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Atlanta-based company Social Technologies LLC today filed a lawsuit against Apple that accuses the iPhone maker of falsely indicating that it holds the federal registration for the trademark Memoji in the United States.
Apple has included MEMOJI® in its U.S. trademark list on its website since June 2019, with the ® symbol signifying a federally registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, despite the federal registration for the trademark belonging to Social Technologies LLC and not Apple.
Of note, Apple has successfully registered the Memoji trademark in some countries outside the United States, and several foreign countries also use ® to indicate that a mark is registered in that country, but fine print on Apple's website says its list is for trademarks and service marks in the United States.
Memoji is the name of Apple's personalized emoji feature for iPhone and iPad, introduced as part of iOS 12 at WWDC 2018. Apple has applied for two trademarks for the feature with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but both are currently suspended due to ongoing litigation with Social Technologies LLC.
Social Technologies LLC offers an Android app named Memoji on the Google Play store, which it describes as "the world's best messaging app that will capture the facial expression of the end user with full-motion capabilities, and transpose the image into a custom, personalized emoji of the users actual face."
Social Technologies LLC already sued Apple for trademark infringement in September 2018, and alleges that Apple even unsuccessfully tried to purchase the rights to its then intent-to-use application in April 2016, yet Apple proceeded to add MEMOJI® to its trademark list in June 2019.
An excerpt from the complaint filed with a U.S. federal court in New York:
Social Tech visited Apple's Trademark List1 on June 17, 2019, a day before the deposition of Mr. Thomas La Perle, Apple's Senior Director of Copyright and Trademark in connection with Plaintiff's trademark infringement action against Apple in the Northern District of California. As of that date—June 17, 2019—MEMOJI was not listed on Apple's Trademark List.
However, immediately following Mr. La Perle's deposition, the Trademark List was updated to include the falsely designated MEMOJI® mark. On information and belief, Mr. La Perle orchestrated a scheme to undermine Social Tech's registered trademark rights and mislead the public by causing Apple to add the falsely designated mark to Apple’s Trademark List.
Social Technologies LLC is seeking an injunction to prohibit Apple from using the ® symbol in connection with Memoji, as well as an award of monetary damages and legal fees. The small company also wants a declaration that it owns the only federally registered Memoji trademark.
Update - Oct 1: Apple has replaced MEMOJI® with Memoji™ in its trademark list.
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1901年，第一个“安全剃须刀”申请专利后，吉列 (Gillette)一直都是剃须刀领头。吉列创办至今已有100多年历史，它投入百万美元在产品研发以及行销上，并占领110亿美元的男性剃须刀多数市场份额。吉列在市场上的领头地位以及丰润的利润吸引宝洁公司（Procter & Gamble）在2005年以570亿美元收购。
所以，产品或技术还没有发布前都必须以专利保护，借此才能避免遭到诉讼或是在侵权诉讼中得到胜利优势。 专利是商家与发明人对其发明及创新的主要保障。通过专利权所提供的合法障碍，商家门可投入资金创新技术产品。有了专利权所赋予的合法排他权，商家们在其发明创新受到非法抄袭之际，针对防冒者或终端客户享有更大的市场谈判筹码，进而保卫公司对发明创新的投资，企业的盈利以及市场占有额。 下期，将会进一步探讨如何通过知识产权保护其市场以及其商标策略。
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