I am using an open source app for MacOS. This app is also distributed through the Apple App Store. This app is meant to replace some built in OS functionality.

It recently came to my attention that this app, rather than provide it's own icons, references icons that are provided with the OS. Keep in mind that the app doesn't redistribute the Apple icons, it just references their location.

Is this a violation of Apple intellectual property rights? Does it violate any Apple developer agreement that would have been required to publish to the app store?

2 Answers 2


It is most likely that the legitimate owner of the device has the right to see all the icons that are present in the operating system, and therefore the use of the application isn't infringing anyone's copyright. And the application itself doesn't contain the icons, so it doesn't infringe anyone's copyright either.

There are actually plenty of cases where Apple advises developers to use icons that are part of the operating system; for example this means that the looks of the icon changes correctly if a user switches to a newer OS version which is what Apple wants. So without more information, you have very little reason to suspect the developer of any wrongdoing.

  • This is the most correct, however if you could give examples of "plenty of cases" I will mark it as the correct answer. Also I found this after asking the question. I think that since ''the application itself doesn't contain the icons, so it doesn't infringe anyone's copyright either." is what makes this the correct answer. Specifically if you look in the 'Unauthorized Use of Apple Trademarks' section.
    – nbppp2
    Oct 11, 2016 at 14:03

I haven't checked but such icons are generally licensed for use in an apple OS app.

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