Need help: hit with spurious trademark claims

Discussion in 'iOS Programming' started by holmesf, Oct 7, 2011.

  1. holmesf, Oct 7, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2011

    holmesf macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2001

    One of my iOS games, Tournament Reversi, is being hit with a spurious trademark claim and I need advice on how to defend myself before the game is removed from sale in 5 days.

    The company making the claim, Ravensburger Digital GmbH, has filed spurious claims against thousands of developers, for example, any game developers using the term "memory" in their application name or description. It looks like they are doing the same thing now to Reversi game makers, of which there are dozens. It's especially ironic because we chose the name "Reversi" precisely because "Reversi" is not trademarked, while the name the game is more commonly known under, Othello, is trademarked by Pressman inc.

    A quick search of the US trademark office shows no record of anyone having a registered trademark for "REVERSI". So in the US at least I don't think their claims hold any water.

    Apple states that I have 5 days to provide written assurance that I do not infringe on their claims before my application is removed from sale.

    I am not a lawyer, nor can I afford a lawyer. How can I provide Apple with the evidence they need that I am not infringing on this trademark?

    Thanks for your help.

    Here is a link about how Ravensburger Digital GmbH used their lawyers to troll thousands of application developers in 2009:
  2. jiminaus macrumors 65816


    Dec 16, 2010
    IMNAL. I just read through the thread you posted, in which Jeff Miller (claimed copyright lawyer) confirmed my initial reactions. Copyright and patents are restricted to a jurisdiction. This company holds the copyright to Memory in Germany, so I think at most all they could do is force your app off the German app store.

    Although, Jeff Miller does go on to say that Hasbro owns the copyright to Memory in the USA. While you haven't received a C&D from Hasbro, Apple might still look for you to prove you're not infringing that copyright, even if it's not being contested right now.
  3. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    Per Wikipedia:
    In 1893, the well-known German games publisher Ravensburger started producing the game as one of its first titles.​

    In general, trademarks are specific to a jurisidiction. What may be untrademarked (and even untrademarkable) in one jurisdiction may well be trademarked in another. You can't say "not trademarked" unless you also qualify it with a jurisdiction. Without knowing a specific jurisdiction, you could easily be wrong, hence infringing in that jurisdiction.

    The question of "Reversi" being trademarked, and in what jurisdiction, seems orthogonal to the question of "Memory" being trademarked (and in what jurisdiction).

    The options I see:
    1. Change the name.
    2. Don't change the name, and withdraw it from sale in Germany (or wherever Ravensburger is claiming trademark status).
    3. Don't change the name, keep the game for sale everywhere, and retain competent legal counsel.
  4. larswik macrumors 68000

    Sep 8, 2006
    These things intrigue me and had a question about this without reading the thread fully. If the issues is about the word 'Memory' being used is that not a common every day word so it should not be able to be a trademark word?

    Memory is very common and was around before these people ever trademarked it?
  5. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
  6. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    You need legal advise from an attorney. It's part of the potential cost of doing business in the App store.

    Hopefully you can find cheap legal advice drafting tae standard letter to Apple that you infringe nothing, and saying that this might be a low legal risk legal maneuver. Or take your game off the German App store. But IANAL, so ignore me.
  7. holmesf thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Sep 30, 2001
    To my relief, the story has a happy ending. My game was removed from the German app store today, but only Germany -- not the entire world which is what the legal notice seemed to threaten. This is fair to me, because the company does have a trademark for "Reversi" in Germany, but they don't appear to elsewhere.
  8. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    Glad to hear that, don't trademarks have a time limit?
  9. chown33 macrumors 604

    Aug 9, 2009
    No. It remains a trademark as long as it remains in trade (commercial use). Or you could lose it by neglecting to defend it.
  10. mkandula macrumors newbie

    Nov 9, 2012
    need help plz!! hit by Ravensburger


    I got today hit with a mail from apple that my app is infringing with Ravensbuger "memory" rights.

    Our game is titled memory++ and was running since last 2 years.

    We have removed it from the German store following this post few months ago. But today the email from apple included the following countries were

    Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil,Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Equador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Latvia,Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.

    They are telling me to remove my app from all these countries or they will delete my app everywhere if I don't comply in 5 days !!!!

    Someone please help what I can do ??
  11. 1458279 Suspended


    May 1, 2010
    It looks like the OP did do a follow up, so we don't know what happened last year with his problem.

    It looks like you'll need to change the name. I'm not sure what value one name has over another, look at some of the names of other apps.

    Someone needs to stand up to these people, just like EA filed suit against Zynga. ... It was LONG overdue.

    I wonder if you took this to court, would it be in the US or Germany. My guess is that it would have to be filed where the sale took place. I think all Apple apps are sold thru Nevada.

    The reason I ask, I've sued people before for breach of contract, and several other things. It gets REAL expensive. I sue in pro per. Someone took my source code and copyrighted it in his name and didn't pay me. The results cost him $30K and he never got the project off the ground, it cost me near nothing but time.

    If we get 1000 people to file suit against them, all being people with no assets, file papers to have court cost waived, file 100 motions each... they'd have to answer 100,000 motions and show up in court almost non stop.

    Else, we can wait for them to attack the wrong company like Zynga and EA. If you pick a fight, don't pick a fight with someone as large as EA.
  12. ArtOfWarfare macrumors G3


    Nov 26, 2007
    Your name "memory++" is infringing on the trademark for the name "memory", which the company does hold in the context of games.

    Come up with an actual name for your game that no one else has trademarked, and if possible, trademark it yourself.

    (IANAL, but I have had a few lectures on patents and trademarks as part of my engineering degree. From my limited education on them, that's what I think the best course of action is.)
  13. firewood macrumors 604

    Jul 29, 2003
    Silicon Valley
    It may be a bluff; but you will need an lawyer experienced in International trademark law to evaluate this and call their bluff, if so desired.

    It might be cheaper to remove it from the stores in countries where they make their claim (or are bluffing about it).
  14. larswik macrumors 68000

    Sep 8, 2006
    I hate this about trademarks. People should not be able to take common day terms or words and trademark them. "Memory" Should be a common safe word anyone can use. Soon every word will be trademarked by patten trolls and nothing left to use.

    If someone has the exact term "Memory" for a game that should be safe. But if someone wanted to create "Memory Mind" that should be fair.

    There need to be better laws against this stuff world wide.

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