Black Hat Tactics in the App Store Against SignNow & Others

This post was submitted by Chris Hawkins and the SignNow team About two weeks ago, we woke up to find that a new app on the App Store had launched – with the name: SignNow by GameStruct, Inc. As a security company, Barracuda constantly watches for a huge range of violations and issues, including IP ones such as this.  The app lacks most of the essential features for a business user, and seems to be buggy still, so we don’t worry about it from a competitor perspective, we simply worry about it confusing our brand. Within a day we sent a Cease and Desist letter.  As we dug in deeper, we uncovered a web of black hat tactics and rip-offs that exposed some of the dark underbelly of App Store developers. Compare the two applications below:     We dug in more, and uncovered a web of behavior designed to confuse consumers into purchasing their apps, rather than compete in the marketplace.   Originally, this same codebase was released as an app under the name “SignPDF” Dec 9, 2013, by the developer Tektrify, Inc.  This app was a rip-off of an app really named SignPDF.  January 7, 2014, the same app was released as SignNow (with some minor iOS7 tweaks).  See below:         So here are two “separate” developers, releasing effectively the same app, weeks apart, violating the trademarks/app names in order to confuse customers into what app is “real” and collect downloads.   Who are GameStruct and Tektrify? GameStruct has released a series of apps:   A glance at some of these highlights that the GameStruct’s apps shows most of them to follow the same formula: Step 1: Find a successful app Step 2: Release a lightly featured version of the app with multiple paying mechanisms Step 3: Harvest mistaken downloads and confusion and convert this to cash   Tektrify appears to follow the same strategy. “>     They are almost certainly the same people.  They have the same...

read more