HTC Sends LevelUp Studio C&D For Beautiful Widgets

HTC Sense is HTC’s pride and joy in the Android world so it isn’t surprising they’re trying to protect it. But the developer at LevelUp Studio, creator of Beautiful Widgets, Beautiful Silence Widgets, and Beautiful Widgets: Pack 2, was probably surprised when he received a Cease & Desist order from HTC. He tweeted about the C&D earlier today:

levelup-cd

His applications quite obviously mimic the familiar HTC widgets that come with HTC Sense.

beautiful-widgets beautiful-widgets2 beautiful-widgets3

They say imitation is the best form of flattery but it doesn’t seem like HTC was very flattered. The most obvious factor that plays into all this is that LevelUp Studio was SELLING the applications… although I’m sure there would have been a problem if they were free as well, this probably escalated concerns at HTC.

Visiting any LevelUp Studio application from Android Market now yields the following description:

*PEOPLE BACKUP BEAUTIFUL WIDGETS*

HTC sent me a C&D, I have to remove the widgets from the market soon, so please back it up if you want to keep it, using appmanager or ASTRO file manager.

Commendable that he is letting his customers know… but I wonder what HTC thinks about that. I’m also wondering what would happen if his customers were to file a complaint with Google and ask for a refund – could Google be forced to grant it and the developer end up getting charged back lots and lots of monies?

These are the sticky details you get involved with when you tread in grey areas. But yeah, if you’ve purchased a Beautiful Widgets application from LevelUp Studios you’re going to want to back it up… because it won’t be available much longer.

[Thanks Michael]

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  • Zaggs

    If he was charging he should have thought to cut HTC in on it. Otherwise he had to see this coming. Because people then say “well you dont have to get a HTC phone because you can put these apps on that look exactly like Sense”. Could be worse, they could have sued him for payment.

  • CJ

    Why would he see this coming? He’s not using any of HTC’s code. I’m sure HTC doesn’t have leg to stand on with this but they figured he’d cave in because he’s a small developer. There are dozens of clock widgets in the market and sure HTC can’t have a patent for animated weather on a touchscreen.

  • rigamrts

    but they do have a leg cause the 2 products look similar in design it infringes on thier trademark. sorry but he was dead the day he put it on the market. i saw it comming but didn’t figure it’d take this long.

  • J

    He should have seen this one comming as he is using the same look and feel as HTC Sense. Doesn’t matter if the backend is completely diffrent, if the look and feel is copy righted then he’s in trouble. You can’t create your own work but copy the look of another companies product and sell it as your own.

  • Jimbobwey

    Totally backed it up. Take that HTC!

  • Reggie

    C&D means now, not after a few days of trying to make another buck or two. LevelUp is treading water while wearing ankle weights at this point (the thin ice has melted).

  • http://supitsmike.blogspot.com Michael

    That’s like saying every bite off of an iPod should be sued. Just because one person creates a really good look-alike, it doesn’t mean that that person should be sued.

    It just means that the design wasn’t so difficult to reproduce.

    What I don’t understand is that how could any developer “see it coming”. He didn’t use any source code. And, I agree with @CJ. There are a plethora of clocks on the market that look remarkably like the real HTC Clocks, and nothing has been done. Yet.

    But what’s sad is that just because this particular pack of widgets gains momentum, he gets the chop for it.

  • freebirds87

    As long as this developer didn’t directly use code or other sources belonging to HTC, I don’t see the damn problem. It’s OPEN SOURCE. He was simply giving the people who don’t have Sense UI on their device an alternative. Maybe if HTC had done this, he wouldn’t of had to.

    You know that Open Source communities are not the place for stingy people. I understand HTC’s concern but at the same time can’t help but think, this developer was not stealing any business from them, they should have let the developer be.

  • NotSoSilent

    HTC widgets are not open source… don’t know why people would assume that either. HTC has every right especially if he’s charging for his widgets. Which also proves the point that it’s not open source, if it was he wouldn’t able to charge for it. The Sense UI is what makes HTC devices different than other Android devices.

  • hector

    You can copyright a name, even a logo, but not an entire look&feel. You can patent things like “a clock with retro style”, but that’s another battle. I dont know the whole details, but I would have required them a patent infrigement list. Otherwise, copyright does not apply to self made graphics for an UI (if he used HTC bitmap files, then it’s a different story).

    To sum up: the clock, the sun and the clouds are not a company’s public image, it’s the implementation of an UI, so no copyright applies.

  • Fourthletter

    I think people should recognise the difference between open and closed source.
    The Android OS is open source but HTC sense is not, it’s not a surprise they would issue a C&D, Sense is what sells HTC phones over competitors.
    It ridiculous that other commentors think if it’s easily copied it can’t be copyrighted, what utter drivel !
    Why doesn’t the developer just look up some classic old clocks and make nice clean sharp widgets based on those and not someone elses IP ?

  • hector

    @J

    That’s not true. You can buy a handbag that looks EXACTLY as a D&G, as long as it DOESNT have THE D&G LOGO. First is “imitation”, second is “falsification”.

  • Fourthletter

    @Hector

    Are you a lawyer ? If so you are a bad one, look and feel cannot be copyrighted but they can still sue and if he can’t afford to defend then he has to obey the C&D.
    This really isn’t defendable he ripped off their widgets why doesn’t he just come up with some original ones ?

  • LD

    How do I back up the widgets using Astro? I can’t even find where they’re stored.

  • kidphat

    Dangit, I was going to get this when I got my Nexus One.

  • rigamrts

    guys remember this is software copyright law. since this guy ripped the images off of the htc widgets raher than creating his own the c&d stands. i should know this guy bragged about ripping the image files when he did it all over xda site. before you start saying how htc in being mean. take a look at this guy who ripped off the images from htc’s trademarked widgets and sold them as his own.

  • Dave

    He specifically mentions that it looks like the HTC version in his description. Which means he is using HTC to sell his product.

    LevelUpStudios would have a better leg to stand on if they hadn’t done that. Just let everyone see it for themselves that it looks similar would have been enough to get the idea across, but hell I found it by doing a search on “HTC”.

    No wonder HTC is upset.

  • rigamrts

    by all rights htc can put a hurtin on the the whole rom comunity if they wanted to. but they only hit up this guy cause he was charging for his work. now leave it at that. the guys a thief and that’s that.

  • lekky

    Have to side with HTC. If he gave them away it may be different, its the fact he’s charging for it…

  • Dave

    Heeeeeeeey

    I just noticed the HTC themselves uploaded 3 test apps to the App store.

    Could maybe they be getting ready to sell the widgets themselves?

    http://www.androlib.com/android.developer.htc-corporation-FtE.aspx

  • Reggie

    People don’t care about IP rights unless it’s their stuff being copied. Had LevelUp done original work and someone copied and distributed that, they’d have gone ape over it, I’ve no doubt.

  • WhyKillRobots

    Backed it up! What a great app…

  • http://www.derrickisonline.com Derrick

    He can make some small changes so that it doesn’t look like HTC’s widgets and he’s gold again. Make things look a little different and it’s a done deal.

  • Izzyd

    What a joke. I can understand why they are doing it but come on if it was that much of a concern why didn’t they do something when it happened over a XDA and was being talked about. Fact is now what wil happen is all the people that have it and backed up the app someone will post the app/file online for everyone to snag and it will be free. So at the end of the day HTC accomplished nothing IMO besides stopping someone making money off there look. thx HTC the rest of us will now get them and not have to pay for it. WOOT!!!!!

  • rigamrts

    derrick the guy ripped off htc in the first place. i know who he is cause he bragged about it when he first did it. i have one of the first beta roms he created before he started charging. this guy couldn’t create an original widget if he tried. all of his code is based off of htc’s widgets none of it is his own code.

  • keith

    I have this app and love it. It sucks that he has to stop putting this out. As I am a programmer I believe in respecting everyones IP. That being said, how can I buy the same thing from HTC? I will pay them $1.49 for the app that lets me put this on my Droid. Wait,I can’t get it? Why not? Oh I have to buy their phone. So to get the clock I want I have to pay $400 since my contract isn’t expired. Next we will have Apple suing over bubbles on handcent. It even says iphone on the settings!

    Or how about timex suing over using a flip design that they had on clocks 30 years ago. Sorry but unless HTC starts selling their widgets they shouldn’t complain.

  • rigamrts

    lzzyd this is how long it takes to get a c&d. not that they were dragging thier feet. it takes time and red tape to get a c&d letter legal. remember a judge has to sign it. so htc has to be sure they will win if it get callenged since people forget GPL is defended by a group called the FSF which has just as much money as htc to fight a battle. he’s a thief the only thing your saying is you support pirating.

  • Turtle

    rigamrts, you must be mistaken, that was not him as all, Levelup did everything, graphics, code, they just took too much inspiration from HTC

  • Usman

    You guys are severely overlooking the fact that mimicry isn’t always infringement. As a law student, who’s studied copyrights and IP law, I would strongly advise the developer to consult with an attorney. Worst case scenario, the dev can make some adjustments and continue on his merry way and HTC can suck it. I have to say though, that I don’t think HTC has a strong case… they’re just trying to intimidate him.

  • Insomniac

    Who cares, backed it up. I payed for it, so I’m keeping it. I’ll stop using it the day that HTC releases a replacement app, and doesn’t force you to use their crap UI just to have a nice clock.

  • Avon

    I don’t think they can sue for this. They are not using their trade mark. You cannot trademark a flip calendar, its a flip calendar. You cannot patent a calendar on a desktop or a weather widget.

    The author should have made them not so similar so they cannot sue for trademark infringement. Since they look so similar, it would be like selling the HTC UI.

    In my not so legally informed opinion, I think they are dissimilar enough to win in court, but it’s a huge company against a little guy. Nothing you can realistically do.

  • Z-liberator

    I support Pirating and pirates however if pirates get caught its time to pay the piper, they marketed it using “HTC Sense” name what did he expect take the money you made and make something original.

  • Shiggs

    I want my money back then…

  • jason

    HTC doesn’t have a leg to stand on. If he was using their trademarked words or phrases like “HTC” or “Sense”, he needs to stop. Other than that, he may need to do a bit of re-branding, but he’s golden.

  • Kyle

    HTC does have a claim here unfortunately. Trade dress is covered under IP law. They developed a look and feel for their product and marketed it as SenseUI. To make a product that matches that “look and feel” would be a violation of the trademark, the trade dress, and depending on the back end coding the copyright. It sucks because it is a great app, but it is a great app because it essentially gives non-HTC owners the HTC experience. Unfortunately, HTC is well within their rights here and the developer was clearly in the wrong. And it would have to be really clear because judges need to believe there is a high likelihood of success in a claim for them to sign a C&D.

  • D2K

    @hector You can’t copyright a name,logo or a look and feel. Those can be trademarked. HTC may also have some patents (valid or invalid)that protect specific functionality, but this is mostly about harassing a small vendor who is filling a market niche.

  • myt3g

    sooo when in the world is the my touch 3g getting a update all mytouch users has been stuck with 1.6 forever!!!! i been using android before the g1 even came out i just needto know cuz the moto droid and eris have the eclair come on push that update to everyone elsee

  • hector

    How the hell you could trademark a UI? That’s nonsense, at least here in europe. Fashion industry would be a C&D fest!!

  • rigamrts

    tradmarking a UI. Hmm lets see here maybe cause htc wrote the program which is called sence ui. in the system app folder there’s a file called sense.apk that’s how sense works the other widgets are designed to work with sense. and to the person who thinks he created the beutiful widgets images by himself is feeding the lie. the guy ripped the images from the apks. maybe tweaked them a little but ultimatly it’s htc’s designs htc’s sweat all he did was make it work without sense which is still a big no no. this is htc’s ip and just cause we here on the armchair jury think otherwise. doesn’t make it true. htc definatly ripped his apk open looked inside and saw thier code meshed with his. c&d’s don’t get signed cause htc thought he took their ip. they have to get proof which they did. that’s what happened to blackberry when they infringed and got raped cause they thought cause their server was in canada where a patent wasn’t filed they were safe. but because they sold devices that used the technology in the us. we all know what happened. that’s also what happened to apple when they got caught with multi touch claiming they held the patent. i can keep on going as far as examples

  • troy

    Good….if you wanted your interface to look like Hero….you should have bought one!

  • AJ

    how do you back this up with Astro?

  • SheriffA

    What a jerk move by HTC. The developer should release the source code and call it a source code “example”. Then we can compile it ourselves and bypass HTC. If i was the developer that is what I would do!

  • Eddie Android

    This is sad, i rooted my G1 to use the hero rom just for this widget ( but later found it crashed with keyboard out) so i just bought this widget instead and wanted to use on my next Android phone (crosses fingers “NEXUS”) but now i cant unless my backed up version works on it. Guys theres still a similar widget calles “Weather Widget-Donate”!

  • brett lewis

    First off, Im fairly certain the dev wrote it from scratch
    Secondly, Since when was a look and feel tradmarkable
    Thirdly, HTC, I no longer love you.

  • Ross

    @SheriffA Brilliant idea! That way instead of a C&D, HTC can prosecute and or/sue for damages. Developer would be screwed but you’d have your “free” widget.

  • Chad

    Please…..somebody….how do I back this up with Astro?

  • Chad

    Okay…to back up Beautiful Widgets, do the following:

    1) Open Astro
    2) Press the phone’s menu button
    3) Select “Tools” option
    4) Select “Application Manager/Backup”
    5) Check the Apps you want to back up
    6) Press the “Backup” button.

    The app is now stored on your SD card in the “backups” folder.

    Enjoy!!!1

  • asqwerth

    I don’t know why people are so upset at HTC. It’s not merely “look and feel” they are protecting; there is copyright in artwork itself, and the design of the flipclock plus the incorporated weather elements were copied. In my opinion, the slight changes made to the artwork in Beautiful Widgets were not enough to avoid being an infringing copy of someone else’s artwork.
    Second, even if HTC does not intend to sell their own widgets, they probably have to take the stated steps to protect their artwork and IP, because not doing so would dilute their IP and weaken their rights. They’ve invested a lot in Sense UI, and are understandably proud of it. It’s a way to distinguish themselves from the rest of the Android phone makers. They can’t let inaction weaken that distinctiveness.

  • Condi Ryce

    HTC has never copied anything? Hmmmm…

  • hector

    @rigamrts

    I’m ok with that. If the graphics are ripped, then C&D them to death.

  • Barry

    Great. So I assume I am getting a refund!

  • brett lewis

    I sent these to levelupstudios as ideas to make them look different but still good, don’t think he is using either idea unfortunately but thought I would show them to someone.
    http://i45.tinypic.com/35845fn.png
    http://i46.tinypic.com/2j4uate.jpg

  • Terry

    @Brett Lewis

    I like those, maybe someone can make those into an app if the developer doesn’t want to change his app.

  • asqwerth

    @Brett Lewis:
    Very nice.

  • webby

    Weather Widgets – Donate (includes the Flip Clock — same appearance) is higher resolution and updates better and smoother than Beautiful Widgets. I have bought and tried both. As of this morning, WW is still up on the market, but they may get their C&D order and get pulled soon, so check it out and buy soon if you are interested.

  • Pushabutton

    any chance the “killswitch” option will be exercised and it’ll be wiped from existence? Didn’t I read that ALL smartphones have a killswitch in them now, or is that just Apple®

  • Str8geek

    Weather Widgets is awesome.

  • Pingback: Beautiful Widgets Are Back! | Android Phone Fans

  • http://thisone michael

    i would like to get a copy of the old widget emailed to me if possible. who should i contact to get it.

  • Sara K

    I’m sad because I didn’t hear about this until after I updated. I miss my flipclock :(

  • David C

    So that you know. Weather Widgets does look similar to the HTC Clock/Weather widget. I don’t have my Droid yet but I just downloaded it from the below website because I like the look of those widgets and I don’t want to loose it, just in case Weather Widgets get pulled. It contains the APK file to install the widget with.

    http://www.4shared.com/file/119989633/4672da56/Weather_Widget_v21_-_wwwtips-boxblogspotcom.html

  • David C

    Sorry but as a side note on that, it’s a RAR file you download so I recommend first unRARing the file first on your PC and then copy over to your Android phone while it is connected and mounted to your PC.

  • shelstir

    How do you change the face?

  • lol

    lol @ the comments.

    You guys are making such a big deal out of a C&D and all the legal problems he may have. Companies send out TONS of C&D’s everyday. Do you think they have all the time and money to have their lawyers sue every small developer that makes a couple icons look like Sense? No. It’s a waste of time and money.

    So no, he won’t get into any legal problems and he’ll be up and running again once he makes some changes to his UI.