A user is asking for a share of profit after suggesting a feature


3

I developed an app and after it's been 1.5 years on the stores, a user wrote an email with a suggestion for a feature. I replied that "yes, thanks for your suggestion, it's cool and I'll implement it in one of the next updates". I added the feature to my TODO list.

Today I got another email from him saying that since the feature is so cool he wants to have a % of the app's profits for his cool suggestion. I don't earn much from the app, and I'm in Russia where that user won't reach me in case of a lawsuit anyway. Still, I replied to him with the following letter:

Hi, I don't earn much on this app anyway.
Still, to avoid any complications I won't implement your idea for legal reasons.
You can sue me or something if I still implement it some time later, but I swear I won't do it.


Sorry, that's common practice in IT industry, from what I know, but I see this for the first time myself (when an app user requests a share of profit after suggesting a feature).


I hope this sounds fair to you,

Now I surely don't want to implement that feature.

I think it's completely unfair to ask a % of a profit after submitting a feature request. It costs money and time on my side to implement the feature while I also bare all the risks, and some user hasn't spent any effort or money. Also, the app was successful already before the feature, so a minor feature addition won't bring any significant increase in downloads anyway. So, there is no % to discuss here.

Was my response correct? Was I too harsh? Can there be any complications from this email of mine? Was I maybe too defensive? Should I have just ignored his email?

What do large companies with big products do? Say, if thousands of such people would send such emails to Microsoft about MS Office, Microsoft would quickly run out of features that it could implement without legal complications.

The worst thing he can do now is to write a bogus negative 1-star review but I don't care much for that because there are lots of other (good and bad) reviews.

This all seems obvious, but I just wanted to make sure there are no non-obvious legal caveats here just to be more educated for similar situations in the future.

Features Customer Support Users Profit Sharing Tech Support

asked Nov 21 '13 at 17:07
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Iseeall
118 points
  • Your email response is pretty terrible, but there are no legal implications from it no matter what you do with this person's suggestion. – Ekoostik Martin 6 years ago
  • Your response probably didn't win you a new friend, but I think it's very understandable that you were spooked a little by this totally ridiculous demand. Those kinds of suggestions are always given free of charge. The reward that they can hope for is a better product, for them and for everyone. I think a free upgrade as reward for a particularly valuable suggestion is a great gesture that should make everyone happy. And you have every right to produce a feature that he tossed your way. My only concern would be the statements you made about not implementing it. – Mark 6 years ago
  • Thanks, yes the initial response was terrible indeed, I wrote it while being shocked and angered myself because I met this for the first time. At least it was very educational. Thanks! – Iseeall 6 years ago

2 Answers


2

Your response certainly angered him as you won't be implementing his feature and you won't give him anything in return - you should have done both !

If the feature is great, implement it, and if you implement it give him something, like free updates and credits.

Asking for a percentage on sales is of course out of place, and unless he managed to patent or copyright that feature before he submitted it to you, there are zero legal consequences.

Big companies certainly aren't as flexible as small/individual companies when it comes to adding requested features.

answered Nov 21 '13 at 17:22
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User2534
154 points
  • Thanks. I've sent to him another email offering a free copy of the Pro version of the app (which shows no ads). It's worth only $1 so this isn't much. – Iseeall 6 years ago
  • This is a terrible advice. You're lucky that you're most likely out of reach for this person to sue you but if you were, you just gave him ammunition he could use in a lawsuit. See what Apple tells people: http://www.apple.com/legal/intellectual-property/policies/ideas.html. You should have just sent him that link and say "we do the same thing as Apple" – Krzysztof Kowalczyk 6 years ago
  • No it's not a terrible advice. Ideas have no rights attached to them unless they are copyrighted/trademarked/patented. That doesn't dispense the company from having specific terms regarding product feedback. If someone sent a picture of his idea, that picture would automatically be protected by copyright, and if the implemented feature looked just like on the picture... – User2534 6 years ago

1

Don't worry - there is almost no chance that he could do something against you.
On your place, I would even implement it, without bad conscience.
In the majority of cases, the ideas itself are useless - until someone realizes them. He could already be happy that YOU implement a nice feature HE WOULD LIKE TO HAVE. Now, he can be angry only against himself, because at the end, he will not have the possibility to use this feature.

I am very hard, I know - but his approach is frankly blameworthy. He could say directly: "If you agree to share you revenues, I have a nice feature that will boost your sales. " Than OK. But telling first: "It woud be nice you inlude this feature to your program. " and then come later begging for % of the benefit is really not serious...

So don't worry, don't excuse yourself. This kind of blackmailing doesn't deserves your time...

answered Nov 23 '13 at 00:08
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Data Smarter
1,274 points
  • Thanks :) In fact, the feature is rather simple and isn't anything special. I'm sure some other user would suggest it sooner or later. It won't add much to the app's worth either so I was not really willing to implement it in the first place but still decided that out of courtesy it's best to say "yeah, I'll add it in one of the next updates". But then coming and asking for money is just insane. But well, one also has to learn to handle such cases gracefully and never lose control of emotions, that's the lesson. And I fully agree with you on other points :) – Iseeall 6 years ago

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