Is there any issue if my service APIs are very similar to my competitors


We have a web service and offer APIs for customers to integrate and create other customizations. Since following ReSTful design, we found our design eventually are so much alike our competitors. If we use different verbs, it will make the API methods quite long and not intuitive. All the CRUD operations are almost same. Before we release the APIs, we'd like to make sure there's no issues for us using the exact same http API methods. Please kindly advise. Many thanks!

API Intellectual Property

asked May 5 '11 at 08:06
16 points

1 Answer


Something to bare in mind by it's very nature your API is going to be similar to your competitors. You are both writing your API in a RESTful way, you both are going to have similar functionality. Presumably their are some differences, and as you are not first to market you have the advantage of being able to see what is working and what does not for your competitor.

Also having a similar (though hopefully better) API to your competitors also will make life easier for the person integrating especially if they have to deal with both yours and your competitors API. The worst case scenario for you is if you decide to abandon or modify your RESTful design and create a confusing mess for developers, especially if the developers then turn to your competitor.

Use similarity to your advantage, emphasis the differences and learn from your competitors API to enhance your own. Follow common design methodology and you will be fine. Though I am not a lawyer though I do work with and design APIs for a living.

answered May 6 '11 at 02:54
Tim Nash
1,107 points
  • Just to add, it maybe worth looking at the various CRMs out there, most of the web based ones (worth any money) have a API and they all look more or less identical. That is because they have virtually the same functionality and a common industry naming pattern, as well as API design pattern. – Tim Nash 13 years ago
  • your inputs are highly useful for us to further consider our API guidelines. I do agree with you it's better for developers to deal with similar APIs in the same space of a industry. I personally as a developer hate to re-learn a totally different API paradigm if it's supposed to achieve similar functions. Thank you again for your insightful suggestions. – Steve 13 years ago

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