Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

Apple Sued by Memoji App Maker

When Apple unveiled the last, not their latest, set of iPhones, one feature that seemed to garner quite a bit of buzz was the Animoji feature. Animojis are like emojis, but animated using your facial expressions. Thanks to Apple's hard work, using the iPhone X, or later models, you can send talking emoji messages to people.

Fast-forwarding to this year, Apple announced the next step for Animoji, which was recently released in the most recent IOS 12 update: Memoji. Unlike the Animoji feature, Memoji allows users to create custom talking emoji that look like themselves (rather than the small selection of Animojis), but animated, and with embellishments. Unfortunately for Apple, the announcement of the Memoji feature has resulted in a lawsuit being filed by an app maker that had already been developing an app by the same name, with strikingly similar functionality.

Suing the Big Apple

The app developer, Social Tech, claims in their lawsuit that Apple deliberately infringed upon their properly registered trademark, Memoji. The complaint briefly explains that Apple secured the rights to a defunct app by the same name, but that Apple's own trademark for Memoji is listed as suspended. The lawsuit further alleges that Apple attempted to secure Social Tech's trademark, yet after being rebuffed, went ahead and used their trademark anyway.

Social Tech released their app ahead of schedule in order to fight back against all the buzz being generated by Apple's release of its own Memoji feature. However, doing so seems to have backfired as they have received negative criticism in user reviews claiming their app doesn't function like Apple's feature. Additionally, it is explained that searching the web for their trademarked name results in links to Apple's feature rather than their app.

Apple may have a reputation among its devoted customers as being a friendly tech company, but to those in the know, this lawsuit seems in keeping with the company's reputation for just taking the technology it wants.

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