谷歌应用商店Android Market目前的产品数量已经超过了10万件，迅速成为苹果App Store的头号竞争对手。但与苹果应用商店不一样，Android Market并不推行严格的应用审核制度，谷歌的这种完全开放策略，是Android Market在短时间内取得飞速发展的重要原因，但这也同时带来了一个问题——因为谷歌事先没有加设一道审核门槛，这些应用产品在提供下载服务时总是更容易卷入法律纠纷。LinkedIn、任天堂、摩托罗拉和星巴克等著名企业也因此频频向Android Market投诉，要求撤下相关侵权产品。
ChillingEffects是一家由顶级法律院校和Electronic Frontier Foundation共同创建和运作的组织，主要宗旨是搜集各种类型的产品撤架声明及相关数据，以供有关学科进行调查和研究。
据ChillingEffects主管Wendy Selzer在博客中的分析数据显示，该应用商店面临的投诉案例主要是版权和商标侵权两种类型。其中最大的投诉者是Facebook，在Android Market最近收到的206条投诉信息中，来自Facebook的投诉占了31条；第二名是任天堂，该公司最近提交了20条投诉信息；有趣的是，谷歌自己居然成了季军，共提交了8条投诉信息，它自称公司商标已被该应用商店的某些产品讹用（没错，这可以理解为谷歌旗下的一个部门向另一个部门投诉商标被滥用的现象——谷歌也如实向ChillingEffects组织汇报了这种情况）。美国录音工业协会（Recording Industry Association of America，简称RIAA）也在这些投诉者的行列，他们要求撤下与手机铃音相关的几款应用，但仅提交了3条投诉要求。
·星巴克：该公司发送了6条投诉信息，声称“coffee card manager”类型的手机应用在未经许可的情况下，使用了星巴克的logo和设计。目前谷歌已撤下了部分违规应用，但也有些产品经过改头换面之后又重出江湖，比如“Starbucks Card Widget”就已经更名为“My Coffee Card”。
·摩托罗拉：该公司要求谷歌撤下4款侵权应用，其中三者属于过去已处理事件，第四款名为“Motorola Droid Updater”的免费应用确实使用了摩托罗拉的名字，但它是一款提供摩托罗拉企业消息的新闻应用，主要向用户提供摩托罗拉Droid手机的“最新传言、新闻和更新消息”。使用公司名称作为新闻报道的标题，似乎并不能算是商标侵权，所以谷歌没有移除该应用产品。
·任天堂：该游戏公司希望谷歌撤除8款未经授权就使用了“超级马里奥”人物形象的手机应用，但并没有如愿。任天堂在此碰壁的原因有可能是，他们的产品移除诉求并不明确，没有列出具体的URL。通过搜索可以发现，任天堂要求移除的产品可能包括由Bayland Blue推出的《Mario Sounds》，以及Flojobo开发的《Mario Soundboard》，这两者目前仍在Android Market产品架上。另一款未经授权的“Pokemon Game Ultimate Edition”手机应用也同样如此。
·雅达利：该公司要求撤下两款“克隆”了80年代经典街机游戏《导弹指挥部》（Missile Command）的手机应用，它们分别是《Missile Shield》和《Ballistic Defense》。但谷歌目前还没有满足雅达利律师的要求。不过，假如这两款应用的开发者抵制谷歌撤下产品的行为，那也一点不令人意外，因为这两者的游戏画面与《导弹指挥部》根本不一样，游戏创意也存在较大出入。但目前我们暂时不清楚这其中究竟是否涉及侵权行为。总之，这两款应用以及另一款克隆了雅达利《Asteroids》的手机游戏仍然可提供下载服务。
·Hachette Group：该发行商提交了一条投诉信息，成功移除了不少涉嫌盗版的电子书应用，这些电子书盗版了小说家Nicholas Sparks、金融行业专家Robert Kiyosaki等人的作品，此外美国女作家Stephenie Meyer所著的《暮光之城》也在被侵权书籍之列。现在谷歌已经移除了这些非法应用产品，但用户仍可浏览这些产品的缓冲版本。
·LinkedIn和美国银行：有一些公司试图移除那些提高手机浏览性能的应用产品，但谷歌并不赞成这种做法。例如，LinkedIn希望撤下LinkedIn Mobile手机应用，但实际上后者的产品说明中已指出它与LinkedIn并无本质关联。美国银行也要求谷歌移除一款支持快速链接到美国银行网站的手机应用，但现在这两款应用仍出现在Android Market平台。
·Cartoon Network：该网站要求谷歌撤下《Unicorn Dash》这款手机应用，因为它侵犯了该网站的一款在线游戏《Robot Unicorn Attack》的版权，谷歌同意了这种要求。（本文为游戏邦/gamerboom.com编译，转载请注明来源：游戏邦）
The Android Apps That Are Sparking Legal Battles
Google’s Android Marketplace, now home to more than 100,000 mobile apps, has fast become the top competitor to Apple’s App Store. But unlike Apple’s store, Android apps aren’t subject to extensive review before they’re made available in the store. Google’s more open system for uploading apps has led to a market for apps that’s robust and fast-growing—but it also means that legal battles over the apps play out after they are available for download rather than while the applications are still pending. Below, some of the apps that big companies like LinkedIn, Nintendo, Motorola (NYSE: MMI) and Starbucks (NSDQ: SBUX) are trying to get kicked out of the Marketplace, and why.
ChillingEffects.org has published a new set of data—206 “takedown” notices sent by various companies and a few individuals to Google (NSDQ: GOOG), insisting that apps in the Android Marketplace violated either copyright or trademark law. Some of the companies got their wish, while others have come up empty-handed. Taking a closer look at this data—the first of its kind—offers a sense of what some of the conflict points are in the world of apps.
First, where this data came from: ChillingEffects.org, which is run by several prominent law schools and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, has been collecting various types of takedown notices and publishing them for a decade now. There’s a lot of debate in the blogosphere about whether copyright and trademark takedown notices are sent too often or used abusively, and ChillingEffects gathers data to help academics studying that question.
Most big internet companies receive takedown notices on a regular basis and have to set up a system for responding to them. But a few companies and organizations, including Google, have a standing policy of sharing all such notices with ChillingEffects.org so they can be studied by others. (Twitter, whose general counsel is a former Googler, is another such company.) While Google has been sending takedown requests in gets regarding services like Google Search and Blogger to ChillingEffects for some time, it just started sending takedowns for the Android Marketplace, and now ChillingEffects has published the data set—a kind of “registry of anger” towards the world’s first open-door app store.
One thing that comes through clearly here is that Google is seriously evaluating these notices. Some of the apps have been taken down, but many others haven’t. The company isn’t automatically assuming that the copyright or trademark owner is in the right. That’s not surprising, considering Google has sometimes had to defend itself against intellectual property claims in court.
Some general observations: As ChillingEffects director Wendy Selzer notes in her recent blog post analyzing the data, the complaints were divided about evenly between copyright and trademark.
Technically, the biggest complainant was Facebook, which submitted 31 of the 206 complaints, and next was Nintendo, with 20 complaints. Google itself was actually third, with eight complaints alleging its own trademarks were being misused by some apps in the Android Marketplace. (So, yes, that would be one division of Google complaining about how Google’s trademark is used in a second division of Google—and then Google reporting on Google’s takedown request to ChillingEffects.org.) If we count the number of apps targeted, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is up there too, since they asked for takedowns on dozens of apps related to ringtones but stuffed it all into just three requests.
So what was complained about? And what was actually taken out of the Android Marketplace? Here’s an unscientific sampling:
—Starbucks: The company sent six complaints about “coffee card manager” apps that help Starbucks card owners check their balance or reload their cards, noting that the programs use Starbucks logos and designs without permission. Some of the apps were taken down, while others changed their names to generic names and designs. The app formerly known as a “Starbucks Card Widget,” for example, has now renamed itself to My Coffee Card.
—Motorola: Motorola asked that four apps be taken down. Three of them are history, but a fourth—Motorola Droid Updater, a free app by Drippler, is actually using Motorola’s name because it’s a company-specific news app, offering to advise users on the “latest rumors, news and updates” on Motorola Droid phones. Using a company name as part of news reporting isn’t a trademark violation, obviously, and Google apparently declined to remove this one.
—BNP Paribas, TD Ameritrade and JP Morgan Chase: Several banks asked for apps to be taken down, with mixed results. BNP Paribas and TD Ameritrade both appear to have removed mobile banking apps using their names. But JP Morgan Chase’s attempt to remove Jeff Peiffer’s $5 Android Banking app as a trademark violation failed—Peiffer had simply listed the company’s name as one of several online banking services that his program supports.
—RIAA: The Recording Industry Association of America asked for dozens of apps to be taken down. The apps all appear to be related to ringtones, but the recording industry trade group has had mixed success in winning takedowns. Part of the problem is that RIAA seems to have lumped together apps that are providing illegal material with apps like MP3 search engines that aren’t necessarily illegal.
—Nintendo: The gaming company tried, but failed, to take down eight apps that are using the likeness of Mario Bros. characters, even though on the face of it, unlicensed use of Mario looks like a pretty clear copyright violation. The problem may be that Nintendo’s takedown notices were unclear and failed to list specific URLs. A search for apps that Nintendo wanted taken down—like Mario Sounds by Bayland Blue and Mario Soundboard by Flojobo—shows they’re still available. An unauthorized Pokemon Game Ultimate Edition is still up, as well.
Update: The apps linked above were taken down shortly after this story published.
—Atari: Atari wanted to take down two “clones” of the classic 80s arcade game Missile Command, called Missile Shield and Ballistic Defense. But Google hasn’t delivered on the demands of Atari lawyers, at least not yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if the app makers contested these takedowns, because the images are different and as much as Atari might like to “own” the idea of crazy rockets tumbling down a screen towards six vulnerable human cities… I’m not sure that should be copyrightable. (Although I’m sure many lawyers would disagree.) In any case, the games are still up, as is a clone of Atari’s Asteroids game.
—Hachette Group: The publisher filed one complaint that successfully led to the takedown of more than a dozen “apps” that appear to have simply been programs that displayed pirated e-books, including books by Nicholas Sparks, financial guru Robert Kiyosaki, and the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. These apps are all down (but cached versions are still viewable.)
—LinkedIn and U.S. Bank: A few companies tried to take down apps that simply made mobile browsing easier but Google didn’t fall for that. LinkedIn, for example, tried to have this LinkedIn Mobile app removed, even though the description says it isn’t affiliated with LinkedIn. U.S. Bank asked Google to take down developer Kevin Williams’ app, which he described as simply a portal to the “quite hard to find” mobile version of the U.S. Bank website. Both apps are still up.
—Cartoon Network: The network demanded a takedown of Unicorn Dash on copyright grounds, an app it found too similar to the network’s own online game, Robot Unicorn Attack. The app was taken down. （source:paidcontent）