The Top 10 Trademark Battles That Swept 2017

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Posted: 14th December 2017 by
Richard Rossington
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Lawyer Monthly has picked out 10 really interesting and influential trademark battles that took the spotlight in 2017.

1. Apple Inc. Vs Emonster KK, Samsung Electronics Co. & Nokia Corporation

Apple have been through a lot in recent year, and 2017 was a good year for Apple lawsuits. Therefore, we’ve crammed three in one here.

The first of the above relates to Apple Inc. Vs Emonster KK, a trademark case surrounding the use of Animojis, the animated emojis featured on the new iPhone X. Japan-based Emonster owns an app called Amimoji that allows the use of moving emojis. Apple’s new Animoji feature on the other hand allows use of the facial recognition technology to create animated emojis with the users face.

Emonster consequently filed a suit against Apple in October stating that “Apple made the conscious decision to try to pilfer the name (‘Animoji’) for itself.” Apple moved to buy the trademark and was refused, but carried on using the name Animoji. Emonster is now seeking damages and wants to Apple to stop using the trademarked name. More to come on this one.

The second case is huge: Apple Inc. Vs Samsung Electronics Co. Currently on remand from the Supreme Court, this covers an Apple design patent that Samsung allegedly stole. So it’s not strictly trademark, but patents are still very much a huge part of a company’s IP.

Beginning in 2011, Apple sued Samsung for the infringement of US Patent Nos. D618,677 (claiming an electronic device having black rectangular front face with rounded corners), D593,087 (claiming an electronic device having a rectangular front face with rounded corners and a raised rim) and D604,305 (claiming a grid of 16 colourful icons on a black screen of an electronic device). A jury then awarded $399 million in damages to Apple, which amounted to the whole sum of Samsung’s profits on the phones it sold infringing these patents.

Several years later, and now in question, Samsung is appealing the federal Circuit decision, claiming that the ‘article of manufacture’ by which the patent infringement includes several components, only part of which infringe on the patents. On remand, the Federal Circuit will have to decide whether “the relevant article of manufacture for each design patent … is the smartphone or a particular smartphone component.” This could have huge implications for thousands of tech consumer goods worldwide, most of which would be considered a build of components, each part of which would be up for debate when it comes to patent infringement cases.

Lastly, we have Apple Inc. Vs Nokia Corporation. In May this year, another patent case came about surrounding Apple’s use of Nokia technologies within its smartphones, tablets and other products. Apple decided it would no longer pay for the use of Nokia’s technology patents, stating that many of them are already built and established into Apple’s suite of products. It accused Finland-based Nokia of extortion on the use of its patents.

Nokia then moved to file 11 lawsuits across Europe and the US. The cases were then settled between the parties with a new agreement that Apple would pay royalties to Nokia as of 2Q17, and with further agreements, announced it would be stocking Nokia’s digital health products in its stores.

This case is an important one for 2017, as its shows Nokia, once the biggest manufacturer of phones in the world, refusing to give up its assets to Apple, now one of the big five and a company that outmuscled Nokia many years back. The technologies, patents and similar IP assets Nokia owns now continue to be the grand doe of Nokia’s annual turnover.

Hit the next page for some bonus picks!

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