Apple has its share of trademark infringements. Apple has grown into such a big organization that any trademarks or names, would be attributed to Apple first. Anything with an i in front, would be Apple’s. Such is the popularity. When Apple announced iCloud platform, on June 6 2011, no one wondered if there is something similar already. Apple has registered around 250 domain names during its wwdc release.
By now it is all too familiar territory for Apple. Can’t blame it if you have $80 bn in cash and a legal team which put its engineering team to work.
Apple’s latest tangle is iTV, if it chooses to use that. Given the family history, it would be hard for Apple to not use it. iTV is a British broadcaster has already warned Apple to not use that name. We will see how it unfolds but let’s look at Apple’s trysts with trademarks and infringements.
When did it all start? It all started with Apple, the name of the company itself.
Apple computers had to compete with Apple Corp, the organization of Beatles. Apple was first sued for trademark infringement by the Beatles record label, Apple corp. The case was later settled on the condition that Apple would never enter music business. Which it did in 1990’s and was sued again. iTunes is Apple’s big bang entry into music business. The dispute is now settled and Steve Jobs regards releasing Beatles albums on iTunes as one of his greatest achievements.
Apple’s Macintosh ran into trademark rights with McIntosh labs – a high-end stereo equipment maker and MACS (management and computers services). Apple paid $2 million three decades ago to get out. Now Macintosh or Mac as it is fondly called is a top PC brand. It’s also the most desirable brand with a hip tag attached to it.
Apple was sued for trademark infringement due to its adoption of the name “Mighty Mouse” for computer devices despite Terrytoon’s famous trademark for the cartoon character of the same name.
Apple was sued by Cisco Systems, Inc. (“Cisco”) in 2007 for trademark infringement arising from Apple’s introduction of the iPhone. Cisco, whichowned the mark “iPhone,” and Apple had been in licensing discussions for two yearsprior to the launch of the iPhone. Nonetheless, Apple ignored Cisco’s trademark rightsand announced the iPhone without first reaching any agreement with Cisco
Fujitsu Frontech North America, a Texas based company had IPAD registered under its name. Fujitsu filed a lawsuit. The trademark was later transferred to Apple.
Proview Technology of China has the trademark for iPad. Apple bought it for 35000 pounds for the rest of the world except China. Now Proview is demanding $1.6 bn to use iPad trademark in China. Apple hasn’t budged yet and Proview is pulling out iPads from Chinese stores and also asked the customs to stop iPad imports. The battle is still on.
Innovative Media group (IMG) held the iAds name. Apple used it anyway, IMG sued anyway and Apple paid $1mn to IMG. Unlike other iBrands, iAds isn’t that popular.
iCloud is the name registered to iCloud communications in Arizona which offers VOIP, SIP, PBX and conferencing services. Apple has launched iCloud anyway by registering the service in Jamaica. iCloud has filed a lawsuit against Apple. Though nobody knows what happened, iCloud has dropped its lawsuit against Apple and renamed itself to Clear Digital Communications.
Next up is iTV.