Mag Flashlights is claiming my app violates their intellectual property...

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by dagger55, Nov 8, 2010.

  1. dagger55 macrumors regular


    Jun 23, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Today I received an email from Apple notifying me that my app LED iLight violated Mag's copyright. I created a flashlight in photoshop, and use that as the background. I'm guessing Mag thinks they have a copyright on the gray flashlights that have a screw on top? What do yall think?

    Here is the email I received from Apple:

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    **Please include *REMOVED* in the subject line of any future correspondence on this matter.**

    On 11/4/2010, we received a notice from Mag Instruments Inc. that Mag Instruments Inc. believes your application named "LED iLight" infringes Mag Instruments Inc.'s intellectual property rights. In particular, Mag Instruments Inc. believes you are infringing their copyright.

    You can reach Mag Instruments Inc. through *REMOVED*. Please exchange correspondence directly with Mag Instruments Inc..

    We look forward to receiving written assurance that your application does not infringe Mag Instruments Inc.'s rights, or that you are taking steps to promptly resolve the matter. Written assurance may include confirmation that your application does not infringe Mag Instruments Inc.'s rights, an express authorization from Mag Instruments Inc., or other evidence acceptable to Apple.

    Under our terms of agreement, Apple may remove your application from the App Store at any time. You may remove your application using the steps provided below, for example, while you make any necessary changes to your application.

    Visit iTunes Connect at

    1) Access your app in the Manage Your Applications module.
    2) Click on the "Rights and Pricing" button from the App Summary Page.
    3) Click on the "Deselect All" button to uncheck all App Store territories.
    4) Click on the "Save Changes" button.

    We look forward to receiving confirmation from you within 5 days.

    Thank you for your immediate attention.

    Attached Files:

    • 1.PNG
      File size:
      213.9 KB
  2. 184550 Guest

    May 8, 2008
    Couldn't you just go back into Photoshop and add/ remove a certain detail or two to further differentiate your flashlight?
  3. dagger55 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 23, 2007
    Austin, TX
    I have emailed them asking what exactly I am infringing on. I have a hard time believing my quick photoshop job is infringing...
  4. triptyx, Nov 8, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010

    triptyx macrumors member


    Jul 15, 2010
    MAG may think that the depiction of a flashlight on your app is close enough to their trademarked lights that they need to defend their trademark. The nature of trademark law in the U.S. is that if you don't vigorously defend the trademark, it can subsequently become indefensible in future, possibly unrelated litigation.

    If you feel like lawyering up and trying to fight it, or playing chicken with their legal department, you're welcome to attempt to assert that the depiction of the flash light on your app is different enough from a Mag Light that they have no case. Were it me, I might find it easier to change the artwork enough to make them happy. Perhaps contact their department and ask what specifically they're requesting that you change and attempt to work it out like gentlemen.

    I found the following on the bottom of a MagLite ad:
    Maglite® Trademark Disclaimer: The distinctive shapes, styles and overall appearances of all Mag-Lite® flashlights, and the circumferential inscriptions extending around the heads of all Mag® flashlights are trademarks of Mag Instrument, Inc. The circumferential inscription on the head of every Maglite® flashlight signifies that it is an original Mag-lite® flashlight and part of the Mag® family of flashlights. U.S. Trademark Registrations for the shape, style and overall appearance trademarks of Maglight® flashlights and for circumferential inscription trademarks of Mag-lite® flashlights include Nos. 1,808,998; 2,074,795; 2,687,693; 2,745,460; 2,765,978 and 2,765,979
  5. coolbreeze macrumors 68000


    Jan 20, 2003
    Tell them to eff themselves. It's no different than Michelin saying the pic of a tire on your app infringes on their intellectual property.

    A flashlight isn't a precision designed piece of equipment. It's a pretty generic design that MAG can't claim ownership to. Just like Michelin can't trademark a tire image.

    They are just mad that they didn't think of the app first.
  6. lucifiel macrumors 6502a


    Nov 7, 2009
    In your basement
    Yes yes, piss off the people who can hire lawyers that will bleed you dry. Real smart.
  7. Frosticus macrumors 6502a


    Oct 4, 2010
    Bristol, UK
    ^what he said. Should be fairly simple to resolve without things getting nasty.
  8. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    Told you you should have done a fart or tip calculator app.
  9. triptyx macrumors member


    Jul 15, 2010
    Did you know that Gulfstream, (they make private jets) has trademarked the shape and size of the windows on their aircraft? They are able to make sure that other manufacturers, and even people who make airplanes for games like Flight Simulator, are unable to depict or build an aircraft with similar windows. Certain aesthetic and functional features of a product can indeed be trademarked and protected by law. Mag has done something similar with their flashlights, though I don't have the kind of access I'd need to find out exactly what aspects of their lights are trademarked.

    While I personally don't believe he is infringing their trademark, it's very easy for Mag to throw lawyers at him until he is broke and destitute. Working with them will likely result in him being able to make a couple of quick and minor changes and everyone will walk away happy.
  10. Apple OC macrumors 68040

    Apple OC

    Oct 14, 2010
    Oh yes ... they must be Mad because they did not make an App for the iPhone.

    They sell Flashlights period ... they most likely do not care about iPhones and their little Apps.

    Plus they probably use Blackberrys that would better suit their business needs. :cool:
  11. dagger55 thread starter macrumors regular


    Jun 23, 2007
    Austin, TX
    Just heard back from their lawyer. I guess I'll need to rephrase my question to them to be "What exactly do you want me to change?"

  12. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    ^ Stop asking them and just change the look of it. Or change it to the shape of a dick and write MAG on it, release it on Cydia where people can download it within the jailbreak community. :D

    But really, they're not going to give you a straight answer, rest assured. They answered exactly what they wanted to answer and giving you any direction on how to change your app is not going to be something they'll do. They likely think you'd pop off and say "with the help of MAG USA, redesigned!"
  13. msavwah macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    I'm gonna say its the shape and especially the bulb housing part. It looks like a mag....
    Just the silhouette does it.
  14. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    Call your local consumer reporter and complain that a big bad corporation is picking on you. With any luck, the story will get picked up national and you'll sell a ton of your Mag lite app.
  15. freelancing macrumors regular


    Sep 30, 2007
    I have to agree. If I saw just the illustration and didn't know anything about this, my knee-jerk reaction would be that this is a Mag Light. The slope from the flat front of the head down to the neck down to the notches along the top make it look just like one. The button on the neck shows the functionality is a bit different, but it's still their design.

    If someone else created a flashlight app (there are several) using the design you created in Photoshop, you'd be rightfully pissed, too. Even if it was inadvertent - they came up w/ the design first.
  16. triptyx macrumors member


    Jul 15, 2010
    My recommendation, holding a 3-D MAG in my hand and looking at your illustration:

    Remove the vertical hash grip knurls near the head - maybe replace with checkerboard knurls.
    Remove the seam at the tip of the head.
    Change the oval switch depression to a squarish/rectangular shape.
    Change the switch itself to a textured rectangular slide switch.

    The knurls and switch/switch depression shapes are likely most of what's ticking them off. As they've given you a timeline, I'd do so posthaste and inform them that you're submitting the change to Apple immediately.
  17. tritonj macrumors 6502a

    Jun 12, 2008
    the thing looks like a mag lite, just change the switch to a slide and it will be different
  18. ogdogg macrumors 6502

    Jun 26, 2008
    Mag has specific copywrites on the flashlight design. You are infringing.

    That leaves you 2 choices. Redesign your flashlight to look different than a Mag Light, or partner with them on the app.

    Or of course you could do nothing, get sued, and lose everything. Good luck. Keep us posted with what route you take.
  19. paj macrumors regular


    Jun 14, 2003
    They told you in paragraphs 'B' and 'C' exactly what you need to change... "shape, style and overall appearance".

    There's no question that your artwork depicts a Mag Light, even if it wasn't intentional.
  20. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
  21. EvilC5 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 22, 2010
    Hanover MD
    I agree also, the knurled edge looks very much like maglite.

    GM owns the shape of the corvette, and people who try to sell photos of a corvette run into the same situations.
  22. SFC Archer macrumors 68000

    SFC Archer

    Nov 9, 2007
    Troy, MT
    Why dont you just use your strobe flashlight image. It does not look like a mag where as the other one surly does. Your last image in iTunes, in my opinion would be totally acceptable and not look like you dragged the image off of a google search and did some photoshop work.

    Good Luck with your dilemma;)
  23. Cartaphilus macrumors 6502a

    Dec 24, 2007
    Well, if you're taking a poll, and when it comes to trade dress and the likelihood of confusing the public that isn't a bad idea, put me down as voting against your depiction. As others have pointed out, there are several design features that instantly evoke the characteristic Mag designs.

    Let me suggest that you search the web for stock drawings of flashlights, and try to make your illustration close to those. A number of royalty-free images can be found here

    I'm no marketeer, but I doubt very much that your iPhone app will be less successful with an image of a generic flashlight than with an image that resembles a Mag-Lite ©.

    That way you can get on with your life, and we can move the discussion of the morality of trade dress protection to a place where your interest in the outcome is merely academic.

Share This Page