AppCam Alleges Leica Stole UI for the T

The recently introduced Leica T which we all know by now, features a 16.5MP APS-C sensor, interchangeable lenses... And a very unique touchscreen interface. Or is it? Well, it seems the folks at AppCam have a serious problem with it. In a press release (seen below) they make allegations that Leica has stolen the interface for the Leica T from them. Supposedly these two companies have worked together in the past to some degree, which lends some credibility to the allegations. Turns out that Leica later declined to use AppCam's software. Yet here it is, the Leica T - with a startlingly similar interface.

Here’s the press release that AppCam sent out:

A short story about small inventors, large companies and the true whereabouts of Elvis Aaron Presley

Last week we had the great fortune to get one of the coveted copies of the new Leica T in our hands. After we had an extensive look at this beautiful camera, we would like to congratulate Leica on this really successful piece of technology. In particular, we were very impressed by the operating system of the Leica T.

But with a closer look at the new Leica operating system we must also notice that it has a surprising resemblance to the system of the AppCam. The only major difference is that the values ​​are set by tapping on the display on the Leica T, whereas by dials on the AppCam. The use of camera apps and their free configuration – like the apps on a smartphone – equates otherwise more or less exactly to our system.

We must admit that we were sceptical at first whether this similarity is really just random. In particular, because we have presented our AppCam system about two and a half years ago to the Product Manager of Leica, Stefan Daniel, at the former company location in Solms. He had even asked us at that time to provide him with a computer simulation of the AppCam for a few days for a more detailed test. But the cooperation failed. In the end, Mr. Daniel sent us a rejection letter because he saw no possibility of applying our invention to the products of Leica (see Appendix).

As we now inquired at Leica about the circumstances of this incredible accident, they taught us a very hard lesson quickly. The legal department of Leica told us very clearly that there must have been a kind of “parallel development” of our two companies, and that each publicly expressed doubt from AppCam about that will result in massive legal action and substantial claim for compensation by Leica.

Because such a hard crackdown would probably ruin our small company, we would like to announce at this point this two following immutable truths:

  1. The emergence of the operating system of the Leica T has nothing to do with our former presentation of the AppCam system. All similarities are completely coincidental.
  2. Elvis is still alive, somewhere out there …

But we are not resentful. We are really looking forward with the great success of the Leica T, because it contributes to make the benefits of camera apps known worldwide. And this is the right way to carry not only the imaging, but also the operation of the cameras into the digital age.

Camera apps are the future.

And that’s why we wish Leica – despite everything – lots of success.

Jürgen Habenstein
AppCam OS

Update (6/12/14):

Leica Camera has responded to the allegations put forth by AppCam:

With the Leica T, Leica Camera AG has launched a system camera featuring a, for cameras, innovative operating concept in conjunction with touchscreen control. The design, development and realisation of this operating concept began in spring 2010 in Leica’s own facilities and led, in March 2011, to the successful recognition of several protective rights applications submitted at this time by Leica Camera AG. These protective rights applications are based exclusively on developments conceived and realised within and by our company.

Any claims, allegations or insinuations that the Leica T operating concept is based on or derived from developments by other parties are totally without foundation.

The operating system developed by AppCam was presented to Leica Camera AG in November 2011, many months after the development of the Leica T-System operating concept and the corresponding protective rights applications from March 2011. One of the characteristic features of AppCam OS is the setting dials immediately adjacent to the application fields. The Leica T operating concept has no setting dials and differs significantly from the AppCam concept in numerous other ways.