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Apple is facing a lawsuit for infringing on an existing Animoji trademark, reports The Recorder. Animoji is the name Apple chose for the 3D animated emoji-style characters that will be available on the iPhone X.

The lawsuit [PDF] was filed on Thursday by law firm Susman Godfrey LLP on behalf of Enrique Bonansea, a U.S. citizen living in Japan who owns a company called Emonster k.k. Bonansea says he came up with the name Animoji in 2014 and registered it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2015.

animoji-800x448.jpg

Since 2014, Bonansea has been using the Animoji name for a messaging app available in the iOS App Store. The lawsuit alleges Apple was aware of the Animoji app and attempted to purchase the Animoji trademark ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X.
This is a textbook case of willful, deliberate trademark infringement. With full awareness of Plaintiffs' ANIMOJI mark, Apple decided to take the name and pretend to the world that "Animoji" was original to Apple. Far from it. Apple knew that Plaintiffs have used the ANIMOJI mark to brand a messaging product available for download on Apple's own App Store.

Indeed, Apple offered to buy Plaintiffs' mark but was rebuffed. Instead of using the creativity on which Apple developed its worldwide reputation, Apple simply plucked the name from a developer on its own App Store. Apple could have changed its desired name prior to its announcement when it realized Plaintiffs already used ANIMOJI for their own product. Yet Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name for itself--regardless of the consequences.
Bonansea's Animoji app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, he says, and it continues to be available in the App Store. The app is designed to send animated texts to people.

In the summer of 2017, ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X, Bonansea was allegedly approached by companies with names like The Emoji Law Group LLC who attempted to purchase his Animoji trademark, and he believes these entities were working on behalf of Apple.

He opted not to sell, though he says he was threatened with a cancellation proceeding if he did not. On September 11, just prior to the debut of the iPhone X, Apple did indeed file a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Animoji trademark.

iphonexanimojifacialexpression2-800x376.jpg
Apple's Animoji​

Bonansea originally trademarked the name under a Washington corporation called "emonster, Inc," a company that is now defunct. Apple's petition to cancel argued that the "emonster Inc" company did not exist when the Animoji registration was initially filed, and Bonansea claims that it was a mistake the trademark was not filed under the name of his Japanese company, Emonster k.k. A cancellation proceeding for the trademark appears to still be pending.

The lawsuit suggests that Bonansea planned to release an updated Animoji app at the end of 2017, but had to rush to submit a new app "so that Apple did not further associate the Animoji mark in the public's minds with Apple." He claims this has caused suffering and "irreparable injury" as he has had to rush to market with an unfinished product. Bonansea is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent Apple from using the Animoji name along with damages and attorney fees.

Article Link: Apple Sued Over 'Animoji' Trademark
 

otech

macrumors member
Jul 9, 2012
39
111
Australia
Unlike most of these lawsuits, this one seems reasonable.

I am sure the trademark/IP owner in this case would be able to work out a reasonable settlement, likely already factored in by the legal team at Apple when they used it.

Apple would have done a search on the name before using it and did so fully aware of the owners rights to it.
 

AppleFan91

macrumors 68000
Sep 11, 2012
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Indy, US
What a mess and your think Qualcomm was the guilty one. If this gets out of hand, it could delay the X even longer if Apple has to pull the feature.
Not a chance. They’d rename it or at the very worst they’d pull it like messages in the cloud. There’s no way they’d halt the release of an entire device because an iMessage feature shares a name with another app. If anything they’ll throw $25 mil at the guy and make it up in seconds on 10/27 and his life is set.
 

mwd25

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2012
233
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Tempe
Oh jeez, every time I open my browser Im seeing another story about someone trying to cash in by suing Apple, except..........Apple seems to be wrong on this one. I guess they tried to do the right thing and buy name off the guy. So he didnt sell, ok. The solution isnt to just take the name anyway!!! Come on, Apple. Your better than this. Or at least you claim to be. Leave him with his name. Call it Emojimations, or a million other things you could come up with. Its just a dumb little feature. Dont lower yourself over this.
 

Macalway

macrumors 68040
Aug 7, 2013
3,981
2,553
This article is one sided. Apple probably knew what the score was, so nothing will come of this. You see this daily, with the same slant: Small guy vs E-Corp.
 
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Michaelgtrusa

macrumors 604
Oct 13, 2008
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Not a chance. They’d rename it or at the very worst they’d pull it like messages in the cloud. There’s no way they’d halt the release of an entire device because an iMessage feature shares a name with another app. If anything they’ll throw $25 mil at the guy and make it up in seconds on 10/27 and his life is set.
Since he didn't want to sell, he should make them pull it and still sue for money.
 

MacsRgr8

macrumors G3
Sep 8, 2002
8,294
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The Netherlands
I don't think that people understand the significance of this case. Even by conservative estimates, the human race will communicate exclusively by emojis by 2022. Whoever controls Animojis will control the world. #sadpanda
Sarcasm aside.... it is the solution to language differences.
 

ethanwa79

macrumors 6502
Sep 13, 2014
431
1,662
Apple needs to just pay the guy a ton of money in a settlement. Give him a cool $1 mil. He’ll be happy and set for life (if he uses it wisely) and it won’t even dent Apple’s legal budget. No one ever has to know. Problem solved.

Apple’s stupid for letting it get to this point publically. PR damage isn’t worth it Apple, you should know that by now.
 

shyam09

macrumors 68020
Oct 31, 2010
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I don't think that people understand the significance of this case. Even by conservative estimates, the human race will communicate exclusively by emojis by 2022. Whoever controls Animojis will control the world. #sadpanda
**** it, I'm in this game then.

I present to you. Gifs. The proper way to communicate. GifAnimoji TM.

giphy.gif
giphy.gif
giphy.gif


That translates to "don't force your kiss onto a monkey."

It's a complicated language now, but once you get the rules down, you'll be typing out gifanimojis faster than you can say:
giphy.gif
<animji or emoji>

I'm looking for partners. It will be $10 million for a 2% stake in my company.
 

mwd25

macrumors regular
Sep 24, 2012
233
320
Tempe
Since he didn't want to sell, he should make them pull it and still sue for money.

Your not getting it. His product and Apples are two completely different things. Apple is not infringing on what his product does. They only share the name in common. So if he demanded they "pull it" as you say, they could just change the name and would therefore be under no obligation to remove it. He MAY get some money, IF he could prove damages but they would never have to pull it
 

IJ Reilly

macrumors P6
Jul 16, 2002
17,909
1,496
Palookaville
Apple needs to just pay the guy a ton of money in a settlement. Give him a cool $1 mil. He’ll be happy and set for life (if he uses it wisely) and it won’t even dent Apple’s legal budget. No one ever has to know. Problem solved.

Apple’s stupid for letting it get to this point publically. PR damage isn’t worth it Apple, you should know that by now.
Apple probably knows that they have the upper hand on the legal issue or they would have chosen a different name, but as you say it won’t look good if they don’t settle with him before the product goes live.
 
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