Apple’s animoji feature allows users to animate the facial expressions of emoji’s using facial recognition technology which will be included on the iPhone X. Tokyo based Emonster KK sued Apple in federal court saying it holds the U.S trade mark on the term animoji and that Apples use of the term is “textbook case” of deliberate infringement. Emonster chief executive Enrique Bonasea launched an animated texting app in 2014 called Animoji and registered a trade mark for the product name, according to the lawsuit. Apple had full knowledge of the of Emonster’s app because the app is available for download on the Apple’s app store, the lawsuit said “Apple decided to take the name and pretend that the word ‘Animoji’ was original to Apple”. Emonster said that it is seeking unspecified money damages and a court blocking order blocking Apple from using the tem while the lawsuit is pending.
When establishing a new brand you should spend time carrying out searches before committing to it and before filing trade mark applications. Otherwise, you risk finding out about potentially conflicting trade mark registrations later on. If you file a trade mark that is similar to an existing trade mark, beware of the associated risk that will result (particularly if the existing trade mark that you are emulating is part of a distinctive and well-known brand). The brand owner could argue that your trade mark would tarnish the reputation of the existing trade mark and can pursue for remedies such as damages or destruction of your goods.
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Authors – Claire Shomade and Chijioke Ude