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Animoji being announced at the Sept. 12 Apple Event. Photo courtesy of Apple

SAN FRANCISCO — Susman Godfrey on Wednesday filed suit against Apple Inc. on behalf of a Japanese company that says the tech giant ripped off the trademark for “Animoji” when it announced a feature for the moving graphics at last month’s iPhone X launch.

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Ben Hancock

Ben Hancock is the Data Editor for ALM Media and Law.com. Based in San Francisco, he leads a newsroom initiative to produce insightful, data-driven journalism. Ben can be reached at bhancock@alm.com.

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[caption id="attachment_3500" align="alignnone" width="620"]<img class="size-full wp-image-3500" src="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Susman Godfrey

/uploads/sites/403/2017/10/Animoji-Article-201710192208.jpg" alt="" width="620" height="372" /> <em> Animoji being announced at the Sept. 12 Apple Event. Photo courtesy of Apple</em>[/caption] SAN FRANCISCO����� Susman Godfrey on Wednesday filed suit against Apple Inc. on behalf of a Japanese company that says the tech giant ripped off the trademark for "Animoji" when it announced a feature for the moving graphics at last month���s iPhone X launch. Emonster k.k., owned by a U.S. citizen living in Japan named Enrique Bonansea, alleges that Bonansea came up with the term ���ANIMOJI��� in 2014 and registered it at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office the following year. He���s been using the name to market an app for moving emojis in Apple���s own app store since 2014, according to the complaint. ���This is a textbook case of willful, deliberate trademark infringement. With full awareness of plaintiffs��� ANIMOJI mark, Apple decided to take the name and pretend to the world that ���Animoji��� was original to Apple,��� says <a href="http://www.almcms.com/contrib

  • Susman Godfrey

/uploads/documents/292/AnimojiComplaint.pdf">the complaint</a>, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Susman Godfrey partner Oleg Elkhunovich. The complaint also alleges that Apple used intermediary companies as ���fronts��� in attempts to purchase the rights to the ANIMOJI mark this past summer, but that Bonansea did not sell or license it. Then, on Sept. 11���the day before Apple publicly announced its own ���Animoji��� feature at the unveiling of the new iPhone X���the company filed a petition with the USPTO to cancel the mark, according to the complaint. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit Thursday. This is not the first time that the Susman Godfrey firm has gone head-to-head with Apple in an intellectual property case. In fall of 2016, lawyers for the firm <a href="http://www.therecorder.com/id=1202767910814/4thYear-Associate-Earns-Bragging-Rights-in-Appeal-Against-Apple">clinched a critical victory</a> at a California state appellate court in favor of the inventor of Apple headphone line Beats. Bonansea���s suit appears complicated by the fact that his original trademark registration filing was made by ���emonster Inc.������a corporation in Washington State that did not exist at the time;�� Apple pointed to that fact in seeking to cancel the mark, according to the complaint. (Bonansea lived in Seattle prior to moving to Japan in 2003,��the complaint notes.) But Susman Godfrey argues that the dissolved Washington corporation and the existing Japanese corporation ���had been acting as a single commercial enterprise��� when the registration was filed. In any event, ���to avoid any doubt,��� emonster k.k. filed a new registration for ANIMOJI on Sept. 12, dating the term���s first ���use in commerce��� back to July 2014, the complaint says. Apple���s ���Animoji��� feature, according to the company���s <a href="https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2017/09/the-future-is-here-iphone-x/">Sept. 12 press release</a>, uses the iPhone X���s new camera features to analyze over 50 different facial muscle movements, ���then animates those expressions in a dozen different Animoji, including a panda, unicorn and robot.��� According to the complaint, Bonansea���s app similarly allows users ���to animate characters inside messages.��� The complaint adds that he had planned to release an update at the end of 2017, but cut the process short to rush out a new version shortly after Apple���s announcement. <

  • Susman Godfrey


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