• About ▾

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

That’s a problem.

I went to buy Angry Birds on Topherchris’ recommendation and got this:

The first two pages of search results for “angry birds”.

The first two are real. Rocket Bird 3D and MY BEST FRIEND are other things (although probably keyword spammers). The other six of the top ten results for this game’s name are pure spam. Judging from the number of customer ratings, a lot of people are downloading them — and, reading the reviews, it looks like they’re mostly scams and ripoffs.

Most are from a handful of squatters. InTekOne, LLC has 58 apps, nearly all of which are “cheats” or “guides” for top App Store games, violating nearly all of their name and icon trademarks in the process and ripping off thousands of buyers.

ESCAPP is similar with 24 apps, 13 of which are scam “cheats” apps that violate other games’ trademarks (and I bet most of the others violate various photo and text copyrights):

Ben Cousins has 86 scammy apps, including 12 “cheats” apps and many more “guide” and “trivia” apps, plus a few more audacious squats such as “iFart - Epic Rip Edition” (the famous iFart app is made by someone else):

And I found all of these from just the top 10 search results for one popular game. (And I’m not even mentioning popular-app keyword spam today, which is still massively widespread even though some apps get rejected for including names of other apps in their keywords.)

Apple’s reviewers are in a difficult position: any large-scale developer bans in the App Store are likely to attract negative press, so they’re probably reluctant to do any.

But when so many obviously spammy and trademark-infringing apps are getting through, it makes every trivial rejection by real developers even more frustrating.

Update: How to prevent this for your apps

When an app is infringing on your copyright or trademark, the proper procedure is to send a clear notice to citing your intellectual property and which apps are infringing it (provide their iTunes URLs to eliminate ambiguity). As part of this notice for trademark infringements, you can request that apps not be allowed to use your trademark to market themselves in search results (keyword spam).

I wasn’t able to find this information when I first looked for it when I had an Instapaper squatter, so I’m publishing it here with permission in case it helps other developers.

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