Patently similar -- Where To asks Apple how come?NewsBy Dennis Schaal | August 6, 2010Share This article was originally published on FutureTap, the developer of the location-based iPhone app Where To?, is asking Apple how come?In a blog post, FutureTap published these eerily similar photos of its Where To? app (at left) and a drawing from an Apple patent application [see Figure 6]:Ortwin Gentz, the FutureTap CEO, wrote in the blog post: "We’re faced with a situation where we’ve to fear that our primary business partner is trying to 'steal' our idea and design. So how to deal with that? — As some of you know, we’ve always been more than grateful for the platform Apple created. And, in fact, still are. However, we can’t ignore it if the #1 recognition value of our (currently) only app potentially is under fire."TechCrunch points out that Apple has used several drawings of apps developers in its patent applications and that the depictions don't necessarily translate into intent to execute an outright theft of intellectual property.Still, if Apple's motives are pure, doesn't it have a few artists on staff who could come up with their own artwork for patent applications?Where To -- a.k.a. FutureTap -- now has to figure out "where to" with all of this.As Gentz writes: "I’m not a lawyer. I can’t really judge whether the inclusion of a 1:1 copy of our start screen in someone else’s patent is legal. I just have to say, it doesn’t feel right. (If you can recommend a good, affordable patent lawyer, please let us know.) The perspective of an endless legal battle, however, is not very intriguing for a small company like us that aims to throw all its power into improving existing and developing new apps. So we definitely hope there’ll be an easy solution. Perhaps it’s just a flaw in the filing that can be fixed easily. If someone from Apple Legal reads these lines, you’re welcome to discuss."The issue certainly should give pause to Apple's third-party apps developers.On the other hand, Apple is the biggest game in town.Note: Shout-outs to FutureTap and Patently Apple on the pics.