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HTC Responds to Criticism Over Takedown of HTCRUU.com

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Last week, the dev community threw a bit of a fit over the takedown request that lawyers of HTC enforced on HTCRUU.com, a site that posted up leaked or unreleased RUU firmware for HTC’s devices. Some questioned the need to do this move now after having supported the ROM and RUU scene for so long, while others were nothing short of angry.

The request pointed out the fact that HTCRUU.com was using HTC’s name, logo, and trademarks without a license from HTC, which makes sense. But also, the request asked that HTCRUU.com remove all ROMs and firmware, as HTC does not allow third party distribution of its ROMs. The uproar over this situation was enough to get HTC to respond. 

Here is the statement they just released on the subject:

Last week, there was some buzz about a website that contained RUUs for HTC devices being taken down at the request of HTC. We’d like to take a minute to provide some background.

The issue with the site in question was NOT that it provided custom ROMs or RUUs. The site used HTC trademarks without a license from HTC. The domain name contained ‘HTC’ and it used HTC logos, making it appear to be an official HTC website. Like any other company, we must protect our trademarks and brand. We cannot risk being associated with, and held liable for, software that we don’t have any control over that’s put onto an HTC device through a third party.

HTC openly embraces the community that chooses to flash custom ROMs onto their devices. The HTC Unlock Bootloader tool on htcdev.com evidences this support. We think the custom ROM community is valuable to the overall health of the Android ecosystem, and we have no intention of abandoning them. We love the passion of this community, and we hope you continue to build with us, use HTC products, and give us honest and direct feedback.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m taking the side of HTC on this, but come on, folks. If someone was distributing your company’s property without your consent, while using your name, wouldn’t  you be a little concerned? Their points make sense, and I know that many people have been asking, “Well, why now?” That we aren’t sure of. It could be an order handed down from the top because a VP was having a bad day for all we know. Bottom line, this shouldn’t surprise anyone that a company wasn’t impressed by a 3rd party distributing their work. It sucks, yes, but it’s not surprising.

To read the entire backstory, hit up this reddit thread.

Via:  HTC

  • Kheir Francis

    Unlike other cases like Samsung and Apple, this case had merit, and it was justified. But I do like that fact that they embrace people developing roms an such.

  • DRaY

    And HTC is wondering why they are falling so far behind!! I recently bought a Galaxy S3 and now Samsung phones are my second suggestion after Nexus for anyone who wants to buy an Android phone. WHy? because even if you can’t get your updates on time you can always go to Sammobile or use other ways to find the latest internation version and flash it yourself!! Easy.. I have owned LG, and HTC devices which were a pain in the but to unlock and flash… and now HTC doing this to a site that was making it easy for people to download the firmware? It makes no sense!! If people can easily get firmaware, custom or stock, and flash it easily the more they would be inclinced to use you hardware, but since HTC doesnt understand this , I hope the fold … I will stick with my Shinny PLASTIC, 96gb, easily flashable, Wirelessly charging, Superphone until something better comes along.

  • MikeCiggy

    Easy move for HTCRUU, rename the website and have make yourself a cool little logo, continue distributing your roms. Good day sir.

  • blootz

    too late HTC. I sold my phone yesterday and got this Nexus, really happy about this decision, and I won’t ever buy another HTC product again.

  • Tony Byatt

    I understand HTC’s position, I have a less hostile position toward them now…

    • tonkotsu

      doesn’t explain the emails specifically asking them to remove the roms tho

      • Arimas Artadi

        actualy that’s explain it all, because roms thats they distribute is not custom roms. HTC won’t take the risk to allow 3rd party distributing their rom, because HTC doesn’t have the control over the distributed rom

  • Soofdawg

    I understand their reasoning, but then this begs the question why don’t other companies go after other sites that could pose the confusion HTC speaks of…such as:

    droid-life.com
    appleinsider.com

    If Droid-Life is distributing a flash rom, wouldn’t Verizon or Google have a similar claim as HTC then and say, hey, Droid is our trademark and people might confuse you as being official? An attorney could even argue that the logo in DroidLife is exact or similar to the trademarked version used offically by Verizon/Google. My point is that one could argue that the public is well aware that when they are visiting sites like this or others, they understand in what context the ‘brand’ name is being used within the domain. Unless the htcruu.com owners were blatantly trying to look like an official website and with content/wording to give that impression to the general public, I don’t see what the harm it was causing. If anything, this is just bad PR and gave a platform to the owners of HTCRUU.com.

    • blootz

      +10000 down with htc for this nonsense

    • Arimas Artadi

      does droid-life.com or appleinsider.com distributing official roms? not just post a link to official site, but hosting the file

  • Harold Goldner

    As demonstrated to great effect in Cloud Atlas (in “An Orison of Sonmi-451″), when you fail to protect your brand name, you lose it, e.g. xerox, kleenex and any number of other similar examples. (And if you only saw the movie, you won’t catch the reference.)

  • dylan84

    I’m completely for this decision. They have to protect their trademarks and have every right to do what they did.

  • Butters619

    The should have put at the end:

    “TL;DR there are a lot of dumb people out there that think we control the site”

  • Joe Isaacson

    I would bitch about them never updating my Thunderbolt to ICS but I just ordered a Nexus 4 so they can stick an ICS where the sun don’t shine!!

  • coolsilver

    Oh unless you have a phone which they will never release the proper RIL BINARIES, not even source for phones. They do bare minimum releasing any software that is GPL.

    • Ram

      Sigh, the pain of having a Rezound! :
      There is virtually no community around it as far as I can see, and the Sense 3.6 excuse-for-Android-4.0 they released is glitchy and makes the phone feel nothing like what its specs say it should be.

      • nicotinic

        Google XDA Rezound… The community is pretty decent for the relative lack of popularity of the device. I have a Rezound.

  • darkl3ad3r

    I really hope they fall off the map completely. After the Thunderbolt debacle I have made a commitment with myself to never again buy an HTC product. I’ve also made it an objective in my life to strongly influence those I know to do the same.

    And now they do this. Are they just trying to dig their own grave or what?

  • Ram

    Poor execution. They should have worked with the HTCRUU owners to transition them to a non-HTC-branded website. It would have been free positive PR too!

    • LionStone

      Why should they have to hold their hands? They are getting positive PR, they stated they are behind the community and supports the flashing and such. HTCRUU mistakenly thought that HTC is weak enough that they could get away with this… wrong.

  • http://twitter.com/joseph_type joseph a barrientos

    I think its perfectly ok, there are plently of people that don’t know what they’re doing and may get confused that HTC is providing these ROMS,idk, pick a different name, lol

  • Shane Milton

    The problem here, I think, had nothing to do with ROM distribution. I think it had everything to do with this being a “fan site” but it not being obvious that it was a fan site, which could confuse people into thinking it was an official site (something that HTC understandably shouldn’t allow). If it contained *no* HTC logos and made it painfully clear that it was a fan site, then I think that’s all it would have needed to do in order to appease HTC.

    Not that this is a legal or even official answer (despite coming from an HTC employee – it’s obviously just a quickly-shared opinion), see this short Twitter exchange:

    Me: “Curious, if that site hadn’t used logos and made it *painfully obvious* it was a fan site, would the domain name have been okay?”
    Leigh (HTC): “hmm…a fine line i am not sure but it really would be smartest to avoid using our name”

    https://twitter.com/Jaxidian/status/296714884262023168
    https://twitter.com/jetleigh/status/296715335258750978

    • mustbepbs

      “The issue with the site in question was NOT that it provided custom ROMs or RUUs. The site used HTC trademarks without a license from HTC. The domain name contained ‘HTC’ and it used HTC logos, making it appear to be an official HTC website. Like any other company, we must protect our trademarks and brand. We cannot risk being associated with, and held liable for, software that we don’t have any control over that’s put onto an HTC device through a third party.”

      Thanks, Captain Obvious.

      :P

      • Shane Milton

        That said nothing about official ROMs and RUUs, just custom ones. And I posted that I think the domain was fine even though the announcement said otherwise.

        Please re-read…

        • mustbepbs

          I wasn’t even commenting on the custom ROMs part, just about the domain and logos, which WAS in the announcement.

          Besides, I was just joking around with you. Relax, brah.

  • Bobby Cornwell

    I respect HTC more after reading their statement. They gotta do what they gotta do to protect themselves as a company

  • brkshr

    It was a good move, but executed poorly. They should have given the site a set time to change everything that is trademarked & the site could have put a banner at the top stating that it is in no way affiliated with HTC, while making those changes. I get that HTC may be trying to protect itself, but I also suspect it’s bigger than just that.

    • Steven

      how do we know that didnt happen, and they simply refused?

      • brkshr

        Common sense…

        HTC: ‘Change your site or shut it down completely’
        HTCRUU: “Well I’m not changing my site…”

        Don’t think so…

        • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

          Most companies prefer to leave lawyers out of their dealings unless absolutely necessary. Having the site formally shut down is obviously going to be a final resort, simply due to the cost of it. That’s common *business* sense.

          • brkshr

            I agree with that. Which is why I believe they had ulterior motives as well (as I said in my OP), to go all out on this site. If it was just as they are claiming, I think lesser actions would have been taken. Yes, this is all speculation on everyone part here. This is just my opinion.

  • Jason Purp

    I’m not against their decision

  • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

    I think this is a good move on HTC’s part. It might make people mad, but they’re just doing what they have to do.

    • mustbepbs

      Agreed. Why put themselves in a vulnerable position with the website using trademarked logos and such? HTC won’t stop them from creating a new site without HTC in the URL or without the logos.

      • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

        I like how honest they seem on their stance with the openness of Android. Faith in major corporations restored, somewhat…

        • mustbepbs

          And all of a sudden: THUNDERBOLLLLLLLLT.

          Faith in HTC DESTROYYYYYED.

          • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

            Thunderbolt!?!?! Down with corporate America! Burn it all!!!!

          • darkl3ad3r

            As someone who had that piece of s*** for over a year and a half, I can ragingly agree that f*** HTC. There is nothing they could do short of the CEO coming to my house in person and apologizing for how crappy that phone was, to make me forgive and forget.

          • LionStone

            Wow man , I can see that neck vein popping from here! Really, its okay…

          • michael arazan

            If the posted the acronym of HTC as “Helping Technology Co-exist” on their home page as the name of the site they should be able to get around the HTC initials infringement by suggesting it stands for other things. Or maybe a name like “Handset Technology Cooperation”

          • LionStone

            Hah! Nice…or, Holy Toledo Comrade, we’re on your side :-)

        • zepfloyd

          HTC needs all the support they can get…

        • New_Guy

          I like that they saw the dev community important enough to address us personally. Not like Verizon who like to call us insignificant…

    • Butters619

      If you need an RUU you can easily head over to XDA and grab one

    • Larizard

      If it was Apple… imagine how swift the nerfbat woulda swing…