After Suing Apple, BlueMail Calls on Other Developers 'Kicked Out' of App Store to Join the Fight [Updated]

Back in October, the developers behind email app BlueMail sued Apple, alleging that the "Hide My Email" feature of "Sign in with Apple" infringes on its patented technology. The complaint [PDF] also accuses Apple of anticompetitive behavior, including removing BlueMail from the Mac App Store.


"Hide My Email" hides a user's personal email address by substituting it with a unique, random email address when setting up an account in an app or on a website that supports "Sign in with Apple."

Apple explains how the feature works in a support document:

A unique, random email address is created, so your personal email address isn't shared with the app or website developer during the account setup and sign in process. This address is unique to you and the developer and follows this format: @privaterelay.appleid.com

For example, if j.appleseed@icloud.com is your Apple ID, your unique, random email address for a given app might look like dpdcnf87nu@privaterelay.appleid.com.

Any messages sent to this address by the app or website developer are automatically forwarded to your personal email address by our private email relay service. You can read and respond directly to these emails and still keep your personal address private.

After writing a public letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, BlueMail co-founders Ben Volach and Dan Volach said that they were contacted by Apple within a few hours, but they claim that the correspondence was merely a delay tactic.

We were overjoyed when we heard back from Apple within the day – within just a few hours in fact. It seemed to share our desire for a mutual solution and we worked quickly to meet its requests, but these too were just tactics meant to delay us.

Rerouted to teams that didn’t respond for weeks, told outright that our app doesn't run on macOS Catalina when we can prove it does, and given contradictory guidance from different teams within Apple, we found ourselves back at square one. Perhaps even worse than square one, because Apple’s legal team saw our willingness to work together as weakness and strengthened its stance against us.

Now, the Volach brothers have penned an open letter to the developer community, encouraging any developers who feel that Apple has kicked them out of the App Store or otherwise treated them unfairly to reach out to BlueMail and share their stories.

If any of that sounds familiar to you, if Apple has kicked you out of its App Store, used its developer guidelines to control your innovation, hijacked your store ranking, or (let's be honest with each other) lied to you while it steals your technology, it's time to talk. Even if you're not sure you want to go through with it (because we know how scary it can be), tell us your story. We won't share anything about you without your consent.

A lot of attention was placed on the congressional hearings in Colorado on January 17, but there are many who don't have the standing of Sonos or Tile. Together, we will have a voice.

We want to be back on the App Store, but we also want fairness. For us. For you. For all developers. Take a stand with us and email fair@bluemail.me with your experience.

BlueMail was removed from the Mac App Store in June 2019, the same month that Apple introduced "Sign in with Apple." In a nutshell, Apple found the app to be violating several App Store Review Guidelines, but the Volach brothers disagree and are now looking for other developers similarly situated to bolster their case.

BlueMail remains available on other platforms, including iOS and Android.

Update — Feb 11, 2020: BlueMail has returned to the Mac App Store. In a press release, BlueMail parent company Blix said it has no intention of dropping its legal case against Apple, which it says extends beyond the removal of BlueMail on the Mac App Store to the "suppression of its iOS app and the infringement of Blix's patented technology through 'Sign in with Apple.'"

"We're happy that users can once again get BlueMail through the Mac App Store, but we know this isn't the end. Our experience has shown that until the app review process includes effective checks and balances, Apple holds too much power over small developers." said Ben Volach, co-founder at Blix. "One solution could be to include external independent members and observers in Apple's App Review Board, just as a public company's Board of Directors represents its shareholders."

"When we wrote to Tim Cook in November, we heard back in hours. When we wrote to Apple's developer community, BlueMail was back on the App Store within a week," said Dan Volach, co-founder at Blix. "If you're out there too scared to come forward, let this be your proof that speaking out works. To Apple, we want to reiterate that all we want for developers is an opportunity to be treated fairly."

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
I was creating forwarding addresses to hide my email from spammers twenty years ago. it's nothing new.

So tired of patent trolls.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago


I was creating forwarding addresses to hide my email from spammers twenty years ago. it's nothing new.

20 years ago you weren't automating the process for the average consumer though. You certainly didn't patent it. They did and they did. Do they have a legit case? IDK. I do know what you wrote isn't really an effective counter to their claims.


So tired of patent trolls.

Patent troll? Do you know what that term means? Whether they have a valid case or not they certainly don't fit the description of a patent troll.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
Yawn. The use of private APIs is clearly prohibited. They knew that, they ignored it, and the app was pulled.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago
I've yet to see the option to "Sign in with Apple".
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago


20 years ago you weren't automating the process for the average consumer though. You certainly didn't patent it. They did and they did. Do they have a legit case? IDK. I do know what you wrote isn't really an effective counter to their claims.

Patent troll? Do you know what that term means? Whether they have a valid case or not they certainly don't fit the description of a patent troll.

it's called prior art

lots of cools stuff done in the 90's that's largely forgotten now and some people think they created something new
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
22 weeks ago


20 years ago you weren't automating the process for the average consumer though.

What automation are you talking about? Generating a random string? Nothing patentable there - personal mail servers and email forwarding services with various naming schemes have been around for a long time.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Hands On With iPhone 12 Models Showing New Sizes and Design

Monday July 6, 2020 2:04 pm PDT by
Ahead of the launch of new iPhones we often see dummy models created based on leaked schematics and specifications, with those models designed to let case makers create cases for the new devices ahead of their release. We got our hands on a set of dummy models that represent the iPhone 12 lineup, giving us our first close look at the iPhone 4-style design and the different size options. Subscri ...

Everything New in iOS 14 Beta 2: New Calendar Icon, Files Widget and More

Tuesday July 7, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
Apple today released the second beta of iOS 14 to developers for testing purposes, tweaking and refining some of the features that are coming in the update. Below, we've rounded up all of the changes that we found in the second beta. - Calendar icon - There's a new Calendar app icon in iOS 14 beta 2, with the day of the week abbreviated rather than spelled out. - Clock icon - The clock...

iPhone 12 Sizes Compared with iPhone SE, 7, 8, SE 2, X, 11, 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max [Update]

Tuesday July 7, 2020 6:49 pm PDT by
Apple is planning on launching the iPhone 12 this fall which is rumored to be coming in 3 different sizes: 5.4", 6.1" and 6.7". The middle size (6.1") matches up with the currently shipping iPhone 11, but the other two sizes will be entirely new. Over the weekend, there was some excitement about how well the new 5.4" iPhone 12 compares to the original iPhone SE. Those who have been hoping...

Tom Hanks Discusses 'Heartbreaking' Shift of WWII Film Greyhound From Theatrical Blockbuster to Apple TV+ Exclusive

Monday July 6, 2020 7:53 am PDT by
Tom Hanks' WWII drama "Greyhound" is set to premiere on Apple TV+ this Friday, July 10, and ahead of that debut the actor gave an interview with The Guardian discussing the film. "Greyhound" was originally planned to see a theatrical release this summer, and was repeatedly delayed in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Apple won the streaming rights to the film, and in the new...

Developer's Visual Comparison of macOS Catalina and Big Sur Offers Closer Look at Apple's UI Redesign for Macs

Tuesday July 7, 2020 4:00 am PDT by
macOS 11 Big Sur is the next major release of Apple's operating system for Mac, and following its preview at WWDC, one of the biggest discussions has revolved around the all-new user interface redesign. Developers are still learning what the impact the new UI will have on their apps, and with that in mind, app designer Andrew Denty has compiled an extensive visual comparison of the user...

5.4-Inch iPhone 12 Model Size Compared to Original iPhone SE and iPhone 7

Saturday July 4, 2020 9:44 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 dummy models based on leaked schematics have been starting to circulate online and in online marketplaces. Not happy with the circulating size comparisons between the rumored 5.4" iPhone 12 and the original iPhone SE models, MacRumors forum user iZac took matters into his own hands and purchased his own 5.4" dummy model to provide more detailed size comparisons between the original...

Shipping Estimates for 27-Inch iMac Continue to Slip, Now Into September

Monday July 6, 2020 6:55 am PDT by
Amid rumors and hints of a forthcoming update for the iMac, supplies of Apple's current 27-inch iMac continue to dwindle with mid- and high-end stock configurations now seeing shipping estimates pushed back into September. The 27-inch iMac has seen tight supplies and extended shipping estimates for months now, but the situation has been gradually worsening to the point where new buyers can...

Apple Cuts iPhone Trade-In Values as iPhone 12 Launch Nears

Tuesday July 7, 2020 7:46 am PDT by
With just two months to go until the usual timeframe for Apple's iPhone launch events, Apple is cutting back on maximum trade-in values of previous-generation iPhones for those looking to upgrade to a new model. Maximum values on more recent models have dropped by $30–$50, while older models have generally dropped by $5–$20 with a few models seeing no change in value.iPhone XS Max: $500 to...

Analyst Believes iPhone 12 Pricing Will Start $50 Higher Even Without EarPods or Charger in Box

Wednesday July 8, 2020 9:35 am PDT by
Despite multiple reports indicating that Apple will not include EarPods or a wall charger with iPhone 12 models this year, one analyst believes that pricing will still increase slightly compared to the iPhone 11 lineup. In a research note provided to MacRumors, analyst Jeff Pu forecasted that iPhone 12 pricing will start at $749 for a new 5.4-inch model, an increase of $50 over the base...

14-Inch MacBook Pro With Mini-LED Display Expected to Enter Production in 2021

Wednesday July 8, 2020 7:51 am PDT by
Apple suppliers will begin competing to win manufacturing orders for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED displays in the first quarter of 2021, according to Taiwanese research firm TrendForce. Rumors of a 14-inch MacBook Pro have surfaced since Apple replaced the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a new 16-inch model last year. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has previously said that...