Emoji source of intellectual property dispute

Glenn W. Peterson

California businesses know that their brands can be powerful tools that create market recognition and preference among their customers. In addition to company brands, the names used for products, services and technologies are also vital assets for businesses. That is why these things are so commonly trademarked. Despite there being an established process for requesting and receiving a trademark, disputes may still arise surrounding individual terms.

An action recently filed against a major international company highlights the many nuances that may be involved in a trademark dispute. The issue hinges on the use of one word for a particular feature in a product. Three years ago, a new company in Japan developed an app that allowed users to create and share animated emojis. In the following year, it was granted a trademark for the term for this app.

This might seem straightforward but now Apple is fighting the legitimacy of this trademark. At one point, the technology giant is reported to have tried to purchase the trademark from the Japanese company but was turned down. After that, Apple has still used the trademark itself to refer to a feature in its newest phone. As a result, the Japanese company is pursuing legal action against Apple to protect what it says is a rightful trademark.

When controversies surrounding trademarks arise, California businesses might want to consult with an experienced business and intellectual property attorney to understand the laws involved and their options.

Source: The Verge, “Apple sued by Japanese company that owns Animoji trademark,” Shannon Liao, October 20, 2017