Was pushed a page advertising a web-based application subscription for book writers called “LivingWriter”. An obvious copy of Scrivener. So I went googling for its origin. Very cloudy. Found through CrunchBase that LivingWriter was founded by Casey Kerbs, a person who is also and most often mentioned as a New York City MD nutritionist and diet advice blogger. After watching a few interviews of and by Casey, I am convinced that she had ZERO to do with the concept, design, development, launching, or management of this software or the company that sells it. Am I wrong? Was Scrivener the first writing software to present chapters in a binder directory and to link them into an editable string of text? The first to offer integrated cork board view for index cards planning and outlining? If so, how is it that so many companies are able to freely create and market knockoffs? Is there no way to protect Scrivener’s unique and proprietary intellectual property? Anyway, I am glad to be the owner of software the origins of which are transparently shared. Thank you.

Side Note: Casey Kerbs is the author of at least one book writing application on-line review, where Scrivener and LivingWriter are compared (along with many other packages), and where she assesses LivingWriter to be the top choice. No where in her product comparison does Ms. Kerbs mention the small fact that she is also the founder of LivingWriter (conflict of interest?).

I’m afraid it’s hard to maintain copyrights on Interaction or UI design. I don’t think L&L is willing to fight this.

You could report the shady book review to Amazon to have it removed…

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Yeah, maybe the ad is shady - But you can not deny the fact, that livingwriter has some well done features which skyrocket its value, and many, many Scrivener customers would wish to have it for them self.

Many features are equal or better than from Scrivener. Indeed, there are a few features lacking, but as a hobby-writer-user you choose livingwriter instead of Scrivener without any second thought at any time.

I am using Scrivener since years and the development circle is very slow and there is zero communication on which features they are working on or what the future even is. This behavior works in 2007, but not in 2022.

I will still use Scrivener for the next years, because I am blindly familiar with the most of the features - and have already invested my triple digit hours to get things done how I want.

But I always test out new writing software to look at what others are bringing to the table to increase my productivity.

Scrivener is a very solid tool, but the competition does not sleep. They see it, copy it and trying to make it better. And if Scrivener wants to keep their user base or want to even attract new customer, they need to recap their process, and not only change the version number from 1.9 to 3 to make it look like something very major is happening.

Livingwriter has a 14 days trial - Test for yourself to compare the features. To write about all pros and cons, would be an easy 20k word essay, just for the basic stuff.

In the end, it does not matter what tool you are using, you can publish your stuff with the inbuilt notepad from Windows or with the visual editor in linux, but having the right tools on your side can speed things tremendously up.

There are many writing-software out there, who are ultimately not on the same level as the “OG” Scrivener. But livingwriter is something you better not underestimate. It has the chance to be a real competitor soon.

Roughly speaking, the three main types of intellectual property protection are:

  1. Copyright. In writing terms, you and I can tell the same story – I just can’t choose the exact same (or mostly the same) words to tell the story that you did. In program terms, I can’t use significant parts of your source code without a license that allows me to do so – but I can independently recreate equivalent code. Copyright is immediate and does not require registration, and you are not required to defend every instance of your copyright behind violated or risk losing copyright. Hence why many rightsholders only go after violators that are making money – they actually have a higher chance of having assets to pay damages with.

  2. Trademark. You can’t make a mouse character that looks markedly similar to a certain famous mouse and name your mouse the same – those aspects are covered under trademark. Trademarks must be registered, may not be granted (or may be revoked) if there is prior art that materially influenced your design, and are generally restricted in scope (hence the whole beef between Apple Music and Apple Computers when the latter slid into the music industry.) In programming, generally tends to affecting branding more than anything else. You can’t call your operating system Windows™ but it can open windows all day long. If you are aware of someone using your trademarks, you are legally obligated to enforce them or risk abandoning them/losing them.

  3. Patent – a process or method of performing a task. Public-key/private-key encryption (which forms the basis of a significant chunk of modern encryption on the Internet) was originally patented and only RSA – the company formed by the three computers scientists who created it – could use it until the patent expired. Has to be filed (which is stupid expensive), last for a set period of time, and generally requires legal defense.

None of these stop people from duplicating the general ideas and flow of a computer program, any more than they stop people from writing books that use the same formula as another. And arguably, there are legal reasons why this is a good thing. Would you want your only choice of word processor to be Word?

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To provide some balance to the ad by Username5445…

I can’t compare features as I’ve never used LW, but from a very quick look at their webpage I noticed the following things that would be complete deal breakers for me…
You can only access your writing on LW if you have an internet connection

Your access to data looks to be dependent on LW remaining solvent

Plus, of course Scriv is a one-off payment of £47. LW is $10 a month forever!


Your explanation is one of the steady slippage of IP protection and is mostly the result of IP lawyers making tons of money protecting “the rights” of those doing the infringement. Which of course has resulted in “legal precedence”, in our court system. Slimy to say the least. Its a system that protects profiteers and corporate grifters, and not IP, and not the value of the innovators. Its what has lead to a tech market of creeping incrementalism and monolithic markets, and away from progress. In this legal environment, it is far easier to fight for a share of an established market than to create anything of an novel value. The loss of global potential is staggering. Lawyers choosing a focus market and area of expertise who are driven by income and wealth need look no further than information and medical tech IP. Big money. Big.

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Yup. I have made the same decision many times. Better to put my energy towards the future than to defend the past. But that shouldn’t be the position innovators are forced to adopt. I am questioning the legal system and the legislation that is wholly missing and has steadily gotten worse in tech for decades now.

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Anyone have any more information regarding the supposed founder of LivingWriter, this Casey Kerbs diet advice blogger person? Anyone know who or what group actually designed and coded LivingWriter? How that development started, who’s idea it was, what LivingWriter’s actual conception and development was like? How this Casey Kerbs ended up being involved and ended up being branded its “founder”? I smell a future Netflix documentary akin to “Inventing Anna” and or “The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley”.

You make a lot of assertions and no facts to back them up. And you still haven’t answered the question of how it is good for society for IP rights to be so strict that other people can’t produce similar works. Given how innovation is a mix of evolution and revolution, stifling evolution would seem to be self-defeating in the long term.

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@Randall_Lee_Reetz I’m not convinced that L&L originated the binder/browser metaphor. There are many apps that I think are older than Scrivener that use something similar, including Notational Velocity and Apple Notes. In fact, that interface may have been developed by Apple itself and made available to L&L via frameworks.

So I think your outrage may be misplaced.


Questions about the origins and design of other applications are best directed to the creators of those applications. Questions about the authenticity of online reviews are best directed to the site hosting the review.

Writers are an extremely diverse group, with a wide range of needs and preferences. We accept that not all writers will find that Scrivener suits their needs and wish them all success with whatever tools they choose.

The first Scrivener-like software for writers that I ever saw was yWriter for Windows, which dates all the way back to Windows 98.

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Had a look at their website and it very quickly rings alarm-bells for me:

Under the FAQ → “Your stories will be hosted by us forever, backed into Amazon Cloud”. Would that be ‘backed-up?’

Clicking on the Legal → Patents Pending link takes you to the pricing section.

Under terms and conditions → “LivingWriter LLC. has the right but not the obligation to monitor all Content provided by users.”

Yup, any data you store on their system is apparently held in plain-text; it must be if they can monitor it. Call me old-fashioned, but that’s like handing-over my house keys to a stranger - why would you do it?


Now that you mention it, the first time I saw Scrivener, it reminded me of Sophocles.

The website says it is also for non-fiction but I don’t see any support for citation management.

Their roadmap for the future. Scrivener has had them for years.

As other have said, being tied to the web, paying a month fee, and everything stored on the cloud is a major turn off.

Back in 1998 I wish I had something Scrivener like. I was working for a small newspaper and everything went through MS Word and Publisher. I had to have two computers my “Blueberry” iMac and a Pentium 2 laptop. (I guess I shouldn’t complain. Now, I have 6 Apple products and a Dell Laptop. Same problem, sort of, but better products!)

Right?!? I hardly use “iCloud” Storage except for iPhone and iPad backups. I bought a NAS and I have some USB back up drives to store everything on. I don’t let the NAS have internet access either. I am not paranoid but I don’t like that other people can see my stuff. Ai searching my photos found a snapshot I took of a chart from a class I was taking. The Ai found a seller with that chart as a keychain and I got the advertisement for weeks and so did some of my friends. They told me when I complained on F-Book about it. Needless to say I deny access to all things now and keep Google & F-Book only on my old intel MB-Air. Only "Native Software,"Scrivener and also Zoom & WebEx apps are on my Studio.
Okay, TMI - Just saying, I won’t use any software that requires me to store My information on their storage systems/servers.

The monthly $10.00 subs of LivingWriter is simply unattractive for a start. And who knows what goes on with an on-line application.
Most of it is at some vague - probably exaggerated - level of progress, miles behind Scrivener, at face value. You can’t even get an idea of what you’re buying into from their graphics.
And a 14-day vs Scrivener’s 30 non-consecutive days trial is lame.

I started using Scrivener in 2000-something after trying out Jer’s Novel Writer (which seems to have died around 2010) and also Ulysses (wonder what happened to them? :slight_smile: This was before they moved to markdown, so it must have been a very early version).

I can’t remember anything about JNW, except that it was highly recommended at the time, and an excellent program, though I preferred Scrivener in the end.

They are still around.

Recommended by David Hewson.
Wasn’t he the one who said on live TV that he couldn’t wait to get home to post positive reviews for his latest release?