Apple Sued over Animoji Trademark Claim

A Japanese company, Emonster kk, decided to sue Apple Inc. due to their claim over the name Animoji that Apple used to name its iPhone X feature.
Animoji on laptop
A woman uses iPhone X’s newest feature, the “Animoji” as seen on the laptop.

A Japanese company, Emonster kk, decided to sue Apple Inc. due to their claim over the name Animoji that Apple used to name its iPhone X feature.

According to Emonster, they own the U.S. trademark of the name “Animoji,” granted to them by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices in 2015.

The Tokyo-based software company applied the mark to a titular app – Animoji – Free Animated Texting [Patent Pending], an app that provides basic animated emoji graphics that can be embedded in iMessage or email text – that was made available in the iOS App Store on July 2014 for $0.99.

Emonster’s complaint includes the information that not only was Apple aware of the app’s existence but that it also tried to purchase rights for the mark from the Japanese company.

Enrique Bonansea, president and CEO of emonster Inc. and a U.S. citizen residing in Japan, said that Apple “fronts”, such as The Emoji Law Group LLC., approached him to try and buy off the property from him this summer. A threat was allegedly made, the filing of cancellation ensuing if the developer failed to submit to their requests.

The suit did not contain any evidence that proved Apple’s involvement with the said fronts.

“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,” the complaint reads. “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.”

A request for the cancellation of the “Animoji” trademark was made by Apple, a day prior to the announcement of the iPhone X’s highlighted feature in September. Apple noted that the Washington company “emonster Inc.” did not exist during the original trademark filing. Bonansea lived in Seattle before moving to Japan.

The suit contradicts that the now dissolved “emonster Inc.” and current Japanese company, “emonster k.k.” acted as a “single commercial enterprise” during the first filing of trademark. Emonster’s USPTO councel filed for a technical correction in order for the ownership to be clarified, but it was rebuffed due to the request for cancellation already on its way.

The Plaintiffs’ reapplication for “Animoji” was made on September 12, 2017, but used emonster k.k. this time, basing registration on the app’s 2014 launch data.

Emonster is demanding an unknown amount of money in damages and a court order that will prevent Apple from continuing to use the name.

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