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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Apple strikes back against app name squatters

20 September 2010 Apple has moved to address the seemingly growing problem of App Store 'name squatting' - the process of registering a name for an app with no intention of uploading the actual app binary code.

The regulations, which were quietly included in Apple's recently-updated developer agreement, now give developers 90 days to upload binary to an app name registered on iTunes Connect, Apple's apps management interface. If this does not occur, Apple will reclaim the apps name and delete the app, releasing the name for another developer to use.

The issue has been raised by several Apple developers in recent months, who have reported that their desired name is unavailable, even though no actual app using the name exists. The fear is that some users could be 'squatting' on desirable app names in order to transfer them to another user for a profit, as happens frequently with Internet URLs - though it is not known if this has happened to date.

App name squatters are still required to pay the US$99 annual fee to become an official Apple developer, but this allows them to 'squat' on an unlimited amount of names (although Apple has an existing policy of reclaiming names that are trademarked). Squatting is achieved by only part completing the apps submission process, effectively leaving the name in limbo.

It is unclear how significant the problem is. An informal survey of nine developers spoken to by US website ars technica found that, collectively, they had five application names reserved in a manner that might be considered 'squatting.' However, only one developer had more than one name reserved.

♠ JC

Source: GSMA Mobile Apps Briefing