Apple has issued a cease and desist order against Mac Themes Project (MTP) for creating a theme editor.

Apple claims the editor enables third parties to copy its copyrighted trademark themes by "improperly copying Apple's copyrighted software code and graphic files".

In a letter to MTP, Apple has requested that the company ceases from distributing the editor on any Web site or server under its control "including any hyperlink to other locations where the material may be available". Apple also wants written confirmation to this effect.

Themes for Mac OS MTP's theme editor provides a resource for theme designers of Mac OS 8.5 and above. The company claims the theme editor is a "clearinghouse for distribution of themes developed with our tools".

Apple has accused MTP of infringing the Lanham Act that governs trademark law in the US. Apple said: "By allowing the public to access and download the editor, we believe that you are engaging in contributory infringement of Apple's copyrights, trademarks, and trade dress in violation of the Lanham Act."

It's possible for different parties to use the same trademark in certain instances. However, if Apple establishes a "wilful violation" by MTP, it will be entitled to recover profits and any damages.

Apple further accuses MTP of unauthorised reverse-engineering of its software, stating that the specifications for the Mac operating systems in question have never been released. Reverse engineering of the Mac OS violates the software license agreement undertaken upon purchase.

MTP has not responded to the charges against it.