Are App Store Rejections Really Covered by the NDA?

Updated 5:30 pm EDT

Yesterday I linked to this piece by Arnold Kim at MacRumors, which reports that, in response to the controversy surrounding App Store rejects such as Podcaster and MailWrangler, Apple is now asserting that rejection letters are covered by the infamous iPhone SDK non-disclosure agreement.

What I’d like to know:

  1. Is this really true? Is it possible, perhaps, that this particular rejection email came from someone in Apple developer relations who includes “THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE” in their email signature? At least one DF reader has emailed me with an example email from ADC, in response to a completely non-iPhone-related bug report, which contains that same boilerplate.

  2. If it is true — that all rejection notices contain the assertion that the notices themselves are under NDA — is it actually a new policy? Has anyone received an App Store rejection notice prior to this week which did not contain the NDA assertion?

Confidentiality guaranteed for anyone who can help answer these questions.

Update

I’ve received about two dozen responses in the five hours since I posted this entry.

Nearly all responses were from iPhone developers who received rejection notices prior to this week; according to these developers, their rejection notices from Apple did not mention the NDA. Most of these rejection notices were about specific technical issues, along the lines of “Your app cannot be published because of X and Y. Please fix X and Y and re-submit.”

Here’s a passage from the email I received from one developer who received a rejection email this week:

I am an App Store developer, and also happen to be an Intellectual Property Attorney. Β I received a rejection this week (with the famous “customer confusion” language, albeit not a “don’t compete with us” type of rejection — this one, while stupid, was easy for me to fix).

It did NOT have the NDA language in the email, and I received it the same day as or the day after the now infamous NDA rejection.

Only one developer emailed to say that he had received a rejection notice from Apple which contained the following boilerplate at the bottom of the message:

iPhone Application Review Team
Apple Developer Connection
Worldwide Developer Relations
********************************************
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE
********************************************

However, several developers indicated that they’ve been receiving email with this line in the sig from ADC representatives at Apple for years, long before the iPhone.

One developer, who writes only Mac software, not iPhone software, emailed:

I trawled through my emails to find bug reports and other correspondence from Apple Developer Connection (of which there is quite a bit).

Every one has the text:

********************************************
THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE
********************************************

I.e. this particular boilerplate, the all caps “THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS MESSAGE IS UNDER NON-DISCLOSURE”, has appeared in some emails from ADC for years, and continues to appear in some emails that are completely unrelated to the iPhone.

My conclusion is that as fucked up as this entire situation is, both with the App Store rejections for “duplication of functionality” and NDA frustrations, it does not seem as though Apple has changed its policy regarding whether rejection notices are confidential.

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