Apple Sued Over 'Animoji' Trademark

Apple is facing a lawsuit for infringing on an existing Animoji trademark, reports The Recorder. Animoji is the name Apple chose for the 3D animated emoji-style characters that will be available on the iPhone X.

The lawsuit [PDF] 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. Bonansea says he came up with the name Animoji in 2014 and registered it with the United States Patent and Trademark Office in 2015.

animoji
Since 2014, Bonansea has been using the Animoji name for a messaging app available in the iOS App Store. 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.

This is a textbook case of willful, deliberate trademark infringement. With full awareness of Plaintiffs' ANIMOJI mark, Apple decided to take the name and pretend to the world that "Animoji" was original to Apple. Far from it. Apple knew that Plaintiffs have used the ANIMOJI mark to brand a messaging product available for download on Apple's own App Store.

Indeed, Apple offered to buy Plaintiffs' mark but was rebuffed. Instead of using the creativity on which Apple developed its worldwide reputation, Apple simply plucked the name from a developer on its own App Store. Apple could have changed its desired name prior to its announcement when it realized Plaintiffs already used ANIMOJI for their own product. Yet Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name for itself--regardless of the consequences.

Bonansea's Animoji app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, he says, and it continues to be available in the App Store. The app is designed to send animated texts to people.

In the summer of 2017, ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X, Bonansea was allegedly approached by companies with names like The Emoji Law Group LLC who attempted to purchase his Animoji trademark, and he believes these entities were working on behalf of Apple.

He opted not to sell, though he says he was threatened with a cancellation proceeding if he did not. On September 11, just prior to the debut of the iPhone X, Apple did indeed file a petition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the Animoji trademark.

iphonexanimojifacialexpression2

Apple's Animoji

Bonansea originally trademarked the name under a Washington corporation called "emonster, Inc," a company that is now defunct. Apple's petition to cancel argued that the "emonster Inc" company did not exist when the Animoji registration was initially filed, and Bonansea claims that it was a mistake the trademark was not filed under the name of his Japanese company, Emonster k.k. A cancellation proceeding for the trademark appears to still be pending.

The lawsuit suggests that Bonansea planned to release an updated Animoji app at the end of 2017, but had to rush to submit a new app "so that Apple did not further associate the Animoji mark in the public's minds with Apple." He claims this has caused suffering and "irreparable injury" as he has had to rush to market with an unfinished product. Bonansea is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent Apple from using the Animoji name along with damages and attorney fees.

Tag: Animoji

Top Rated Comments

otech Avatar
46 months ago
Unlike most of these lawsuits, this one seems reasonable.

I am sure the trademark/IP owner in this case would be able to work out a reasonable settlement, likely already factored in by the legal team at Apple when they used it.

Apple would have done a search on the name before using it and did so fully aware of the owners rights to it.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
marty11 Avatar
46 months ago
Whenever Tim Cook tries to act like a progressive, remember he knew he was stealing this trademark from the little guy and could care less.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yadmonkey Avatar
46 months ago
I don't think that people understand the significance of this case. Even by conservative estimates, the human race will communicate exclusively by emojis by 2022. Whoever controls Animojis will control the world. #sadpanda
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JadawinUK Avatar
46 months ago
THIS is Apple. Not that magical, is it?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
berrymetal Avatar
46 months ago
His app icon is a mixture of the iOS messages icon and an emoji designed by Apple. I think Apple should also sue him ❤️
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mwd25 Avatar
46 months ago
Oh jeez, every time I open my browser Im seeing another story about someone trying to cash in by suing Apple, except..........Apple seems to be wrong on this one. I guess they tried to do the right thing and buy name off the guy. So he didnt sell, ok. The solution isnt to just take the name anyway!!! Come on, Apple. Your better than this. Or at least you claim to be. Leave him with his name. Call it Emojimations, or a million other things you could come up with. Its just a dumb little feature. Dont lower yourself over this.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
nba tracking prompt orange

Two-Thirds of iPhone Users Expected to Block Ad Tracking

Friday April 9, 2021 7:19 am PDT by
As many as 68 percent of iPhone users are expected to deny advertisers permission to track them thanks to Apple's App Tracking Transparency feature, in what is beginning to look like a significant blow to the advertising industry (via AdWeek). With the launch of iOS 14.5, apps will have to receive explicit user permission before accessing an iPhone's advertising identifier or IDFA, which is...
fake airpods 3

Counterfeit 'AirPods 3' Hit the Market Prior to Official Announcement

Friday April 9, 2021 2:45 am PDT by
Apple is expected to launch the third iteration of AirPods in the third quarter of this year. Rumors and reports suggest the new AirPods will feature an updated design more in line with the AirPods Pro, but lacking in "Pro" features such as active noise cancellation. Despite AirPods 3 not yet being officially announced by Apple, counterfeit products of the unreleased earbuds have already hit ...
Top Stories 56 Feature

Top Stories: 'Find My' Expansion, iPhone 13 Pro Mockup, Largest-Ever iMac?

Saturday April 10, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
Apple's AirTags may still be nowhere to be seen nearly two years after signs of them were first discovered, but Apple this week launched its Find My network accessory program that will let third-party devices integrate with the Find My app on Apple's platforms to make it easy to keep track of your items. This week also saw fresh rumors about the upcoming "iPhone 13" and new iMacs, while...
ehric

iPhone 12 Mini Missing From Top 5 Best Selling Smartphone List of January 2021

Friday April 9, 2021 4:58 am PDT by
According to market data compiled by Counterpoint Research, Apple's smallest iPhone since the 2016 iPhone SE, the iPhone 12 mini, struggled to obtain a spot in the top five list of best-selling smartphones in January of this year. According to the market data, the iPhone 12 mini came in eighth place for the best-selling smartphone worldwide in the first month of the year. However, the iPhone ...
sonny 2021 ipad mini pro dummies

Leaked Dummy Units Show iPad Mini 6 With Thick Bezels and Home Button, New iPad Pro Models

Thursday April 8, 2021 2:11 am PDT by
Rumors suggest Apple will release refreshed versions of the iPad mini and iPad Pro models in the first half of this year, potentially as soon as this month, and a new leak today has provided us with a possible preview of what to expect in terms of the devices' overall design and camera prospects. Tech leaker and Apple blogger Sonny Dickson this morning shared images on Twitter showing dummy ...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...