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cease and desist

Last week the official YouTube app for Windows Phone received a major overhaul. Version 3.0 of the app brought some awesome Windows Phone 8 features like the ability to play under Lockscreen, download videos for offline play, pinnable channels and more. It went from web-wrapper to awesome with the recent update. Google now wants the app removed from the Store for violating YouTube’s API and Terms of Service.

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With Facebook Beta for Windows Phone 8 (and soon for Windows Phone 7) becoming more mainstream on the platform, one can’t help but notice all of the copycat apps on the Store, causing brand confusion.

One devilish one is literally called “Facebook WP8 beta”, in an obvious attempt to steer naïve people towards their app.

That’s not to say there aren’t some genuine attempts to make a better Facebook app for Windows Phone users, indeed there are several with nothing but good intent by the developer. But at the end of the day, corporations need to protect their brand and with 41 clone apps on the Store competing with their official one, Facebook has evidently had enough.

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We don't enjoy relaying news such as this, but it appears as though Volt Link, an app enabling Windows Phone owners who are OnStar subscribers (www.onstar.com) to access actions and functionality using the handset, will no longer be supported or available on Windows Phone.

The developer has revealed to a Windows Phone Central reader that a cease and desist letter was sent by GM/OnStar, requesting the immediate withdrawal of the app from the Store.

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Bad news for those of you who use the free app BandWidth for testing your internet speeds on your Windows Phone, the site SpeedTest.net has sent the developer a cease and desist letter.

Even though BandWidth doesn't advertise itself as a SpeedTest.net app nor uses their logo or name, it does use their servers for testing. Evidently the company decided to exercise their rights and they asked the developer Blake (aka 'microhaxo') to pull the app from the Marketplace. Blake has informed us that he'll do just that noting

"It was a great run, and I'm glad I was able to help so many people."

Indeed sir, it was a mighty fine app that we used regularly for our Windows Phone device reviews. The app was well designed, updated frequently, had no ads and was free -- what more could you ask from a developer?  (We've of course grabbed a XAP from the Marketplace for safe-keeping).

We could almost forgive SpeedTest.net if they were ready to roll out a Windows Phone app but so far we don't hear anything official coming our way.

Pickup Bandwidth v4.2 here in the Marketplace while you still can (ironically, it was just updated today) and check our the rest of Blake's apps here.

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Intellectual property is a tough area in software and game development--often the lines are blurred and depending on how fierce the IP owner is, enforcement has a huge ranged from nothing too stringent.

Windows Phone developer Marios Karagiannis who has published the popular 'Monster Up' game has another in the Marketplace called 'Tetrada' which yes, is very much a Tetris clone. He just received a C&D letter from "Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A. Attorneys at Law, on behalf of the Tetris Company asking us to remove Tetrada from the Marketplace because they say it looks too similar to their game and violates the copyright of Tetris (TM)."

Marios, being an indie, student developer is of course complying as he has no resources to take on such a company--who has been vehement about enforcing their IP of the Tetris brand on other platforms. The question is, of course, what does the Tetris company have a claim on? The name? The logo or the actual game play? We're not sure, but Marios is under the impression it is just the name/logo, not the game play itself, in which case his game does not violate their copyright.

The game is being pulled as we speak from the Marketplace and had fetched for $0.99. We bought it anyways, because hey, these things are now like collector items. Having said that, it's actually a darn nice game--outstanding graphics, good UI and a pleasure to play. And that's probably the rub here: this game was better than the Tetris brand on Windows Phone (see review).

Either way, consider this fair warning for other Tetris clones in the Marketplace, of which there seem to be quite a few.

While we won't take a position on the merits of the IP dispute here (you can do that in comments if you wish) you can read the developer's thoughts here on his blog. (And if you want to try and snag Tetrada while you can, it's here).

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