Google yanks Themer app after Apple copyright complaint

Apple claimed copyright over icons used in a theme giving an iOS look to Android phones. Themer pulled the theme last week, but it took more than a week for the app to return.

Some of the Android skins that Themer had released.
Some of the Android skins that Themer had released. screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google removed Google Play access to Themer, an app to let Android users give their phones a different look, after a copyright infringement complaint from Apple about its icons.

The theme in question, called Seven, gives Android phones an iOS 7 styling, and that led to a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint, said MyColorScreen Chief Executive Ashvin Dhingra, leader of the company that makes Themer. And though Themer removed the theme in question, the app was missing for more than a week.

The app has been downloaded more than a million times and has more than 200 themes. It went into limbo when Google suspended Themer on February 2, he said. Themer found out about the action on February 3, but Google hadn't said anything beyond that initial explanatory letter.

Update at 11:29 p.m.: Google has restored the Themer App to Google Play. "Pursuant to the message you sent to us, we have reinstated the following application(s) in the Google Play Store," Google told Dhingra.

Dhingra said it was the first communication from Google since the suspension notification, which he described as follows:

Apple claimed that several icons used in Seven infringed their copyrights. We immediately removed this theme and thought that, at worst, Themer would be back on Play in a few days. But now a week later, we're facing the possibility that a few days might turn into a few weeks. We've spoken to legal representatives from Apple (who have been very nice, reasonable, and helpful), and they have no remaining concerns. But apparently, Google has a process for these things, and there's nothing we can do to accelerate that process...

We did not receive a warning. Within hours of receiving the letter from Google, we removed the Seven theme. Removing a theme does not require a change to the app as all themes are stored on our server, so as soon as we remove a theme it immediately becomes unavailable to our users. We have complied with Google's process and submitted a counter notice so Themer can be reinstated and have not heard from them.

CNET contacted Google for comment and will update this post with its response.

Dhingra has new plans for Themer.

"There are 12 people that spend all day, every day, working on Themer, and this situation, while frustrating and a bit disheartening, has not detracted from our resolve and mission," he said. "We're near completion of a new version that offers memory and battery optimizations, new customization options for the app drawer, and tons of bug fixes. We'll be ready to get this update out as soon as we're back on the Play store."

For details about the copyrights in question, read Dhingra's Facebook post about the Google Play situation.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.


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