Apple to gain the other name holders contact details.

either of these methods I feel will stop this issue
 

rockdog

macrumors member
Jul 11, 2005
68
0
N Idaho
This is easily fixed by the registration expiring after, say, 90 days if the code is not submitted with a completed registration and a window afterwards where no re-registration possible within say 30-60 days. At least I think that seems logical.
 

mobi

macrumors 6502
Jul 26, 2004
407
15
Penn's Woods
A $50 or $100 deposit on the name, refundable immediately upon submission of a binary, would stop this immediately.

People aren't going to invest hundreds (or potentially thousands) of dollars squatting on titles they "might" use some day.

Something along those lines should do the trick.
 

pdjudd

macrumors 601
Jun 19, 2007
4,037
65
Plymouth, MN
what's the big deal about choosing another app name or just grabbing the name when you first start the project?

It's not that easy, especially in a system like this where you don't know who squatted it or what not. Names are important when they are brands, especially when you works for quite a while to create them and build them up from nothing only to be taken by a person who does not show intent on using it.
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,419
5,767
Wouldn't this all just encourage a lot of useless flashlight apps from the name squatters?
 

trainguy77

macrumors 68040
Nov 13, 2003
3,567
1
A $50 or $100 deposit on the name, refundable immediately upon submission of a binary, would stop this immediately.

People aren't going to invest hundreds (or potentially thousands) of dollars squatting on titles they "might" use some day.

I like this idea.

You could also say that after registration of a name you have six months to have the app for sale. If not you lose the title and have to wait another month to re-register that title.
 

zombitronic

macrumors 65816
Feb 9, 2007
1,120
15
People aren't going to invest hundreds (or potentially thousands) of dollars squatting on titles they "might" use some day.

Larger companies would still be able to afford to do this. This seems like a case of punishing the many to discipline the few.
 

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,607
714
Cork, Ireland.
Yup, an expiration date and/or deposit would go a long way to fixing this.

I'm not surprised, there must be thousands of people signed up to be iPhone developers (given how easy that is) and registered names; but then realised they don't yet have the technical skills to get those apps out any time soon.

It mightn't necessarily be anyone deliberately 'squatting', just someone lots of people who jumped at iPhone development; but haven't landed yet. :)
 

pmjoe

macrumors 6502
Mar 27, 2009
464
33
Real apps can take years to develop. Some kind of refundable deposit seems like a good idea. Possibly include the notion that you forfeit your deposit if you're caught selling/auctioning application names (which is bound to happen).
 

notsofatjames

macrumors 6502a
Jan 11, 2007
856
0
Wales, UK
Although the squatting part should be fixed or at least have a expiration date to post the application, the Twitch developer really should have looked it up before registering...

Bad management on their part, IMHO.

It does strike me as quite odd that this wasn't picked up earlier in the development. If "developers" can squat names with no intent of using them, then surely this developer would have thought to have squatted on Twitch or whatever it was called right from when development started

A $50 or $100 deposit on the name, refundable immediately upon submission of a binary, would stop this immediately.

People aren't going to invest hundreds (or potentially thousands) of dollars squatting on titles they "might" use some day.

A good idea in theory, but it might prevent indie developers from developing unique apps if they can't afford the $100 to develop and the $100 per name of application. You may want to take control of the name, but also similar sounding names to prevent competitors from using the same name (eg. you realease "Counter" and someone else clones your app, calls it "Counted" and sells it for 10c less.)

This is easily fixed by the registration expiring after, say, 90 days if the code is not submitted with a completed registration and a window afterwards where no re-registration possible within say 30-60 days. At least I think that seems logical.

I think this is the best solution, I'd say 90 days before some code needs to be submitted, and that code should use the application's name.

I also think Apple should allow developers to contact the "squatter" and ask them to release it or prove they are developing for that application name, in the same way that you can with domain names.
 

dejo

Moderator emeritus
Sep 2, 2004
15,982
452
The Centennial State
I'm curious as to when Apple changed this policy. Since it certainly has not been since the introduction of the App Store. Take for example, there are two apps named "Flashlight !" and three named "Metronome".
 
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