When it launched on March 8, it won lavish praise from some of the web’s leading tech blogs, got 120,000 downloads in its first week and vaulted to the top of the free section of Apple’s App Store.

Zite, which bills itself as “a personalized iPad magazine that gets smarter as you use it,” collects and presents news from around the web in a streamlined reader-friendly format. It edits the content based on a user’s Twitter account, RSS feeds and feedback they provide as they read articles.

But it quickly got the attention of news organizations as well as users. On Wednesday, the Vancouver-based team behind Zite received a cease-and-desist letter co-signed by a list of heavyweights including The Associated Press, Dow Jones, Gannett Co., Inc., Getty Images, the National Geographic Society and Time Inc., claiming the app was “plainly unlawful” and “misappropriating” intellectual property.

Not surprisingly, publishers weren’t pleased that ads attached to their stories were being hidden from view, depriving the websites of advertising revenue.

Zite founder and CEO Ali Davar said he was expecting a lawyer’s letter and would comply with the order.

“We had a few publishers contact us by email initially so we thought they would have this kind of reaction,” he said.

Part of the appeal for publishers is that Zite helps readers discover content they would not otherwise have found themselves, he added.