Science

Apple Hit with Trademark Lawsuit Over Animoji Name

Apple Hit with Trademark Lawsuit Over Animoji Name”

Animoji, if you recall, is the name Apple gave to the iPhone X's animated emoji feature wherein the device's TrueDepth camera system tracks a user's facial expressions and applies them to an emoji in real-time.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday with the U.S. District Count for the Northern District of California, Enrique Bonansea - a U.S. citizen now residing in Japan - alleges that he registered for the "Animoji" name back in 2014 through his company "emonster k.k.", which is listed as a co-plaintiff in court documents, as first disclosed by The Recorder. According to Apple's filing, Bonasea's USA -based emonster Inc didn't exist when the original trademark was filed.

The iPhone X's Animoji feature, meanwhile, lets people transform their face into customized moving emoji, taking advantage of Apple's face recognition technology.

In court documents, Bonansea says he was approached by an Apple "front" over the summer, whose reps allegedly tried to pressure him into selling the Animoji name. What's more, Bonansea has had a messaging app in the App Store with the Animoji branding going all the way back to 2014. It's a fun little texting tool that uses the classic emoji smilies, but animates them to make them pop a bit more. It does, however, note that these companies started making offers before the iPhone X was announced, and that Apple has a history of using other companies to hide itself during these types of business negotiations. These can be combined with voice recordings before being sent by iMessage.

Emonster is seeking an unnamed amount of money in damages and a court order to immediately block Apple from continuing to use the name.

"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", the lawsuit reads. "Yet Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name for itself - regardless of the consequences". And that's exactly what they attempted to do the day before iPhone X was unveiled in September.

It's an embarrassment for Apple who should have had their legal team do a simple search on the USPTO trademark site like I did this morning which clearly shows the trademark was already owned by Emonster Inc. The suit points out, however, that the now dissolved "emonster Inc." and current Japanese corporation, "emonster k.k.", acted as a single commercial enterprise when the mark was first filed.



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