Startup seeks $200,000 from Apple over 'stolen' Shortcuts app icon

Apple's Shortcuts icon (left) vaguely resembles Shift's official logo.

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Apple's iOS 12 operating system, unveiled earlier this week, is already the target of a $200,000 legal overture alleging the design of the tech giant's new Shortcuts app icon was cribbed from the logo of tech startup Shift.

It took Shift, which markets an app that uses blockchain technology to create websites, less than four days to draft a cease and desist letter requesting Apple stop infringing on its intellectual property, reports The Sun. Apple debuted Shortcuts at its Worldwide Developers Conference keynote in San Jose, Calif., on Monday.

Apple's Shortcuts icon, seen above, depicts two generic iOS app icon silhouettes overlaid one atop the other. Partial gradients are applied to both "squircles," as are selective transparencies to achieve a final design that resembles an "S" shape, for "Shortcuts."

Shift's logo employs a similar design theme, albeit in block form, and a vaguely comparable color palette. Instead of overlaying two separate graphical entities, the logo is akin to a long strip of translucent material with two folds that, when viewed from the correct angle, creates an "S."

"It's mind-blowing that Apple, the firm with the biggest cash pile in history, the firm that is so design oriented, had to copy our logo," a Shift spokesperson said.

In its letter, Shift's legal representatives note the company sinks "substantial time and effort" in promoting the official logo, which customers recognize as the firm's trademark. As such, the design has become "an asset of susbtantial [sic] value and a symbol of our client's goodwill."

Shift demands Apple either redesign the Shortcuts icon or pay $200,000, a sum that will supposedly be used to create new branding assets for the startup.

"We are not necessarily trying to go after Apple," the spokesperson said. "They can keep the logo if they reimburse us for a new one."

Apple has yet to respond to the letter, the report said.

Shortcuts is a highlight iOS 12 feature that allows users to create and run app macros via a custom Siri phrase. For example, an iPhone user can create a shortcut called "I lost my keys" that automatically pings a connected Bluetooth-enabled Tile tracker.

Apple product manager Kim Beverett demonstrated the system onstage, using the app's drag-and-drop editor to add a series of actions to a customized Shortcut called "Heading Home." When spoken, the phrase commanded Siri to query Maps for a navigation route, send a custom text via Messages, set a home thermostat and begin playback of KQED Radio.

Shortcuts ships with iOS 12 later this year.