Flowboard, Flipboard Embroiled In Trademark Infringement Clash


iOS icon for Flipboard on the left, Flowboard to the right.

Flowboard. Flipboard. Look too similar? The people behind the Flipboard app certainly think so.

Brent Brookler, CEO of Treemo and creator of e-publishing iPad app Flowboard, says Flipboard has been threatening him with legal action since shortly after his app launched back in April, asking him to change the name of his app. Flipboard also wants the logo changed, which they say is also too similar to its own logo.

Last week Treemo fired back, preemptively forcing Flipboard’s hand by filing suit first, and asking the court to rule that no infringement had taken place.

“Essentially what we’re doing is bringing it to court quicker, because we don’t want to have this looming over us. We think we’re in the right,” Brookler told us. “We tried to resolve it amicably, they continued to threaten us.”

Flipboard emailed us a statement when we reached out to them for comment:

“We let Treemo know our concerns about the F logo and the Flowboard name that they recently started using and wanted to resolve the matter amicably. Treemo decided instead to get the courts involved. What we are concerned about is the likelihood of confusion and are committed to protecting our trademark.”

Brookler thinks an important detail in the upcoming legal tussle will be the differences between the apps themselves, and stresses that Flipboard, which lets users aggregate content others have created into a custom e-publication, and Flowboard, which creates e-publications from scratch, don’t do the same thing.

“They think the name and marque are too similar and it’s confusing… but the products are not. Ours is in the productivity section, it’s a tool. theirs is a news app. It’s in the news section.”

The clash is a little lopsided in terms of resources. Treemo, which is based in Seattle, has a staff of 12 and has raised $600,000 in funding. Silicon Valley-based Flipboard has about 80 employees, and according to their website has raised $60.5 million.