Lawsuit claims Apple infringing on ‘iAd’ trademark

“Despite Steve Jobs’s contention that Apple Inc. has commitments of more than $60 million for its iAd platform, the Cupertino, California-based company may have to get a trademark-infringement suit out of the way first,” The Associated Press reports.

“Apple was sued May 21 by Innovate Media Group LLP of Costa Mesa, California, owner of two registered U.S. trademarks for ‘iAd,'” AP reports. “Innovate, founded in 2002 by Yahoo! Inc. alumnus John Cecil, registered the trademarks for use with Internet advertising in October 2008, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company has used the terms since 2006, it said in the complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles.”

AP reports, “Innovate claims that Apple’s use of the ‘iAd’ mark ‘is just another sequence in a pattern of conduct by Apple, of ignoring and tramping the intellectual property rights of others.’ The complaint noted that ‘iPhone,’ ‘iPad’ and even the name ‘Apple’ were all marks held by third parties, ‘which Apple used without the owners’ permission, and ultimately took over.’ Innovate made reference to trademark disputes with the Beatles-founded record label Apple Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc.’s iPhone mark.”

MacDailyNews Note: MInor point (sarcasm), but Apple legally gained the rights to use iPhone, iPad, and Apple. They didn’t “take them over.”

AP continues, “Innovate claimed it has suffered ‘irreparable harm’ and notes that Apple has applied for to register ‘iAd’ as a trademark in Canada. It asked the court to bar Apple from using ‘iAd,’ and for an award of money damages and all profits realized by Apple relative to its alleged infringement. Additionally, Innovate requested awards of litigation costs and attorney fees, and extra damages for what it said is deliberate infringement by Apple.”

More details in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Carl H.” for the heads up.]


  1. I’ve always found it ironic that Apple never trademarked the use of the letter ‘i’ as a prefix to a product title when they came up with the name of ‘iPod’. Its amazing how many products I see these days that are now ‘i’ this and ‘i’ that and you just know the manufacturers got the idea from Apple.

    And now Jobs and co. are being sued by a company who would never have called their product ‘iAd’ if they hadn’t got the idea from the culture that originated in Cupertino.

  2. Is it reasonable to suggest that Apple might have sought to license the trademark from innovate but innovate wanted too much for the trademark, forcing Apple to end run around Innovate? Or is there something else going on here?

  3. These guys are like Mosquitos for Apple.

    They will throw a few dollars at it, license the trademark, and consider it a working expense.

    “Few,” being a relative term, of course.

  4. @ Dirty Pierre–

    I remember reading that Apple did in fact try registering the letter “i” to begin the name of a product, but they were rejected.

  5. So, Apple may have to call it iAppAd or something else. Other than first putting Apple “i” in front of “Ad”. What are you doing with it where Apple cost you money?

    Apple should sue Innovate Media Group LLP for using Apple’s “i” without their permission!

  6. C’mon guys. Let’s not be blind followers and call out Apple when needed. We’ll be much more respected as a group if we apply a little bit of intellectual honesty.

    Even MDN didn’t have a quip about this because it appears Apple is trampling on someone else’s IP. God forbid someone does this to Apple and you guys would be out for blood. Does the term hypocrytical come to mind?

    Apple does have a history of this behavior. Perhaps it’s just their way of forcing some negotiated deal. But until that happens, there is another party who appears to have a legitimate mark.

  7. It’s not even a consumer space brand, the name is irrelevant. User’s will never see “iAds”, they will just see advertisements in the application they are using. iAd is simply a description for the technology and could just as easily be “Apple’s Ad Framework”.

    Why would Apple pursue this name or not have investigated it in the first place?

  8. Just did a search for iAd on Google. In the first ten pages of results there was not one single mention of Innovative Media. there are other meanings for the three letters but nothing else to do with advertising.

    These are just ‘trademark’ trolls.

    It’s simple kiddies. trademark every possibility with ‘i’ in front of it. Apple will surely want to use it sometime. It’s a goldmine!

  9. Yes, let’s be fair, and we all know that Innovate came up with the idea of iAd after Apple had started to make the i-prefix famous, you know, the iMac, etc.

  10. these stories are so damn boring…

    Apple has more $$$$$ than Gawd. They can just pay off whoever, and do whatever they want. Are we supposed to be freaked out about this? iAd? Really?


  11. If the Innovate Media company doesn’t have a real product, then that would be support for Apple’s side. But Innovate Media is a real company and they have a product.

    Apple’s going to compromise or lose in court. Naturally, Apple knows this and so they will compromise.

  12. @MadMac
    Although I agree with you and wish Apple was less thug-like in taking names and asking permission later, I would question your use of “IP” not “Trademark”
    I don’t see Apple stealing any Intellectual Property here, just a name. One that was derived off of the coattails of the iMac and iPad. Anyone using “iXXX” is riding the wave of Apple’s success, and although I agree they have the legal right to do so, I don’t think apple is committing immoral technical espionage in trying to gain the name for themselves. If we find Apple has taken the IP, I’ll stand corrected.

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