Apple are facing legal action after a developer accused the company of infringing on their patent. If true, this suit could cost the mobile giant a fortune. The feature in question is the secure Sign-in with Apple, as announced at WWDC2019.
Apple announced that when using the sign-in feature, the company would no longer share your email address with the service you’re signing into.
What is Sign-In with Apple?
The more secure Sign-in with Apple service would generate a unique email address entirely different for your actual Apple account address.
Apple’s solution to offering a single sign-on and still securing user privacy was applauded by everyone when it was announced at WWDC19. Well, everyone except maybe the team at Blix.
Who are Blix?
Blix is a software house who’ve had some run-ins with Apple previously. Blix had previously accused the company of trying to suppress their app Blue Mail in their app store search rankings.
Apple definitely knows the app exists. At some point, Apple apparently by accident buried Blue Mail’s app listing in their app store way lower than it should have been.
Apple eventually acknowledged there might be problems with their app store rankings. At the time of the dispute, Blue Mail was languishing in 143rd in the search results.
After Apple’s admission about the problems and fixing the apparent problem, Blix and Blue Mail are back up to 13th. So that’s the backstory: Blix are responsible for Blue Mail, an email management app.
Why is Blix suing Apple?
Now Blix are suing Apple, claiming that the idea behind Apple’s anonymised Sign-in with Apple infringes on their 2017 patent.
Blix claims that the concept of generating a unique email address for sign-in is a rip-off of their own feature. Blix’s feature allows users to keep their personal email private and share a public email for messaging.
I’m no patent lawyer, so it’s hard to say whether Blix will be able to protect their patent on anonymising email addresses, given the very different use of Apple’s implementation of the technology.
With Apple having already gone full steam ahead with the tech, Blix winning in the courts could cost Apple a lot.
If they were to lose, they’d most likely need to decide between ditching the technology completely or licensing it from Blix; which could mean a massive windfall for the Blix team.
The whole story sounds a little bit sketchy, and hopefully, this entire thing was just some big misunderstanding.