Apple has kicked a popular iOS game out of the App Store after a Chinese company stole its name.
Clicker Heroes, which first made its debut on iPhone and iPad back in 2015, is a highly-rated idle RPG from Playsaurus. It’s usually free to download, but it’s no longer available on iOS.
There’s currently no word on if or when it will return, but it doesn’t look good.
Apple has removed titles from the App Store for puzzling and frustrating reasons in the past. This is another one of those cases.
Developer Playsaurus has done nothing wrong. It didn’t break any App Store rules or regulations. But thanks to a shady Chinese company, its game had to get the boot.
What happened to Clicker Heroes?
Clicker Heroes is a hugely popular game with a “very positive” rating on Steam after a whopping 47,000 reviews. It held a place in the App Store for almost four years, earning decent cash.
That was until a Chinese company, Shenzhen Lingyou Technology Co., Ltd., trademarked the Clicker Heroes name in China — then asked Apple to pull the original game.
Playsaurus holds trademarks for the name in the U.S. and Europe. You might think that’s enough to protect the game in those markets — but apparently not.
Apple has booted Clicker Heroes from App Stores worldwide.
Clicker Heroes came first
In a post on Reddit, the Playsaurus co-founder and CEO explains that their game was using the Clicker Heroes name first. There’s evidence of this on a Chinese web portal dating back to 2014.
But because Playsaurus didn’t file a trademark application locally, Shenzhen Lingyou Technology was able to come along in February 2015 — around three months after Clicker Heroes made its debut as a Flash game — and steal the name.
“Despite explaining this as clear as I could to Apple and the 3rd party, Apple sided with the cloners and took my game down,” the Reddit post explains. “We don’t have the resources to fight a legal trademark battle in China so I guess that’s the end of our game.”
Other Redditors are encouraging Playsaurus to file a lawsuit against Apple and pressure it into re-releasing the game in every country except China. But Playsaurus isn’t confident it will work, and says it cannot afford a legal battle.
“It looks like we can’t challenge it,” the creator says. “It appears that China’s trademark/IP laws are completely different from any Western countries [sic], and Apple just has to do what they say.”
“If you make a game, unless you have ridiculous resources to spend on registering properly in China in advance, you just have to accept China to be a loss. Someone there will steal it.”
Things don’t look good for Clicker Heroes right now, then, and its absence from the App Store is said to be costing Playsaurus as much as $300 a day.
We’ve contacted Apple for comment and we’ll update this story if we get a response.