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I would like to develop an Android App for Google Play and I am going to use Facebook and Whatsapp UI as background of the game (as a back-story). I will use icons without copyright to emulate/duplicate the style of Facebook and Whatsapp (they are not part of original drawable of the external app). I will inform the user about the objective of the game. I won't include any direct references to the emulated apps such as the title "Facebook" or "Messenger". The user is free to interpret what he is seeing. I will add the text

"any name and reference is fictitious".

However I have some great doubts:

  1. After the development, will I be able to upload the app on an app store such as Google Play?
  2. Is copying UI and layout of other external apps legal?
  3. Does it break any law or rule?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I suggest you visit this page to have your accounts merged; you'll be able to edit your own question and comment and accept the most appropriate answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Jan 15 '18 at 17:57
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Presently, here's what the Google Play Developer Policy Center states about impersonation:

We don’t allow apps that use another app or entity’s brand, title, logo, or name in a manner that may result in misleading users. Don’t try to imply an endorsement or relationship with another entity where none exists. Impersonation can occur even if there isn’t an intent to deceive, so please be careful when referencing any brands that do not belong to you. This applies even if that brand doesn’t yet have a presence on Google Play.

Thus, it depends on:

  • if they initially believe that you are misleading users
  • if the other entities (Facebook, etc) file a complaint
    • if Google sides with them
    • results on any legal proceedings that follow

As to breaking the law, if you copy someone else's artistic design, knowingly or otherwise, you may be at risk for copyright or patent infringement. If you need legal advice, consult with a legal expert. Generally speaking, bigger companies have more brand identity to risk & more resources to litigate.

I can't recall specific titles at the moment, but I have played games which feature simulated social network or chat clients. To the best of my knowledge all of them made some effort to display themselves as a parody.

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