Is Apple a “Trademark Bully”? iOS 13 Feature Triggers Suit

by: The Knowledge Group

October 09, 2019


Two different companies may not own the same trademark for the same thing. Don’t worry. Someone’s breaking the news to Apple.

Multiple companies may register a trademark on a word—but only in different industries. So, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office suspended Apple’s second attempt to register a trademark on Memoji, already held by another tech industry company, Atlanta-based Social Technologies LLC. Social Tech also claims trademark infringement against Apple for Memoji. The smaller company labels Apple a “trademark bully” for hijacking the concept.

What’s Memoji? It’s a fun little caricature whose features can be transformed to resemble the purchaser of the Apple device. And Apple’s website has put the ® symbol next to it, although Social Tech holds the U.S. registered trademark on Memoji.

“Extensive Advertising”

Apple has put Memoji characters to work as brand mascots, promoting everything from iPhones to Apple Music. Social Tech asserts that this extensive advertising constitutes dilution of trademark and unfair competition. It also flouts New York’s General Business Law, Social Tech claims.

Twice, Apple has applied for these trademarks under the very same International Classes approved for Social Tech. The smaller company is now wielding its second court action. It wants a court order to stop Apple’s use of, and claim to, the trademark. It wants monetary damages for Appel’s “improper and fraudulent use” of the circled R symbol for Memoji. It wants costs and attorney’s fees. And it wants the court’s declaration that it holds the trademark rights.

The latest lawsuit, Social Technologies Versus Apple – New York, was filed last month with the U.S. District Court for New York’s Southern District.

This, although Apple declares itself keen to enforce its own intellectual property interests “to the fullest extent of the law.”