“The lawsuit 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.,” Clover reports. “Bonansea says he came up with the name Animoji in 2014 and registered it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2015.”
“Since 2014, Bonansea has been using the Animoji name for a messaging app available in the iOS App Store,” Clover reports. “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.”
“Bonansea’s Animoji app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, he says, and it continues to be available in the App Store,” Clover reports. “The app is designed to send animated texts to people.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: We assume Apple’s legal team vetted the use of “animoji” beforehand especially as a simple search of Apple’s own App Store for the word “animoji” returns a significant multitude apps using that keyword. Likely, Apple’s lawyers felt that purchasing the name was not a requirement for using it for Apple’s feature which uses the TrueDepth Camera system (also used for Face ID) face-scanning tech of iPhone X to generate animated, custom 3D emoji based on your own facial expressions – which Bonansea’s messaging app most certainly does not. Perhaps there is a case for trademark dilution, but we’re not sure if a mere 18,000 downloads sufficiently supports such a claim. You can’t really dilute something about which pretty much nobody has ever heard. Again, Apple’s legal team surely vetted the use of “animoji,” including the possibility of a trademark dilution claim, before using it for their feature.
Our gut reaction in that Bonansea should have sold Apple the trademark when he had the chance.
The lawsuit document (.pdf) is here.