[quote=111218:@Sam Rowlands]Long story - shortened version: I want to protect some fourth coming applications from being ‘cloned’ and having our revenue depleted by bottom feeding scummy programmers (you know who you are).
Investigated patents and basically found there is no way I can afford to patent my software (nor do I want to wait 3~5 years for the patent to be approved before I sell the application), and then only if the products are successful will I be able to defend the patents.
Which leads me to wonder, is there anything else I should be looking into as a way of protecting my IP. Ideally I want something that I can take to Apple and say, hey these #$%& have ripped us off and I need you to remove their shit from the App Store?[/quote]
Ages ago there was a big precedent with VP-Planner, a clone of the best seller spreadsheet Lotus 123.
Reality is that even if Lotus won against Paperback software, they did not go after Borland afterward, and MS never seem to have tried anything either.
As you pointed out above, it takes a long time to patent, and we all know the cost of litigation. In the case of Lotus 123 vs VP-Planner this did not prevent later Borland from creating “skins” for their spreadsheet which allowed it to have the same interface as 123 or Multiplan (MS).
The issue here is pretty much the same as counterfeited Louis Vuiton bags, Rolex watches and Dior glasses. Notwithstanding real protection of their brand and custom impounds, if it can be emulated, it is. And customers who don’t know any better will buy, creating the market as surely as cocaine drives Columbian drug cartels business.
My original business is fonts. In the US, for some bizarre reason lawmakers decided that fonts cannot be copyrighted. So anything goes. Since the 1990s there are software houses that customarily scan font output, vectorize it, and create new identical fonts. As the only thing I can claim is copyright of the actual binary, I have no way to prevent cloning of my intellectual property. Add to that the gazillion “free fonts” sites around and the picture becomes pretty grimm.
Just as your own software, designing a font from scratch requires quite a bit of work. I have the example of the Candy Cane font in mind. When I created it, it was unique. Christmas sales where booming. It took less than three month for cloners to reproduce it, and two years later if I sold 10 copies I was lucky. Today everybody knows that design and I sell one every blue moon. In many aspects, cloners to me are scum just like cyber squatters.
The only way to counter the phenomenon, I think, is to take it into account in the product life the product. In particular, I found out that starting priced too low never gave a chance to make enough profit to really take into account development expenses. Here comes the analogy with the game industry. The life span of a game is at most three months until piracy kills sales. So prices are set to try making as much profit as possible before the product dies. And new versions are planned from the start go.
That said, I do not think possible to reverse the heavy tendency for shorter and shorter software lifetime, would that be due to cloning, piracy, or simple customer attention span.
As for Apple taking action against cloners, well, the Flappy Birds clones do not seem to go away