Lawsuit claims Apple appropriated idea for diverse emoji characters

Posted:
in General Discussion
Apple has been hit with a lawsuit claiming that its ethnically diverse emoji characters willfully infringe on existing copyrights.

Credit: Apple
Credit: Apple


The complaint, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, claims that plaintiff Cub Club Investment (CCI) developed "the world's first diverse emoji" brand in 2013. CCI holds more than 20 copyrights covering diverse emoji, and has three pending patent applications and it launched an app, "iDiversicons," on the App Store the same year.

According to the lawsuit, Apple willfully stole the idea of diverse emoji and used it in its own platforms without permission.

Beginning in 2013, CCI said it pitched the ethnically diverse emoji idea to the Unicode Consortium -- the trade organization responsible for the emoji standard. Apple, who is a member of the consortium, attended those meetings. Meetings between CCI and the Unicode Consortium took place in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Furthermore, CCI said it met several times with Apple representatives to discuss a partnership between the two companies. Discussions fell through when Apple allegedly decided against a partnership and proceeded to develop its own diverse emoji designs.

In March 2014, Apple was said to be planning an update to its emoji characters to bring a wider selection of ethnic diversity. In November of that year, the Unicode Consortium revealed draft proposals for a range of emoji skin tones.

According to CCI's complaint, the first letter to Apple about a potential partnership was sent on March 27, 2014, two days following reports that the tech giant was considering development of diverse emoji. Apple ultimately launched the emoji designs with a five skin tone pallet selector as an addition to iOS 8.3 in 2015.

The complaint accuses Apple of copyright infringement, trade dress infringement and false designation of origin, and common law unfair behavior, among other counts.

It seeks a finding that Apple infringed CCI's copyrights; a permanent injunction preventing the company from doing so; an account of profits and advantages from the copyright infringement; and damages suffered as a result of the infringement.


Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    GabyGaby Posts: 190member
    Lol.... 😂 
    razorpit
  • Reply 2 of 18
    So this guy copyrighted acknowledging that people have different skin colors? Sounds legit. 
    InspiredCodeXedsvanstromrazorpitStrangeDaysronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 1,070member
    Hmmm, I wasn’t in any of those meeting and it seems like the logical step, given that this country all of a sudden woke up and discovered there were people of color. Is it a stolen idea? I don’t think so, but I’m not a lawyer. 
    InspiredCodedrdavidsvanstromdysamoriaStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    Can you really copyright an idea? Even patents don't work that way (or they're not supposed to anyway).
    edited September 2020 InspiredCodesvanstromdysamoriaStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 18
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 2,004member
    Good luck with this one. 

    IANALAIDPOOTV.   But copyright can protect look and actual design.  It doesn't protect ideas.  Unless Apple copied their actual emoji I don't see this going anywhere.   Apple adding color choice to their existing emoji shouldn't be an infringement unless the actual emoji were copied in some form. 
    StrangeDaysFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    Ummm... do they know how copyright works?
    edited September 2020 dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 18
    So now along with micro aggressions we have micro inventions. 
    sdw2001watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    It wasn't an original idea even back in 2013. People had been asking for skin color options for emojis ever since the first emojis were introduced.
    svanstromdysamoriaDAalsethronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 18
    HeliBum said:
    Can you really copyright an idea? Even patents don't work that way (or they're not supposed to anyway).
    No, ideas cannot be copyrighted or patented.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    HeliBum said:
    Can you really copyright an idea? Even patents don't work that way (or they're not supposed to anyway).
    Here are fairly accurate or official definitions:
    • A Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is intended to protect the original expression of an idea in the form of a creative work, but not the idea itself.
    • Patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent, subject to the conditions and requirements of the law.
    • Trade secrets are a type of intellectual property that comprise formulaspracticesprocessesdesignsinstrumentspatterns, or compilations of information that have inherent economic value because they are not generally known or readily ascertainable by others, and which the owner takes reasonable measures to keep secret.
    Each of these things could be used by the company to seek redress from Apple. The proper way to seek redress is in the courts. Not the court of public opinion, but the third branch of government in the US.

    I can't read the complaint now because the link in the article has become broken. But in theory any or all of these three principles of law could be used. In this case, copyrights could be used if the company can prove that the images look too much like their own images. Patents could potentially be used if they have a patent and that patent is violated by the mechanisms Apple has implemented either visually or behind the scenes. Trade Secrets could be used if the company shared information privately with Apple and Apple knew the information was meant to remain private but Apple used it.

    Let the courts do their constitutionally mandate jobs. Let the case progress. Some countries don't have fair judicial systems. Celebrate your system!

    I am always happy when anything goes to the courts. The job of the courts is to get to the truth. Nothing is ever wrong with the truth.
    edited September 2020 dysamoriarazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    A company interested in diversity is of course very protective of their highly creative innovation giving people the representation that they'd been asking for for years. (Oh how I ducking hate people looking for a quick payday by legally locking down a common idea originating in an existing, and clearly vocalised, need.)

    Some next level asshattery going on here; to the point where the hats in questions should be outed and dragged through media until they reach enlightenment about their bad ways.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 18
    As I said last time: I can no longer take a single patent or patent lawsuit seriously. The system is so broken as to be useless. The court cases are won and lost by mega-monied entities, over the poorly devised rules, in a broken system.

    Also: why aren’t they attacking the Unicode consortium? It sounds like Unicode consortium was discussing the idea either earlier, contemporaneously, or later than their own claimed dates, but the lawsuit addresses Apple alone?
    DAalsethtenthousandthingswatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 2,806member
    HeliBum said:
    Can you really copyright an idea? Even patents don't work that way (or they're not supposed to anyway).
    Here are fairly accurate or official definitions:
    • A Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is intended to protect the original expression of an idea in the form of a creative work, but not the idea itself.
    • Patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent, subject to the conditions and requirements of the law.
    • Trade secrets are a type of intellectual property that comprise formulaspracticesprocessesdesignsinstrumentspatterns, or compilations of information that have inherent economic value because they are not generally known or readily ascertainable by others, and which the owner takes reasonable measures to keep secret.
    Each of these things could be used by the company to seek redress from Apple. The proper way to seek redress is in the courts. Not the court of public opinion, but the third branch of government in the US.

    I can't read the complaint now because the link in the article has become broken. But in theory any or all of these three principles of law could be used. In this case, copyrights could be used if the company can prove that the images look too much like their own images. Patents could potentially be used if they have a patent and that patent is violated by the mechanisms Apple has implemented either visually or behind the scenes. Trade Secrets could be used if the company shared information privately with Apple and Apple knew the information was meant to remain private but Apple used it.

    Let the courts do their constitutionally mandate jobs. Let the case progress. Some countries don't have fair judicial systems. Celebrate your system!

    I am always happy when anything goes to the courts. The job of the courts is to get to the truth. Nothing is ever wrong with the truth.
    My 2 cents:
    Copyright
    : I don't think this would hold. It's clear that Apple took their existing Emojis and just added different shades to them. They did not suddenly change the design of their emojis to make the shading possible. Shading in general cannot be covered by a copyright.
    Patent: Also doubtful. They would have to show both that Apple copied their code, and that their code was in some way special and protectable. It would have to be more than having five different Pantone numbers embedded in each Emoji.
    Trade Secrets: Not a chance. They themselves say that they were pitching the idea to the Unicode Consortium, a public group that sets public standards. That would have voided any trade secret on the idea. Plus as others have said the idea of multiethnic Emojis predates their claimed registration by over a decade. 

    Apple will lose because it's West Texas, but on appeal it will be overturned and thrown out with prejudice. 

    And I thought the rules had been changed so you had to file these suits where both parties had a presence. I thought that was why Apple closed their store in West Texas a few years ago, so they couldn't be sued in that farce of a district.
    edited September 2020 StrangeDaysInspiredCode
  • Reply 14 of 18
    So they heard Apple was developing emojis with different skin tones and met with Apple 2 days after it Apple announced it was. Sounds like they didn’t need them to do what they were already doing. 
    DAalsethronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    Sounds bogus. As we know ideas aren’t patentable, implementations are. You can’t patent a “flying car”, but you can patent how your anti-grave engine works. This is for copyright, but copyright also doesn’t protect ideas:

    How do I protect my idea?
    Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work. 

    https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html
    edited September 2020 headfull0winewatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    DAalseth said:
    HeliBum said:
    Can you really copyright an idea? Even patents don't work that way (or they're not supposed to anyway).
    Here are fairly accurate or official definitions:
    • A Copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner the exclusive right to make copies of a creative work, usually for a limited time. The creative work may be in a literary, artistic, educational, or musical form. Copyright is intended to protect the original expression of an idea in the form of a creative work, but not the idea itself.
    • Patents are granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent, subject to the conditions and requirements of the law.
    • Trade secrets are a type of intellectual property that comprise formulaspracticesprocessesdesignsinstrumentspatterns, or compilations of information that have inherent economic value because they are not generally known or readily ascertainable by others, and which the owner takes reasonable measures to keep secret.
    Each of these things could be used by the company to seek redress from Apple. The proper way to seek redress is in the courts. Not the court of public opinion, but the third branch of government in the US.

    I can't read the complaint now because the link in the article has become broken. But in theory any or all of these three principles of law could be used. In this case, copyrights could be used if the company can prove that the images look too much like their own images. Patents could potentially be used if they have a patent and that patent is violated by the mechanisms Apple has implemented either visually or behind the scenes. Trade Secrets could be used if the company shared information privately with Apple and Apple knew the information was meant to remain private but Apple used it.

    Let the courts do their constitutionally mandate jobs. Let the case progress. Some countries don't have fair judicial systems. Celebrate your system!

    I am always happy when anything goes to the courts. The job of the courts is to get to the truth. Nothing is ever wrong with the truth.
    My 2 cents:
    Copyright
    : I don't think this would hold. It's clear that Apple took their existing Emojis and just added different shades to them. They did not suddenly change the design of their emojis to make the shading possible. Shading in general cannot be covered by a copyright.
    Patent: Also doubtful. They would have to show both that Apple copied their code, and that their code was in some way special and protectable. It would have to be more than having five different Pantone numbers embedded in each Emoji.
    Trade Secrets: Not a chance. They themselves say that they were pitching the idea to the Unicode Consortium, a public group that sets public standards. That would have voided any trade secret on the idea. Plus as others have said the idea of multiethnic Emojis predates their claimed registration by over a decade. 

    Apple will lose because it's West Texas, but on appeal it will be overturned and thrown out with prejudice. 

    And I thought the rules had been changed so you had to file these suits where both parties had a presence. I thought that was why Apple closed their store in West Texas a few years ago, so they couldn't be sued in that farce of a district.
    Most people are clueless about the difference between patents and copyrights (not to mention trade secrets or trademarks), so I was just trying to raise the level of discussion here. Your humble "2 cents" are more likely close to "$20", but the lawyers being used here are each probably charging $200/hour, so they may make points that neither you nor I can anticipate.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    Did Apple use their copyrighted images, or did Apple change the coloring of images Apple owns the copyright to based on the idea of the CCI? Sounds like the allegation is the later which is not a breach of copyright law. If Apple made a minor alteration to their own copyright protected work to change the color pallet, then CCI can only possibly be alleging that Apple's emoji icons are very similar in design to their's. And since Apple released their yellow emoji icons much earlier than this, the only angle CCI has here is to actually claim that CCI was actually copying Apple's images and just changing the color.

    At best for CCI. This goes nowhere. At worst, Apple file a countersuit citing this suit as evidence of willful breach of copyright of Apple's emoji images. Hundreds of copied images. That will likely get expensive for CCI.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 18
    People of colour have existed since before 2013. Prior art.  💁🏻‍♂️💁‍♂️💁🏽‍♂️💁🏾‍♂️💁🏿‍♂️
    watto_cobra
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