The Dreaded Cease-and-Desist Order [CYANOGATE ’09]


Folks all over the Androidosphere are freaking out about the cease and desist order Android modder extraordinaire Cyanogen reportedly received from Google.

It’s disappointing, but honestly, not terribly surprising. Let’s all step back, take a couple deep breaths, and count to ten. Feel a little better? Okay, now let’s look at what’s going on.

First, Google isn’t being evil. The C-and-D is about apps like Gmail and Maps, not Android itself. While Android is open, their core apps are not, and they have a legal obligation to protect their intellectual property. If they are aware of infringement and let it slide, they start to lose the right to protect it elsewhere.

And CyanogenMod isn’t necessarily dead. Yes, the website is down for now. Smart move, that, to show Google that he wants to be cooperative. Now he and Google can work something out. What might end up happening? This is speculative, but some possibilities are:

  • His ROMS won’t include those core apps, but there will be some place else to get them (perhaps for a small fee).
  • He’ll get hired by Google and work on Android for them
  • He’ll license the proprietary content and have to charge something for his ROMS
  • He’ll license the proprietary content and offer a free version (no proprietary content) and a “with Google” version for a fee.

Is it possible this will all end in tears? Sure. But let’s give both Google and Cyanogen the benefit of the doubt and see what happens.

What do you think about the whole hubbub? Freaking out? Wondering who or what “Cyanogen” is? Let us know in the comments.

Edit: Cyanogen says “the website is down because of the Slashdot effect.”

  • phecker

    I'm definitely waiting to see what happens. Hopefully there is an agreement that makes both parties happy.

  • AndrewE

    Thanks for a great explanation. Good luck Cyanogen, and keep it up.

  • pat

    if it really happens, it will be dead for android, atleast for me

  • what i don't understand is simple. If the core apps belong to google (and they do) and google has included them with the stock ROM (cupcake/ cbr43) why, then is it cyanogen is being hassled. When all he's done is MOD the roms that already had these apps anyways. He did not add them as a new feature. And he is not collecting any money for the use of them. Any donations he does accept, were for his work in optimizing a stock release of a ROM that is lacking at best. If anything google should shake his hand and thank him. I'm sure he saved many people from switching to another device. While android, is possibly the greatest mobile platform we have yet to see, it would not be, if not for the developers who constantly find ways to improve on all of the original shortcomings of the OS. Cyanogen being one of the best. I hope a resolution can be found, while i never came so close to get rid of my G1 the ability to change some of the things i dislike about the device and the firmware it runs, is a huge plus. and it keeps me using google services and Tmo. So as previously stated all devs deserve and thank you and a pat on the back for trying to make all of our lives easier and a little more fun.

  • Robert B

    Very interesting to see your big fat advertising ad box for Google at the end of the article. We know where your loyalties lie. Do you use his roms? Or, are you too scared to say in front of Googe the monemaker for you?

    • I wrote the piece, Robert, and can assure you I don't have the "loyalties" you're woried about. I'm running Cyanogenmod 4.0.4 on my G1 and love it. The first thing I did when I heard about this last night? I downloaded I'd been waiting for the next stable build, but wanted to grab the latest just in case there ain't no more… On the other hand, I have nothing against Google, either.

  • Great article, it seems that too many people have gone straight for the worst case scenario without thinking the practical legalities through. I think BleedTheSkyJD has a valid point, but I sure something can be worked out to the benefit of both parties.

    @Robert B – I post articles for and I run cyanogenmod v4.0.4 on both my G1 and MT3G.

  • BackInAction

    I'm sure this will get worked out. Frankly, it better. While I don't own an Android yet, from what I've read they are borderline crappy devices unless you root them and flash them with a custom ROM. Sort of sad, really. Probably a big reason why they aren't as popular as they should be.

    Sure you can jb an iPhone, but they work "just fine" for your everyday user without doing so. I'm not sure they same can be said for Android devices.

  • David

    I'm confused…do other custom ROMs not include the Google core apps? What are they claiming Cyanogen has done that other custom ROM developers haven't done? Or is this simply the first salvo in an effort to shut down all of the custom ROMs? If so, the biggest reason I have for backing Android has just evaporated.

  • boulderjams

    The website is down due to the slashdot effect.

  • Brahmson

    The app market does not include some of these google applications (i.e. Gmail, Google Talk) so if they are not distributed with the modified rom the user will end up with a significantly inferior phone, practically defeating the reason for an alternate rom (and google can close the few remaining workaroud to get these apps).

    So legal issues aside, it appears that Google is trying to control the market and the user experience in the very same way Apple does.

    This opens the door for for Apple to go back to the FCC and say that they are not controlling the iPhone market more than Google does the Android app market. Google may have been penny wise and pound foolish. They thought they shot Cyanogen, buy may have shot themselves in the foot.

  • NewbieGerry

    How does this affect the new Archos 5 Android and its use for google apps?????
    as I have one on order, the open source android is what won me.

    • The Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet, by all reports, does not include any of those apps in the first place.

  • travis

    Google should take the opposite stance as many of the carriers, and phone makers and totally embrace rooting. Would it be hard, sure. Would there be growing pains, of course. But imagine if the big G came out and supported rooted phones as an option. They would gain so many users, the Android Community would probably explode into outer space.

  • Jackson H

    >"First, Google isn’t being evil."

    I disagree with your assessment. CyanogenMod only works on the G1 and myTouch. Both are "Google experience" phones – i.e. anyone who runs cyanomod has ALREADY paid for Google's proprietary apps. Google wants to get paid twice for the same work, and that's evil.

  • Curt

    and they have a legal obligation to protect their intellectual property. If they are aware of infringement and let it slide, they start to lose elsewhere

    No no no no no! They must protect Trademarks or suffer genericide and loose the ability to defend their trademark, Google have _No_ legal obligation to persue copyright infringement. They can quite happily ignore infringement with no harm to their “IP”.
    Gods I hate the misuse of that bit of legal fiction

  • Question? How does this 'ruling' effect the other ROM Developers?
    Cyanogen is just one of many…. Will this shut them down also?

  • A S

    As I mentioned on the other post, we understand the legality of this issue. But this is not Googley behavior on Google's part. They should write-up some type of contract with Cyanogen and let him include these apps for free. That is the Googley way of doing things.

  • I am hoping for a mutual agreement between Google and Cyanogen. Lets see what happens. I think an agreement is worth it. And for a look at my portfolio of web sites you can go here chicago web site design Any feedback would be welcome.

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