Pierce Bainbridge Files Second Suit Against Apple in the Fight Over ‘Memoji’

The Memoji trademark battle continues in a second suit filed by Pierce Bainbridge on behalf of Social Technologies, LLC against tech giant Apple, Inc. on Monday.

Social Tech, the creator of an app called Memoji, submitted an intent-to-use federal trademark registration with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) back in 2016. Despite this registration, and an attempt by Apple to purchase Social Tech’s rights, Apple gave the very same name to its iOS 12 software feature and usurped the name, resulting in confusion in the marketplace.

Social Tech originally filed suit last year against Apple for infringement of its Memoji trademark. Despite Social Tech’s proper registration of Memoji with the USPTO and the pending infringement suit against Apple, Apple has gone so far as to actually display Memoji with the ® symbol on their website.

Apple filed its own application to the USPTO last year, but it has not been granted. Rather than adding a ™ or an ℠ symbol to signify that the trademark or service mark hasn’t been granted registration from the USPTO, Apple has boldly chosen to display it with the ® symbol which denotes ownership of the federal trademark.

This representation is a violation of state and federal law. This is the basis for the second suit filed on Monday in the Southern District of New York. As the complaint states, this listing on Apple’s website “attempts to defraud the general public to Social Tech’s detriment” and “deceived or has the capacity to deceive a substantial segment of potential consumers of Apple and [Social Tech’s] products.”

Less than 24 hours after this complaint was filed, Apple has suddenly changed the symbol next to their Memoji listing from ® to ™ on their website. This isn’t the first time Apple has engaged in this type of deceptive behavior during the life of this suit.

According to the complaint, on June 17, 2018, a day before a scheduled deposition of Thomas La Perle, Apple’s Senior Director of Copyright and Trademark, Memoji was not on listed on its trademark list page. Immediately after the deposition, Memoji suddenly appeared on the updated list.

Our complaint exposes the bullying behavior exhibited generally too often by Apple in the marketplace and specifically with respect to start-up businesses. As the complaint also mentions, its no surprise that “Apple has been listed among the ‘biggest trademark bullies’ by World Trademark Review.” 

Partner David Hecht is leading the charge for Social Tech. He states, “We’re proud to defend Social Tech’s trademark. We firmly believe that companies like Apple should be punished when they try to take advantage of others.”

Pierce Bainbridge is dedicated to battling injustices like this and fighting for our clients.

Check out more coverage of the case here: reuters.com, appleinsider.com, and macobserver.com.

Social Technologies LLC v. Apple Inc. et al, 19cv09050, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York

(Flickr Pool photo via Alan Kotok, on Flickr)