iPhone beer maker sues Carling over virtual suds

Demands $12.5m for the pint that isn't


An iPhone app developer is suing the Molson Coors Brewing company for over $12.5m in damages for allegedly copying his $3 novelty beer-pouring application and offering it on iTunes for free.

Steve Sheraton, operator of Nevada-based Hottrix, claims the idea for his iBeer app was illegitimately lifted by the brewing conglomerate and used to advertise its Carling brand of beer.

Hottrix's iBeer app uses the iPhone's accelerometer to simulate a frothy glass of beer being poured when the device is tilted. It's designed to look like the user is drinking a beer, without the hassle of actually consuming a delicious and refreshing beverage.

Sheraton's first version of iBeer was essentially a video of pouring beer made for jailbroken iPhones and the Palm Pilot. He registered a US copyright for "iBeer Video" in May 2008.

The lawsuit claims Sheraton was first contacted by Coors' UK advertising agency to license his iBeer 1.0 software, but after being rejected, it nevertheless used Sweden's Illusion Labs to create a near-identical app called iPint.

Both iPint and newly-interactive iBeer 2.0 were offered at the iTunes store when it was first opened to developers in July. But not only was iPint offered gratis on iTunes (contrary to iBeer's $3 price tag), but it also included small, optional game where the user navigates a beer sliding down a bar while avoiding obstacles. Shereton claims the addition was made to "create a false distinction between the Infringing App and the iBeer Content."

"On information and belief, as iPint increased in popularity, iBeer 2.0 decreased in popularity since end-users could get ostensibly the same application without a direct cost (besides viewing the Carling adversing) of paying $2.99 for iBeer 2.0," the filing states.

That July, Hottrix sent a cease and desist letter to the makers of iPint. The app was shortly removed from iTunes for US users, but remains available in most other countries.

Sheraton claims iPint has since enjoyed over 6,000,000 downloads worldwide, all of which "significantly impair the downloading of the iBeer Content." He's asking California's Central District Court to award damages in excess of $12,540,000 for lost profits, alternative statutory damages plus interest, or alternative restitution, "whichever is higher."

The story comes by way of Wired. A copy of the lawsuit is available here (PDF). ®


Other stories you might like

  • DigitalOcean tries to take sting out of price hike with $4 VM
    Cloud biz says it is reacting to customer mix largely shifting from lone devs to SMEs

    DigitalOcean attempted to lessen the sting of higher prices this week by announcing a cut-rate instance aimed at developers and hobbyists.

    The $4-a-month droplet — what the infrastructure-as-a-service outfit calls its virtual machines — pairs a single virtual CPU with 512 MB of memory, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 500 GB a month in network bandwidth.

    The launch comes as DigitalOcean plans a sweeping price hike across much of its product portfolio, effective July 1. On the low-end, most instances will see pricing increase between $1 and $16 a month, but on the high-end, some products will see increases of as much as $120 in the case of DigitalOceans’ top-tier storage-optimized virtual machines.

    Continue reading
  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022