Company sues Apple over the name ‘iWatch’

“Type ‘iWatch’ into Google’s search engine, and the top result is likely to be an ad for the Apple Watch. Apple pays Google for the advertisements so it doesn’t miss out on potential customers who entered the wrong product name,” Daniele Lepido reports for Bloomberg. “But a small Dublin-based company, which owns the iWatch trademark in Europe, is hoping the ads will cost Apple a lot more.”

“Probendi, an Irish software development studio, filed an urgent procedure on June 26 with a court in Milan protesting Apple’s use of the term in its ads, according to the tribunal filing obtained by Bloomberg,” Lepido reports. “Over the years, many companies, including American Airlines, Geico, and Rosetta Stone, have tried to take on Google or its advertisers in court over trademark issues, often unsuccessfully. Google’s policy for its ad service says it evaluates trademark complaints on a case-by-case basis and ‘may enforce certain restrictions.'”

“Probendi co-founder Daniele Di Salvo told Bloomberg last year that the company had warned Apple against using the term. He also said the company was working on a smartwatch of its own that would undercut the Apple Watch in price, run Google’s Android software, and carry the name iWatch,” Lepido reports. “Di Salvo now says the project is ‘in standby.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Yes, we bet it is. Perpetual standby.

27 Comments

  1. How is this an Apple issue, apple’s watch is not called an iWatch. The suit should be with Gaagle and the search engines which incorrectly lists them……but hey, good luck with that.

    Next

    1. I wondered that so I presume if Apple is paying Google to point iWatch enquiries to Apple’s watch then that could be considered a breach. They will no doubt claim their own product is delayed because it would be impossible to launch if it can’t be found. Be surprised if it gets anywhere in the Courts but I guess Italy is probably the Texas of Europe in that regard.

    2. The issue is that Apple purchased iWatch as a Google AdWord. If you type in “iWatch” and do a Google Search, you’ll see an ad for the Apple Watch. Depending on platform and rotation, this could be a very prominent ad.

      Whether or not this is a trademark violation has yet to be fully resolved in the US or EU.

      Google has some self-restrictions on trademark use, but only in the copy of the ad itself. It specifically doesn’t have any restrictions on trademarks in the keywords themselves.

      This is what Apple is doing, and why Google is allowing it.

      Apple is using “iWatch” as a keyword, but is not using “iWatch” in the ad text.

      Again, this use hasn’t been fully resolved by the courts, but to me it seems like a reasonable use of someone else’s trademark as a general case as it allows related products to be advertised and promotes competition as opposed to confusion (which is what trademarks are intended to prevent). If someone searches for Widget, competitors to Widget are able to advertise their products in the search results without using the term Widget, showing that there are alternatives, but not claiming that those alternatives are Widget.

      However this specific case goes even one step further. In this case Apple has a very close association with the lower camel case “i” prefix.

      Those searching for iWatch are most likely actually looking for the Apple Watch, which is precisely why the top organic searches for iWatch are all related to the Apple Watch.

  2. “Di Salvo now says the project is ‘in standby.’”..Until some one come out with a real product and we can sue them and make some money without making any real effort.

  3. “Hey Apple, if you use the name ‘iWatch’ we will sue you—if you don’t use the name ‘iWatch’ we will sue you” . . . . . . in related news, CEO buys home in East Texas.

  4. Google advertisers routinely pay for keywords that are competition brand names. It’s common practice. I haven’t seen the Apple ad, but I doubt the term “iWatch” appears in it. They are just buying an ad in a particular position. My clients would get particularly mad when we’d get a story about them placed in a magazine and then when the issue came out, a competitor had placed an ad of their own smack in the middle the client’s article.

    1. In this case, “iWatch” is a term many people will use by mistake when actually searching for the Apple Watch. So, I think it is both fair and smart for Apple to buying placements on that keyword.

    1. I’ve never seen anyone refer to it as [space]Watch; many of us use the correct Watch ([Apple logo]Watch), and it is entirely possible that you might actually need to be using an Apple device to see that displayed correctly. If you not using some form of Apple device, why are you on this forum?

      1. Replying to you on my Mac Pro. That was veiled sarcasm, because on my Windows laptops, it appears as space. Shouldn’t it “just work”?

        “If you not using some form of Apple device, why are you on this forum?”

        Because then entrance requirements, on the sign on the forum door, must be written in the same invisible characters.

        But really! Are you that excluding? Or is it branded?

        1. “Windows laptops, it appears as space. Shouldn’t it “just work”?”

          windows…

          maybe those people who make Windows (the rivals of apple who CONTROL THE WINDOWS platform) Don’t Want to let it work?
          ever thought about that moron?

      2. It might be a good idea to go to the apple.com site and check out what Apple actually calls it. Nowhere does it call it anything but Apple Watch and the link from the home page refers to it as Watch.

      3. “many of us use the correct Watch”

        Many of you are totally wrong.

        Apple has never used Watch in text online.

        As a graphic, Apple has never used Watch online or in print.

          1. You might want to take a look at apple.com yourself. Note they never use Watch in text online and as a graphic they never use Watch online or in print.

            Are you a complete idiot or just blind?

    2. Bravo !!!!
      Strange how usually the members on this forum are all too sensitive to anything Apple. And yet you are a member or registered anyhow and have a different perspective.
      I am sure we all love Apple as much as the other does… and as humans we agree the company is not perfect nor is every product or software it touches.

      Without criticism Apple can not ever be perfect.
      So those die hard fans here policing the slightest negative word against Apple — crying out anonymous troll – are merely tools and fake Apple fans.

      Being a Architect and Interior Designer, I have must advise nothing is ever perfect – yet we strive for that. And only by reflecting back on our work with consideration even that what was criticized; can improvements occur.

  5. If Probendi came up with the name iWatch before Apple came out with iTunes, iPod, iDisk, iPhone, iPad and iWork AND had an actual product, they would have a point.

    They didn’t and they don’t.

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