Apple is being sued for use of the term ‘Animoji’
Apple’s showcase of Animojis was definitely one of the most “interesting” parts of Apple’s September keynote, especially as we were privileged enough to witness Craig Federighi use his face to animate the poo emoji. Unfortunately for Apple though, they may have just gotten themselves into some hot water. It turns out a Japanese company owns the US trademark for ‘Animoji’ and the company is understandably not too happy.
Emonster, the Tokyo-based company, filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in US federal court. According to the suit, “Apple decided to take the name and pretend to the world that Animoji was original to Apple.”
Emonster owns an iOS app called Animoji which launched in 2014. The app lets users send animated emojis in a gif-like manner built from a string of text which you can code to perform different effects. While they share a name, the features are different: Apple’s iPhone X-exclusive Animoji feature instead allows users to take advantage of the phone’s facial recognition technology, morphing their faces into animated, talking emojis.
According to the filing, Apple allegedly offered to buy the trademark from CEO Enrique Bonansea, a US-citizen living in Japan, and despite turning down the offer, the company decided to use the Animoji name anyway.
“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 file reads. “Apple could have changed its desired name prior to its announcement when it realised 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.”
Apple filed a petition in September to cancel the trademark from Emonster because, due to a filing mistake, Emonster registered the trademark to a non-existent business. The trademark is now under review.
The Japanese company is seeking an undisclosed sum of money in damages as well as a court order to block Apple from using the name Animoji with immediate effect.