Court upholds Apple’s legal win over Social Technologies in ‘Memoji’ battle

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Social Technologies, an Atlanta-based app maker, developed its “Memoji” app just to win a legal battle with Apple, reports Reuters.

Memoji is the name used for Apple’s personalized “Animoji” characters that can be created and customized right within Messages by choosing from a set of inclusive and diverse characteristics to form a unique personality. 

In a 2018 complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Social Technologies claimed Apple’s Memoji mark infringes on a similar trademark — “MEMOJI” — currently in use by Social Technologies, which makes Android apps. According to the suit, Social Tech filed an intent-to-use application for the MEMOJI mark in April 2016, but before registration was obtained, Apple made a play for its version of the name. 

Apple filed a motion for summary judgement to “avoid punishment.” The court granted the motion in December 2019 on a conclusion that “no reasonable jury could find that Social Tech used the “MEMOJI” mark ‘in commerce.” However, in an appeal filed on Aug. 24 in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, Social Tech claimed that the lower court erred in its judgement.

Today U.S. Senior Judge Jane Restani of the U.S. Court of International Trade, writing for a three-judge panel, said Social Tech lacked protectable rights in its Memoji mark because it never made legitimate use of it in commerce. Not surprisingly, Social Tech’s attorney John Pierce of Pierce Bainbridge said he would immediately begin preparing an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.