I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.


See that middle icon, there? The one that Joshua Keay designed for FileMagnet and generously offered to me for Instapaper 1.4?

That’s prohibited in the App Store because it depicts an iPhone, and Apple rejected Instapaper Pro 1.4 because of it.

We’ve reviewed Instapaper Pro and determined that we cannot post this version of your iPhone application to the App Store because of an Apple trademark image.

Citing this:

You may not use the Apple Logo or any other Apple-owned graphic symbol, logo, or icon on or in connection with web sites, products, packaging, manuals, promotional/advertising materials, or for any other purpose except pursuant to an express written trademark license from Apple, such as a reseller agreement.

It’s the same occasionally enforced rule that blocked an update to the immensely popular Pocket God app a few weeks ago (here, here).

I don’t know enough about trademark law to know whether Apple needs to defend against this sort of use, but it seems like a stretch to say that an abstractly drawn icon depicting a device (which resembles many other phones as much as it resembles the iPhone) is trademark infringement.

The App Store is great in a lot of ways, and it’s still an amazing deal for independent developers. It’s just frustrating when the problems crop up, because compared to nearly everything else about the whole setup, the problems seem so arbitrary, avoidable, and developer-hostile. For instance, this problem wouldn’t be nearly as frustrating if approval, even for minor updates to established apps, took less than 7-14 days.

Regardless, I’m not interested in playing the “resubmit the same thing and hope to get it past someone else” game. I’m going to make a different icon from scratch that doesn’t contain any depictions of any Apple products (can I use arrows, or does that violate the arrow key on Apple’s keyboards?), resubmit, wait another 9 days, hope I get accepted this time, lose a few weeks of the increased sales that the new version will generate, and chalk it up to another annoying cost of doing business on the App Store that I can’t do a thing about.