[UPDATE: We were tipped off to a press release from Medl, dating February 2012, announcing an NRA sanctioned app. The app was scheduled to be released in the Spring of 2012. For reasons unknown to IP Lasso the app was delayed until January 13th 2013. We still question the inconsistencies below, and are awaiting an update from the National Rifle Association]
Many national news organizations ran with a story this morning condemning an official NRA shooting game app suitable for children– released on the one month anniversary of the Newtown CT school shootings.
We decided to investigate further.
The app developer is Medl Mobile, a third party developer for hire. While it is possible that the NRA used Medl Mobile to create an app, there are several red flags here.
First, the app’s logo differs significantly from the logos of the first party NRA apps:
Second, notice how the developer never uses the phrase “National Rifle Association”. The only reference to the NRA is “Official NRA Licensed Product” within the description. It appears that the developer is being intentionally vague, a common tactic by knock-off developers to skirt legal issues and to make their app appear legitimate . From the app description:
Meet NRA: Practice Range – the NRA’s new mobile nerve center, delivering one-touch access to the NRA network of news, laws, facts, knowledge, safety tips, educational materials and online resources. […]
Official NRA Licensed Product.
The same tactic can be seen here on a knock-off LeBron James app, which uses the “official” terminology to attract downloads. Rogue app developers use terms like “licensed” and “official” in App Store descriptions to make their app appear to be legitimate. We deal with issues like these for our clients every day.
Finally, both parties have been radio silent on the issue. IP Lasso reached out to the NRA and Dan Schwartz from Medl Mobile, asking if the app was officially sanctioned by the National Rifle Association. Both declined to comment.
Counterfeit app developers have many motives:
- Generate revenue with fake paid apps;
- Serve paid advertising to the app
- Collect private information from users including address books, calendar appointments, GPS location, and web history
Or in this case, the developer may simply want to embarrass the organization.
Regardless of the motives, counterfeit apps are an enormous problem in the industry, even in Apple’s walled garden, and can cause severe damage to all parties involved. We will continue to blog about these issues and work with various coalitions and brand owners to bring some sanity to the appmosphere.