I don't feel sorry for him, even if the software he created was good. If I made iTunes, and some guy came along and started using parts of it for something he made, even if it just adds on to my app (iTunes), I'd sue him, too.
There's absolutly no reason for him to breach Apple, Inc, trademarks and laws that he apparently (or not apparently) agreed to to begin with.
I'm not sure what happened with Watson, but my uninformed guess is that the developers rejected Apple's overtures. Apple has a long history of buying out shareware or commercial apps and incorporating it into it's products * , and paying a pretty decent price for it at that. I find it difficult to believe the Watson team wasn't told that Apple was willing to go it alone if necessary.
Let's not forget Bill bought DOS for a small 5-figure amount and made an empire out of it.
Since Apple lost the lawsuit against Windows (for copying parts of the GUI) I'm sure Apple knows more than anybody exactly what you can copy and what you can't.
As for iCommune, it's fairly obvious that Apple's legal liability would be significant had it failed to act when it determined that the program violated the license of the API.
* Like, say iTunes. Apple bought SoundJam MP from Cassady & Greene (April-May 2001), hired every develper on the SoundJam team, and used these resources to improve iTunes, in particular it's mp3 support. Cassady & Greene seem pretty satisfied with the whole thing, according to their own press releases.
Update: Apparently the violation of the license was fairly major; the SDK is only licensed to allow the integration of a hardware device to iTunes (such as an mp3 player) or to create visualizers that might be available through the Visuals menu in iTunes. Any other use was specifically prohibited.
Still, if you crave the now defunct software, you can still get the actual application from various mirror sites. Put those google fingers to work while it's still up somewhere.
Why would you sue somebody that is making your product better?
If they are making something that makes your product better, and makes (or helps) more people to use your product, then ive em a job!
Plus he was giving it away free right?
He's not making any money off your product
Hire them or rip them off ala Watson
Dropped by the icommune site ... looks like this plug-in was for internet sharing of music ... don't think Apple wants to be supporting music theft especially in the light of their 'don't steal music' campaign.
The unbelievably ironic thing is that Apple's own servers continue to host the .hqx file so if you want to d/l iCommune you can look here.
This tidbit is courtesy of the pbzone people and the link still works (as of a few minutes prior to this post).
Please note that icommune is not designed as a P2P mp3 browsing client like Kazaa or Gnutella or what have you. It simply allows the creation of servers to stream mp3s. You can't "search" for mp3s unless you know the name of the server where the files are hosted. Yes this can be used to expedite files transfers between computers but IMO the most likely application for the software (as it currently stands) is for uses like Rick has outlined above.