CBS legal threat forces Star Trek-like DiagnosticPADD from App Store

Paul Messias, developer for Park Bench Software, has informed iLounge that the company’s iOS app DiagnosticPADD will soon be removed from the App Store due to copyright and trademark infringement claims from CBS Interactive. The $1 universal app mimics the LCARS fictional computer operating system from Star Trek: The Next Generation; it offers functions such as viewing and emailing device information, battery status, network settings like IP address and host name, GPS coordinates, accelerometer data, microphone levels, and file system information. Messias says that the company received an email from Apple stating, “we received a notice from CBS Interactive that CBS Interactive believes your application named ‘DiagnosticPADD’ infringes CBS Interactive’s intellectual property rights. In particular, CBS Interactive states that your application is ‘…using our branded Star Trek elements’. ”

In a follow up email to CBS Interactive, the network claimed ownership of the acronym “PADD,” as well as the look and feel of the interface. “In response to your questions, the Application uses the ‘PADD’ trademark and the interface is substantially similar to CBSS’ copyrighted LCARS interface. Your use of the Series’ Properties improperly trades on the goodwill and reputation of CBSS and the Series and is likely to cause confusion among consumers that the Application is affiliated with or licensed by CBSS and/or the Series. CBSS has concluded that such use constitutes trademark infringement, dilution, passing off and misappropriation under the Lanham Act and applicable state laws, as well as copyright infringement under applicable U.S. copyright law and counterpart laws around the world.”

Park Bench Software notes that as a small developer, “[w]e certainly don’t have the legal backing or the ability to fund a defensive lawsuit,” but says that he couldn’t find evidence of a trademark for PADD, and doesn’t think that a Star Trek-inspired “look and feel” could be copyrighted. Regardless, the developer is pulling the app, and “is sad to see something we spent our time and energy on disappear.” As of this writing, the app is still available on the App Store.