HipChat, a company that has a hosted private chat service for companies and teams, has taken offence to Apple’s new OS X Messages icon. Apparently Apple ripped it off. HipChat doesn’t come out and say it right away, but they’re calling shenanigans in a blog post titled, They may just be chat bubbles, but they’re our chat bubbles.

They aren’t exactly wrong, but they aren’t exactly right either.

Pete Curley, author of the HipChat post states:

[quote]As many of our users noticed, the new Messages logo looks a little…familiar… I don’t know how Apple came to this design. Do I think they copied us? Probably not (but as a designer, I’ll take the compliment). Regardless of how Apple arrived at this design, one of us has to change. It’s really confusing for our users, and they’re really all we care about.[/quote]

There’s more to the post, but in essence, he’s calling shenanigans without actually calling shenanigans, which is kind of sad.

Some, including Daniel Eran Dilger, went as far as suggesting that HipChat has shamelessly stolen Apple’s original iChat logo. Dilger states, in the comments of the HipChat post: “Perhaps you should also show Apple’s original iChat logo, which you simply reused as your own (with the same shape and color) after changing the direction of the “gloss” sheen and shadowing it with a flipped, black and white version. You ripped off iChat’s logo. Apple did not sue you. You did not create something original and protected.”

We’ll say this — Chat bubbles to illustrate, well, a chat application, isn’t something new. The AIM iOS app icon has a chat bubble. BeeJive IM has a chat bubble in its logo. I think you get the picture. Speaking of pictures, here’s some images of how the two icons measure up at this point.

Here’s the original iChat icon beside the HipChat icon:

Here’s the HipChat icon, beside the new Messages app for OS X icon:

Resized logos (iChat and HipChat), and overlaid:

Messages for OS X and Hipchat overlaid:

White chat bubbles overlaid:

We’ll let you make your own conclusions about the icons above. We should also point out that this wouldn’t be the first time Apple may have been inspired by some third party application design. Take a peek at the Delicious Library application, and then iOS’s iBooks design. They may have arrived at the iBooks design independently, but we should also mention that Apple awarded Delicious Monster Software design awards in both 2005 and 2007. Apple also hired one of the Delicious Monster co-founders. Take from that what you will.

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