The tech world is no stranger to pressure, legal or otherwise, but this moment in time feels a bit different from years past. Suddenly Big Tech finds itself under scrutiny from lawmakers and opinion-makers alike, as they grow so large and so powerful that the biggest among them recognize that the constraints on their power can hardly be said to exist at all, particularly given how their technology underlays the world we now live in. It's probably not surprising given those circumstances that these same companies might try to push against what laws do constrain them, but at least for the moment the law still seems to be working, at least as far as IP goes.
Apple is the subject of a patent infringement case regarding a newly-introduced feature. Blix is accusing Apple of infringing upon its patent with its new "Sign in with Apple" feature that enables communication without providing an email address, an idea that Blix says originates with its Blue Mail product. Blue Mail, unveiled in 2015, allows users to create random email addresses to communicate with other users without providing their actual email address, which is certainly useful in a time when we're all blitzed with dozens of mass emails a day (to say nothing of security concerns.)
Apple's new feature does much the same thing, allowing users to create a new, random email address to sign in to various sites and services and forwarding mail to those new addresses to your main account. There's the similar control and anonymity offered to users, with the added benefit of the ubiquity of Apple; hundreds of millions will get the feature without having to do anything more than simple own an Apple device, which they undoubtedly already do.
Indeed, Blix alleges that with the rollout of the new feature the popularity of Blue Mail was diminished within the app store, and the desktop version of their app for the Mac OS was hit with a letter for violating the Apple terms of service in its similarity with another app — one created by Blix and no longer offered in the App Store. But the ruling upheld and the app remove, prompting the suit.
Would it be the first time that a conglomerate moved aside a competitor to ease its way into unchallenged dominance, if the allegations are true? Hardly, and it probably wouldn't even be the only case that month. The history of business in America is one where anyone can build a company in a garage and have it become a powerhouse that then tries to squash any subsequent startups that might try to cut into its hold on the market.