Back in October, the developers behind email app BlueMail sued Apple, alleging that the “Hide My Email” feature of “Sign in with Apple” infringes on its patented technology. The complaint also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store.
Last week, after months of making little to no progress with Apple towards having its Mac app reinstated, BlueMail co-founders Ben Volach and Dan Volach penned an open letter to the developer community that encouraged any developers who feel that Apple has kicked them out of the App Store or otherwise treated them unfairly to reach out to them and share their stories.
Just days later, the BlueMail app has returned to the Mac App Store. In a press release, BlueMail parent company Blix said it has no intention of dropping its legal case against Apple, which it believes extends beyond the removal of BlueMail on the Mac App Store to the “suppression of its iOS app and the infringement of Blix’s patented technology through ‘Sign in with Apple.'”
“We’re happy that users can once again get BlueMail through the Mac App Store, but we know this isn’t the end. Our experience has shown that until the app review process includes effective checks and balances, Apple holds too much power over small developers.” said Ben Volach, co-founder at Blix. “One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple’s App Review Board, just as a public company’s Board of Directors represents its shareholders.”
“When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple’s developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week,” said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. “If you’re out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly.”
Update: Apple has shared the following statement with MacRumors, noting that BlueMail had “refused” its help and that the App Store Review Guidelines apply evenly to all developers:
Blix’s mail app is currently available on the iOS App Store and they have a brand new communications app available on the Mac App Store. We have attempted on multiple occasions to assist them in getting their BlueMail app back on the Mac App Store. They have refused our help. The App Store has a uniform set of guidelines, equally applicable to all developers, that are meant to protect users. Blix is proposing to override basic data security protections which can expose users’ computers to malware that can harm their Macs and threaten their privacy.
Apple says Blix submitted a revised version of the BlueMail app late last week with an updated binary respecting Gatekeeper, leading to the app being reinstated on the Mac App Store on Monday. Apple says revised app submitted for review was different than what they previously submitted.