I did not copy Futulele with the guitarism iPad version.
Let me back up a bit. Yesterday I got email from Apple stating that you'd filed a copyright infringement claim that guitarism on iPad "blatantly copies and advertises the novel interface concept (overall handling, string position, method of chord input, chord label positions, device orientation) that we have first used in our app Futulele."
I'll respond to Apple on this. But first I want to tell you, one guy to another, that I did not copy Futulele. This is the sincere, honest truth and I wish I could look you in the eye and tell you this in person so you might know that I'm not making this up. I know you think I copied you, and you're hurting about that. I get it. I'm an indie music app developer just like you. These apps are not just products to us. We put our heart and soul into them, they are our blood, sweat and tears. If I thought someone else copied my personal creation and claimed it as their own, I would be shocked and furious. But this is not what happened here. I hope you can find it in yourself to believe me, because it will bring you peace to know this truth.
What happened is that I designed the best possible guitar strumming interface I could, and it ended up looking similar to Futulele (and other apps released before Futulele - more on that later). In fact, someone mentioned the similarity to Futulele after my April 11 launch, and I then downloaded your (excellent) app to take a look. I have an App Store receipt from April 11 for Futulele. I also have many email records from before April 11, discussing various guitarism iPad layout options with Ryan Hemeon (who did the new graphic artwork for guitarism), and in none of those emails did we plan to copy Futulele or other guitar apps. The discussion was always about functionality, usability and ergonomics.
The receipts and email proof isn't the point. The point is that I didn't do what you think I did. This is important to me, and I know it's important to you. Please take my word on this, I'm telling you the truth.
Now I Am Not A Lawyer so take this with a huge pinch of salt, but my limited understanding of copyright is as follows:
Accidental infringement is still infringement, but general interface similarity is not infringement: If someone had never heard Stairway to Heaven but then wrote a song with the exact same melody, lyrics etc, that is still copyright infringement even though it's accidental. But using similar chord progressions (even if intentional) would not be infringement. I believe our situation is similar. If I had outright used Futulele's screen images or audio files, that would be clear infringement. If I had copied Futulele's interface layout exactly, down to the pixel, that might still be considered infringement (or at least, a case could be made). This is neither. Yes, the apps look similar. But not that similar.
Precedent (aka "prior art") matters a lot: Real Guitar and Guitar Max both look like Futulele and were available on iPad many months before Futulele launched (images and dates below). Thus Futulele's interface was never truly unique and is not copyrightable.
iPad support released June 17, 2011
Released Aug 2, 2011
Released May 25, 2012
iPad support released April 11, 2013
I don't believe you copied those other apps, Futulele's similarity to them is just as accidental as guitarism's similarity to Futulele. Honestly I look at this and I just say "great minds think alike". I respect you as a developer and I know you work hard to be creative, innovative, you care about ergonomics, and I do all of these things too. It's not that surprising that we would end up with a similar layout, because ultimately this is the best possible layout for this kind of app on this kind of device. And it's not that surprising that other app creators before us came to the same conclusion, because you and I are not the only creative guitar app developers out there.
Again, the legal angles are not my point. My point is that I didn't wrong you, and I want you to believe that because it's the truth, it will bring you peace and it will hopefully end this unnecessary spectacle that's taking place right now. I hope we can just do the right thing and move on, going back to making killer apps for our customers and fans.