Did Leica take the idea for the new T camera interface from AppCam?



Few days ago I received an email from AppCam where the founder Jürgen Habenstein claims that he presented the AppCam OS to Leica Camera, but the company was not interested in implementing their touchscreen OS solution (which at that stage I believe is just a prototype). Two years later, Leica announced their T mirrorless camera with a similar touchscreen interface. What do you guys think, does AppCam have a case here? Here is the full text of the email:

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 skeptical 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.


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  • Not sure about this case, but just had a concept stolen by a big company. Nothing I can do. To the creator of this: get over it and concentrate your energy on new projects.

  • Carlos

    Clearly, what is shown above on Letter and pictures is in sync and a clear evidence, that someone offers a touch-interface with less contemporanean quality than Leica has implemented, both still on their path to mimic Apple or Google not exactly but in basic UI elements.
    This is already common market technology, nothing to be discussed about and if yes, than maybe apple or prior inventors to sue both, making no sense anymore.

    This fag is just trying to cash in and testing the market for it.

  • Carlos

    it looks like somebody showing an electric Renault Laguna with a mounted Blackberry Playbook to Tesla in 2007 and now complaining that they stole an electric car S model Idea from him.
    German greedyness…

    • regular

      What you wrote is just as stupid as “jewish greedyness” or “latin laziness”.

      • Carlos

        I agree. But I am right. 😉

        • C.

          Not really, you are not right, because 1) they did not ask for money 2) Leica is German as well 3) it sounds very racist

  • NoMeJodas

    “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”

    And with a closer look to the system of the AppCam showed in the video I must also notice that it has a surprising resemblance to the Android system, which in turn has a surprising resemblance to iOS, which by itself has a surprising resemblance to Palm OS. So what’s the point exactly?

  • tim

    There seems to be two ideas; first is Icon Location with operational link to a dedicated physical dial (1:1 mapping Icon to Dial); second is method for configuring said Icons. First of those is not used by Leica T, second is direct copy from iPhone. IIRC they had another idea, not presented here, that was a bit closer to what Leica is doing with regard to selecting Apps/Icons for the “Home” screen.

    Pissing into the wind if you ask me.

  • Pantechnicon

    I’m wondering if anyone had heard of AppCam before this? Or whether anyone will remember them tomorrow?

  • Neopulse

    I honestly… don’t think it’s similar enough to go to court for. I understand the Nikon 1 and Sakar lawsuit fir example, but then again people do take inspiration from things around them to create things.

  • Typo in headline. Mixed tenses.

  • fjfjjj


  • deepo

    Actually I think that the Leica T concept was stolen from “Le Loup” (the wolf) – a french comic for children. No, I rephrase: it is clear that Leica stole the Leica T design from them.

    • Carlos

      I disagree, it clearly shows not the T, but the Leica M. As I know Le loup’s birthdate is well before the 1900, I must admit, AUZOU has all the rights to sue Leica for taking their timeless design.

  • Les

    There’s only so many ways to place icons on a screen. Unless AppCam has something truly unique going on behind the screen, as it were, they don’t have a case.
    Going back almost 30 years, Lotus sued Borland over their spreadsheet interface and lost. You can not copyright “look and feel” (at least in the US).

  • C.

    This is what I thought as soon as I saw the new Leica interface. Leica interface looks very much like AppCam whilst I do not think that AppCam OS looks at all like Android. Also, Android has little resemblance with iOS.

  • BK

    Actually this is a quite simple thing:
    If AppCam did show their interface under an NDA or differently named agreement, Leica may be in trouble. If they showed them the AppCam without anything, then it’s done for AppCam.
    All in all, not a nice thing.

    • guest

      If AppCam can get this to a jury, and the jury is ignorant enough, they could win. See the Apple v. Microsoft trial; I believe no one on the jury even owned a computer, and they were being asked to tease out very subtle visual concepts used in computers. All bets are off in these kinds of things.

  • Nick

    Didn’t this AppCam copy the iOS/iPhone interface?

  • manufacturer2

    If you think its a copy of yours, sue.
    If not, or you can’t, then stfu.
    Simple as that.

  • Michael Brenner

    It’s always disappointing one’s work turned down, and seeing a design being used that is similar to one’s work can be especially frustrating. But, there are significant differences between Leica’s design and the submitted design, and, in my eyes at least, Leica’s design is superior and does not appear to have been taken from AppCam.

  • DouglasGottlieb

    These UIs seem very different to me. Six physical dials? Really?

  • Romain Guy

    Funny that they would accuse Leica of stealing since AppCam is using one of my photos without attribution… See the first image in this article (taken from AppCam’s website) and my original photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/romainguy/8414791929/in/set-72057594062844128

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