This troubles me. App Developer Says Facebook Stole Idea for “Find Friends Nearby”.
I don’t know the app, haven’t used it, and I’m not a lawyer, but I hate it when people complain about some big company stealing their ideas. Ideas get copied all the time. Have you seen the web? Have you seen books, movies, or TV?
Good ideas get copied. I don’t mean software piracy or plagiarism, which I hate, isn’t legal, but is also inevitable. I do mean reverse engineering and just plain copying good idea. Like movie and fiction formulas that work. Selling points, tag lines, icons, apps, functionality, features, packaging, design … copycats get around them easily without strictly violating the law. It’s a fact of life.
Think of the history of high tech in the last generation or so. DOS copied and improved CP/M which copied something else. The original Mac copied and improved Xerox and Windows copied Mac. Lotus 1-2-3 copied and improved Visicalc and Microsoft Excel copied and improved Lotus 1-2-3.
As a writer, I hate it when people just copy my work and pretend they wrote it. But it does happen constantly.
As a software developer and publisher, I hate it when people copy my product’s tag lines and positioning but it happens all the time.
Ethical? You be the judge. Legal? I’m not an attorney, I can’t say. But I will say this: It happens all the time.