Lawsuit targets Apple for directing 'iWatch' Google searches to Apple Watch page

Posted:
in Apple Watch edited July 2015
A new lawsuit accuses Apple of improperly using Google ads to guide "iWatch" searches to its page for the Apple Watch, abusing a trademark it doesn't own, a report said on Tuesday.




An June 26 an Irish software and network services company, Probendi, filed a motion in an Italian court complaining about the ads, Bloomberg remarked. The firm owns rights to the iWatch trademark in the European Union, and a lawyer acting on their behalf noted that Apple never replied to requests or objections, while Google denied responsibility for such links.

Last year, Probendi co-founder Daniele Di Salvo claimed that the company was working on an Android smartwatch that would use the iWatch name and beat the Apple Watch's price. On Tuesday Di Salvo reportedly said that the project was in "standby," and his company's iWatch webpage currently only mentions the dispute with Apple.

A estimate commissioned by Probendi indicated that that the iWatch trademark is worth ?87 million ($97 million), according to two Bloomberg sources. An initial hearing for Probendi's case has been set for November 11.

The firm's chance of success are uncertain, since a number of corporations have attempted to sue Google or its advertisers over trademarks with mixed success. Officially, Google examines such issues individually, and may or may not impose restrictions.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 51



    The case should be thrown out.

    There is no device on the market called iWatch at this time and the search results clearly states Apple Watch.

  • Reply 2 of 51
    Words fail me...
  • Reply 3 of 51
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,657member
    Shouldn't they sue Google instead? It's just keywords.
  • Reply 4 of 51
    ceek74ceek74 Posts: 323member

    Nice use of Star Trek font in your logo.

  • Reply 5 of 51
    How could a trademark for a product they're not even making be worth $97 Million?

    Oh, right. Because they're piggybacking on the success of Apple's trademarks and the likelihood that the iWatch name will confuse consumers into thinking their device is made by Apple.

    Hopefully even an Italian court can see through this sham, and send these squatters packing.
  • Reply 5 of 51
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jungmark View Post



    Shouldn't they sue Google instead? It's just keywords.



    That would be my thought.

  • Reply 7 of 51
    As if they registered iWatch for any original reason other than trying to beat Apple to the trademark.
  • Reply 8 of 51
    jfc1138 wrote: »

    That would be my thought.

    Depends on who is adding the keywords. If I read it correctly, Apple set up keywords including iWatch.

    However, any company that, since 2007 (conservatively), adds a lowercase "i" to a product to name it, clearly are trying to use the Apple halo.
  • Reply 9 of 51
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bkieffer View Post



    How could a trademark for a product they're not even making be worth $97 Million?



    Oh, right. Because they're piggybacking on the success of Apple's trademarks and the likelihood that the iWatch name will confuse consumers into thinking their device is made by Apple.


    Agreed!






    Hopefully even an Italian court can see through this sham, and send these squatters packing.


    As opposed to, let's say, the US court that ruled Apple guilty? "Even" suggests Italia has worse courts than the USA, which remains to be demonstrated...

     

    How the ... did I do these lines? Looks cool :)

  • Reply 11 of 51
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by alcstarheel View Post



    Tim Cook's reaction:






    He looks like it's a gay day.

  • Reply 12 of 51
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by John Parkinson View Post



    As if they registered iWatch for any original reason other than trying to beat Apple to the trademark.

    I thought the same thing. Apple owned both names. This law suit is horse shit.

  • Reply 13 of 51
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post





    Depends on who is adding the keywords. If I read it correctly, Apple set up keywords including iWatch.



    However, any company that, since 2007 (conservatively), adds a lowercase "i" to a product to name it, clearly are trying to use the Apple halo.

    what about iDick?

  • Reply 14 of 51
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote: From google ad policies

     



    In response to a complaint, we will do a limited investigation to see whether the use of a trademarked term as a keyword in combination with particular ad text is confusing as to the origin of the advertised goods and services (such as a keyword and ad that falsely imply affiliation with the trademark owner). If the combination of a keyword and ad text is confusing, we will disapprove the specific ad mentioned in the complaint so that it can't run.

    Under our EU and EFTA policy, the following types of ads may use a trademark as a keyword, provided that the combination of the keyword and ad is not confusing (as described above). The following are examples, and not an exhaustive list:


    • Ads using a trademarked term when that term is being used in its ordinary meaning rather than in reference to the trademark

    • Ads for competing products or services

    • Ads for resale of the trademarked goods or service

    • Ads for the sale of components, replacement parts, or compatible products corresponding to a trademark

    • Ads for informational sites about a product or service corresponding to the trademark





  • Reply 15 of 51
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,991moderator

    I think this falls under Fair Use based upon the term becoming common vernacular.  It's wasn't Apple that promoted the term iWatch to refer to its smartwatch.  This came from the public and therefore should be considered fair use of the term, even though it is trademarked.

     

    Here are some other trademarked terms that have become part of the common vernacular and are therefore available to use under Trademark law Fair Use, followed by the generic terms the trademark holders would prefer we use.  The issue is that a company cannot use the trademarked term to name or advertise their products.  This latter bit, the advertising of products, is likely where this company is taking issue.  But I think there is a line that needs to be drawn in the case of a search.  First, a search returns multiple results.  Should no results other than references that point directly to the trademark owner be returned?  This is not the model used in offline search, such as if you ask a friend a question and he interprets your query to mean something less than a literal reference.  Search engines should be allowed this same capability to interpret queries and give appropriate results based upon common use of terms, whether trademarked or not. 

     

    Search Google for Ping Pong, for example.  This trademarked term returns, as the first search result, the Wikipedia page for Table Tennis.  Should Wikipedia be sued for purchasing that trademarked search term to bring users to their page, effectively using the trademarked term to draw traffic to their service?  And if Wikipedia didn't purchase that trademarked search term, then should Google be sued for its interpretation of the trademarked term to mean the generic term, thus sending users to a site not owned by the trademark holder?  A slippery slope when fair use is trumped in favor of a trademark holder.

     

    Bubble Wrap - Air bubble packaging

    Dumpster - Mobile garbage bin

    Ping Pong - Table Tennis

    Escalator - Conveyor transport device, moving stairway

    Thermos - Vacuum flask

    TV Dinner - Frozen meal 

    Popsicle - Frozen ice treat on a stick

    Laundromat - Coin laundry shop

    JumboTron - Large-screen television

    Taser - Stun gun

    Aspirin - Blood-thinning drug, acetylsalicylic acid

    Yo-Yo - Toy on a string

    Chapstick - Lip balm

    Kerosene - Combustible hydrocarbon liquid, parrafin

    Frisbee - Flying disc 

    Jacuzzi - Hot tub 

    Jeep - Sport utility vehicle

    Pogo Stick - Spring stilts, hopping vehicle

    Velcro - Tiny hooks that attach to loops and stick together

    Plexiglas - Moldable plastic

    Zipper - Separable fastener

    Band-Aid - Adhesive bandage

    Kleenex - Tissue, disposable handkerchief

    Xerox - Copy machine, photocopier 

  • Reply 16 of 51

    He looks like it's a gay day.
    Always one a-hole has to make a bigoted remark. Sad.
  • Reply 17 of 51
    blazarblazar Posts: 270member
    This is a funny lawsuit...
  • Reply 18 of 51
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 2,991moderator

    Another aspect of this is that, as a business owner, it is critical to ensure that your trademark does not become a part of the general vernacular.  When the trademark is used it should always be used to identify your products or services.  This company did not ensure that the term iWatch was association with their product, or even their company.  Until today, likely almost nobody knew of this company's association with that term, so the company did little, or nothing, to promote its trademark in the public eye.  On that basis, at least here in the U.S., the trademark might be considered to be abandoned, or it might be considered to already be part of the common vernacular and therefore available for use under the Fair Use aspect of trademark law.

  • Reply 19 of 51
    crimguycrimguy Posts: 116member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by mstone View Post

     



    Excellent work.

  • Reply 20 of 51
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member

    Do I understand right that this company chose the name iWatch IN ORDER TO COMPETE with the upcoming ?Watch, and now sues Apple for being the competition, pretty much?

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