The OS 6 theme by WJD Designs was by far one of the best OS 6 themes available. The theme has recently been pulled from the Mobihand network in response to action by RIM legal and is no longer available.
This is bad news for a few reasons. For one, killing the OS 6 theme by WJD Designs sends a message to all theme developers that you could at any moment be at the mercy of RIM’s inflated and unfocused legal team. Second, it sends a message to the users that regardless of whether or not RIM will be able to support their device with OS 6, you may not be able to purchase a theme that tries to effectively mimic the UI and style. Third, it shows RIM’s legal and marketing departments are totally uncoordinated at the detriment of the organization at large.
Imitation is the highest form of flattery, and RIM should see the success of the OS 6 theme as a compliment. What if the company took the complete opposite approach and invited WJD Designs to help create an official OS 6 theme that would be given free to all users who do not have a device that can support OS 6? Not only would the entire community be appreciative, but you would be sending a message to theme developers that if you create something the community loves, you will be rewarded.
According to WJD Designs, RIM legal provided no legal justification for insisting on the removal of the OS 6 theme. We are still waiting to hear back from Mobihand, and will update this article with their feedback. Until then, lets assume it was a trademark issue.
The only word that WJD Designs uses that could refer to RIM/BlackBerry is “OS 6″. Taking a look at RIM’s trademark documentation, it doesn’t look like they have a trademark for this term. They have the following trademarked:
In terms of logo trademarks, RIM seems to only have trademarks for the following (none of which are UI-based):
Mobihand is generally a Wild West of trademark infringement and don’t require theme developers to submit proof of trademark ownership/licensing. RIM generally leaves the Mobihand storefront alone because they want additional application channels and blogs like BlackBerryCool can make a few extra dollars to stay in business and provide a place for discussion about the product. So if OS 6 doesn’t use any trademarking owned by RIM, at least explicitly, why are they targeting this theme in particular? And why haven’t they pulled any of the other OS 6 themes (BT Design’s OS 6 theme and !6 theme by BBThemes)? It seems the only answer is simply that it was too good.
UPDATE: From Mobihand: “MobiHand has been contacted in the past about similar products, with a claim of infringement. We are not staffed to evaluate such claims, and in order to minimize risk, we remove products from stores where we believe they pose a risk of infringement. We’re not taking a stand on the appropriateness or legality of these products, only on our need to play it safe vis a vis risk of possible infringement.”