Adblock Plus ‘blocked’ competition from App Store
Fri 4 Mar 2016
Simon Moghimi, creator of Magic Adblock, says that his software was removed from the App Store as the result of a facetious trademark dispute with Eyeo’s Adblock Plus.
With over 300 million downloads, Adblock Plus is the industry leader for applications that block advertisements, tracking and malware on web traffic. However, it faced competition from Magic Adblock, which claimed to be the fastest and most powerful adblocker for iOS and to have achieved over 100,000 downloads in the three months since it became available. Magic Adblock also had a number of positive reviews from users, who said that the app blocked more effectively and without the loss of speed associated with other adblockers. Shortly thereafter, Apple notified Moghimi via email that a complaint had been lodged against him by Eyeo, the parent company for Adblock Plus. In the complaint, Adblock Plus claimed the Magic Adblock application was a ‘copycat’, guilty of infringing on Adblock Plus’ intellectual property rights. This week, Moghimi received notice from Apple that Magic Adblock would be removed from the App Store.
The original complaint, filed by Adblock Plus marketing manager Simona Foldesova, said that with Adblock Plus’ growing popularity, a number of copycat applications were using their name and/or logo “to trick users (of the App Store) into using an extension confusingly similar to ours.” Users would mistakenly think they were downloading Adblock Plus, the argument went, which would be jeopardize user security and Adblock Plus’ reputation.
Moghimi said that Magic Adblock never responded to this claim because it was “ridiculous”. While Adblock Plus is a registered trademark in the US and the European Union, Magic Adblock never used the name or logo of Adblock Plus. The word ‘adblock’ itself has not been copyrighted by either party.
This week, Moghimi received notification that his app, Magic Adblock, would be removed from the App Store, as the dispute between the two parties had not been resolved. In the email notifying Moghimi of the decision, Apple said that while they regretted the dispute had not been resolved, they retain the right under the developer terms and conditions to remove applications from the App Store “if they feel it is necessary or prudent to do so.” However, as Magic Adblock claims they never used Adblock Plus’ trademarked logo or name, the basis for the infringement claim is annoyingly vague.