Late last week, a law firm Susman Godfrey LLP on behalf of Enrique Bonansea, a U.S. citizen living in Japan who owns a company called Emonster k.k. Bonansea filed a suit against Apple for infringing on an existing Animoji trademark, according to The Recorder.
Animoji is the name Apple chose for the 3D animated emoji-style characters that will be available on the iPhone X. The plaintiff stated that the name Animoji was initiated in 2014 and was registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2015. Since 2014, Bonansea has been using the Animoji name for a messaging app available in the iOS App Store.
The Complaint states that Apple was consciously aware of the Animoji app and attempted to purchase the Animoji trademark ahead of the unveiling of the iPhone X.
Bonansea’s Animoji app has been downloaded more than 18,000 times, he says, and it continues to be available in the App Store. The app is designed to send animated texts to people. Bonansea has opted not to sell her trademark after being approached by companies with names like The Emoji Law Group LLC who are allegedly working on behalf of Apple.
Apple filed a petition with the USPTO to cancel the Animoji trademark. Bonansea originally trademarked the name under a Washington corporation called “emonster, Inc,” a company that is now defunct. Apple’s petition to cancel argued that the “emonster Inc” company did not exist when the Animoji registration was initially filed, and Bonansea claims that it was a mistake that the trademark was not filed under the name of his Japanese company, Emonster k.k. A cancellation proceeding for the trademark appears to still be pending.
Bonansea is seeking preliminary and permanent injunctions to prevent Apple from using the Animoji name along with damages and attorney fees.