Android app maker upset at Apple over its use of ‘Memoji’ name

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Animoji
Another app maker is upset that Apple used the Memoji name.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iOS 12’s Memojis — Animoji-style avatars which look like the user, rather than talking poop emojis or animals — are a cool feature that sets Apple apart from some of its Android rivals.

But according to a new lawsuit, the Memoji trademark actually came from an Android app with the same name.

The Android app maker, Social Tech, first filed a “MEMOJI” trademark back in April 2016. However, before registration was finally granted, Apple moved in to try and secure the name for itself. To do this, Apple reportedly created a subsidiary called Memofun Apps LLC which then obtained a previously “forgotten and abandoned” app which also used the name “Memoji.”

This previous app was made by creators Big 3 ENT and Lucky Bunny. They had made and suspended a trademark application for the name, which they then signed over to Apple in a deal on June 4, 2018. This happened to be the same day Apple unveiled Memojis at WWDC.

Google Play/MEMOJI1
The MEMOJI app in the Google Play app store.
Photo: Google Play/MEMOJI

As an added twist to the story, Social Tech says it was approached by a mystery buyer in May, asking about purchasing the rights to the “MEMOJI” name. Social Tech said no, and the person declined to reveal which company they worked for.

“Apple’s infringing product has, since the day of its announcement, caused Social Tech to lose control of its brand: a Google search and YouTube search for MEMOJI is dominated by Apple’s Infringing Memoji,” the complaint reads.

Given the history here, it sounds like a slightly convoluted case to get to the bottom of — although that is exactly what will have to happen if this winds up in court.

While we can see both sides of the case here, this wouldn’t be the first time Apple has bulldozed another company to get the name it wants for a product. Back in 2007, Apple steamrolled Cisco to get the use of the name iPhone, which Cisco legally owned. After an agreement was reached, Apple once again “borrowed” another Cisco trademark — IOS — which Cisco used for its Internet Operating System.

Then again, maybe the Android app maker is just upset that they didn’t take Apple’s offer to purchase the name when it was first made!

Source: Apple Insider