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Cloned Programs?

I am developing a Windows application on my own free time and I am interested in selling it when I finish.  My question is, my application looks similar (in terms of look and feel) to another well-known application of this type.  I'm worried about copyrights and what-not.  My application has some features that the popular app doesn't and I am going to be selling it for cheaper. 

I believe I read a thread here about cloned apps.  My app isn't directly a clone, it just has most of the features and a similar UI, so I guess I'm just asking your opinion about my situation.

mcguile257
Monday, July 07, 2003

If you're simply assembling widgets in a similar manner, there's no problem. If you were copy/pasting images or using trademarked copy, that would be a problem. If I were you, I'd be ecstatic if I could get the leader to complain about my product.

pb
Monday, July 07, 2003

Funny thing is, most word processors have similar features and similar UI. :)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, July 07, 2003

Didn't Adobe sue Macromedia over the use of floatin pallettes?

www.marktaw.com
Monday, July 07, 2003

This almost comes under the heading "obstacles in success".

You know what I am talking about,

you suggest some great idea and somone says

"yes but then when it becomes really popular you will be using an awful lot of bandwidth" 

or

"yeah but if you do sell that many, think how much tax you will be paying".

People who can see failure even in success itself.

1 - Wouldn't it be very cool if your product, that you devloped in your spare time, was successful enough for the current market players to notice.

2 - If they decide to muscle you with legal threats isn't it likely you could get out of trouble by withdrawing the product or giving it to them ?  I mean worst case scenario.

3 - If you are doing really well at this point, if your product has exploded onto the market, maybe you would want to fight them.  Maybe they will pay you off ?

4 - Can't you change the look and feel ?

This sort of worry is exactly the sort of thing that poor people think about and the rich do not.

The simple fact is, if you are successful in a market where there are already dominant players they are going to want to come after you.

Maybe if your program is a straight clone they will sue the pants off you, maybe if your program is completely different they will still try and sue the pants off you. 

Concentrate of some new killer features, or making your product of much higher quality. 

Fighting imaginary battles before they happen is a great way to not actually do anything.

braid_ged
Monday, July 07, 2003

I agree with Braid 100%.  There are 5 kinds of protection when it comes to software:

1) Patents.  You'll probably never have any way of knowing if you violate one of these until you get a "cease and desist" letter.  General high level research will suffice.

2) Trademarks.  Not hard to violate intentionally.  Many trademarks with a (tm) or (r) are actually unenfoceable, though.  For example, someone has probably trademarked "committed to your success" or "excellence in software".  Trademarks usually have to be within an industry to be enforceable.  For example, McGuile's Software won't infringe on McGuile's Beef Jerky out of Des Moines.  If you want a trademark yourself, do some basic research.  At one time, you had to sell across state lines to have an enforceable trademark.

3) Copyright.  You can rip people off here.  Seriously.  Short of combing through trash cans for source code or using unaltered, pilfered images, you're okay.  Reverse engineering is even permissible (though I'm not sure of this).  It's very, very difficult to make a civil copyright infringement charge stick.

4) Anti-trust.  May you be so lucky.

5) Petty legal harassment.  Big company doesn't like you and hires away your employees, sues you for some petty copyright issue (which they couldn't win on).  See Intel on numerous occasions.

But Braid's advice is best:  Lose no sleep over these issues.  Muted or absent action is your greatest risk.

Bill Carlson
Monday, July 07, 2003

"Fighting imaginary battles before they happen is a great way to not actually do anything. "

Good programmers always think of "imaginary" problems and solve them before coding.  With Braid's suggestion, it really is a paradox.  Perhaps, you have pointed my problem of thinking everything logically; if A is valid, A must be true in every model (except Braid's model ??)

(I think I have a long road ahead to adjust my logic)

RM
Monday, July 07, 2003

In many cases, I'd worry about problems. Like another poster said, programmers often look ahead to avoid problems.

However, I'd not worry about legal problems.

Firstly, if they want to sue you, they can sue you. Period. They'll come up with some bullshit reasoning, and sue you. You can't avoid it if they want to get you.

Secondly, the worst you are likely have to do is pull the product. Those types of suits usually settle. I doubt they could make damages stick in any likely case.

I say go for it: consider it a mark of respect if they deem you worth fighting.

Not that I'm a lawyer, but I'm good at bullshit ;)

Mike Swieton
Monday, July 07, 2003

Lots of good advice here. The best thing to do is "do it," and worry about any problems only when they arise.

If you're constantly worried about the ways you can fail, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

www.marktaw.com
Monday, July 07, 2003

Rm,

"No, no, you're not thinking, you're just being logical."

- BOHR, NEILS HENRIK DAVID

Braid_Mr_Pretentious_ged

braid_ged
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

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