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BlackBerry App World said to hawk pirated Android apps

Weeks before the release of BlackBerry 10, stolen Android apps are reportedly being found and sold in RIM's app store.

BlackBerry App World is said to carry pirated Android apps.
Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Sure, pirated apps can be found across the Web on sites like appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com, but you wouldn't expect to find them in legitimate app stores, such as BlackBerry App World. But, indeed, this is reportedly the case.

And, to make matters worse, the purportedly stolen apps found in the store and packaged as BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry 10 apps are actually Android apps, according to a developer who posted his woes on Reddit today.

I recently had two users email me about certain compatibility problems. They did mention that they were using Playbooks, but I figured they were running some kind of Android ROM on their devices. I asked one of them for his Google account, and he informed me that he only had a BB ID, not a Google account, and that he had downloaded the app from BB App World.

Sure enough, someone had downloaded my app from Google Play, converted the APK and published it for BB using his account, along with half a dozen other Android apps that were obviously not his own. Most of them have since been taken down, but his account remains active, and he still has three apps published that look like they might be from Google Play.

According to this developer, converting Android apps for BlackBerry smartphones is fairly simple. This makes sense considering that the new BlackBerry OS is supposed to support Android apps. Apparently, there's an online tool that easily repackages Android apps for BlackBerry. The only problem is that a pirate can then just sell the app as their own.

BlackBerry parent company Research In Motion released the final version of its BlackBerry 10 OS software for developers to start writing apps in December. The release included the final tool set and APIs for software-makers to start coding for the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphone, which is scheduled to be released on January 30.

A RIM spokesperson told CNET that the company will not tolerate app pirates or copycats and will investigate all copyright claims and seek solutions to the problem.

"RIM respects intellectual property. We expect others to do the same," the company spokesperson told CNET. "If a developer believes that their copyright or trademark rights are being infringed by third-party content on the BlackBerry App World storefront, the developer can submit a complaint to our IP team and the issue will be reviewed. In the case of copyright or trademark violations, the offending content will be removed immediately."

Updated at 8:40 p.m. PT with comment from RIM spokesperson.