Apple Inc. litigation

Apple Inc. litigation

From the 1980s to the present, Apple Inc. has been plaintiff or defendant in civil actions in the United States and other countries. Several of these actions have determined significant case law for the technology industry, while others simply captured the attention of the public and media. Apple's litigation generally involves intellectual property disputes, but it litigates in other areas as well. Between January 2008 and May 2010, Apple, Inc. filed more than 350 cases with the US Trademark office alone, most in opposition to or taking exception to others' use of the terms 'apple', 'pod', and 'safari': those cases include sellers of apples (the fruit), as well as many others' less unassuming use of the term 'apple'.[1]


Antitrust claims

Apple iPod, iTunes antitrust litigation

The case In re Apple iPod iTunes Antitrust Litigation was filed as a class-action in 2005 claiming Apple violated the U.S. antitrust statutes in operating a music-downloading monopoly that it created by changing its software design to the proprietary FairPlay encoding in 2004, resulting in other vendors' music files being incompatible with and thus inoperable on the iPod.[2] The suit initially alleged that five days after RealNetworks released in 2004 its Harmony technology making its music playable on iPods, Apple changed its software such that the RealNetworks music would no longer play on iPods. The claims of Apple's changes to its encoding and its refusal to license FairPlay technology to other companies were dismissed by the court 2009, but the allegation of Apple's monopoly on the iPod's music download capabilities between 2004 and 2009 remain as of April 2011. On March 22, 2011, Bloomberg news reported that after a related 3-year inquiry by the Competition Commission, Apple agreed in 2008 to lower its prices on iTunes tracks sold in the U.K.; and also reported that Steve Jobs had been directed by the court in March 2011 to make himself available to be deposed on Apple's FairPlay changes as they relate to the plaintiffs' monopolization claim.[3]

Apple and AT&T Mobility antitrust class action

In the class action filed in 2008 against Apple, Inc. and AT&T Mobility: In re Apple & AT&T Mobility Antitrust Litigation,[4] plaintiffs allege violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act, breach of warranty under the Magnuson–Moss Warranty Act, and other violations of consumer protection laws. In their complaint, plaintiffs allege that consumers were offered iPhones by Apple only if they signed a two-year service agreement with AT&T Mobility, but that unknown to consumers at the time of purchasing the iPhones, the two companies had agreed to technologically restrict voice and data service in the aftermarket for continued voice and data services after the consumers' initial two-year service period expired, while at the same time continuing to share revenue stemming from provision of voice and data services to iPhone users. Plaintiffs allegations include that such an arrangement is a violation of the U.S. federal antitrust laws, of consumer protection laws, and of the Consumer Fraud and Abuse Act; that the arrangement constitutes monopolization of the aftermarket, that it constitutes a conspiracy to monopolize the aftermarket, and that as such and as an unfair and deceptive trade practice the alleged conduct deprives consumers of the benefit of their bargain in the purchase of iPhones. In October 2008 the court denied the defendants' motions to dismiss the case on the federal claims, granted their motions to dismiss the state unfair trade practice claims except in California, New York, and Washington, but gave the plaintiffs leave to amend those claims.[4]

Consumer class actions

Technical support class action

From 1993 to 1996, Apple developed a marketing strategy that promised free unlimited live-telephone support on certain products for as long as the original purchaser owned it. However, by 1997, changes in Apple's AppleCare support policy led them to rescind the offer, resulting in a class action lawsuit which ultimately reinstated the phone support for the duration of original ownership of these otherwise obsolete products. Customers who were refused telephone service and charged per incident or incurred third party support charges were given a limited reimbursement.[5]

iPod battery life class-action

In 2004 and 2005, two state-level class actions were filed against Apple in New York and California, alleging the first, second, and third generation iPod music players sold prior to May 2004 did not have the battery life represented and/or that the battery's capacity to take and hold a charge substantially diminished over time.[6] Rather than litigate these claims, Apple entered into a settlement agreement in August 2005 after a fairness hearing in the California action, with the settlement designed to end the New York action as well by the settlement's terms. An appeal followed the California court's approval of the settlement but the appellate court upheld the settlement in December 2005. Eligible members of the class were entitled to extended warranties, store credit, cash compensation, or battery replacement, and some incentive payments, with all unfiled claims expiring after September 2005. Apple agreed to pay all costs of the litigation, including incentive payments to the class members and the plaintiffs' attorney fees, but admitted no fault.[6]

iPad and iPhone privacy issue class-action

In December 2010, Reuters reported that two separate groups of iPhone and iPad users have sued Apple, Inc. alleging that certain software applications were passing personal user information to third-party advertisers without consent.[7] The cases are identified as: In re: Freeman et al v. Apple Inc et al, No. 5:10-cv-05881-HRL and In re: Lalo v. Apple Inc et al, No. 5:10-cv-05878-PSG, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, San Jose division. The complainants seek a ban on the "passing of user information without consent and monetary compensation". The Reuters report said that in April, Apple had agreed to amend its developer agreement to stop this from happening "except for information directly necessary for the functionality of the apps" however the lawsuit alleges that Apple has taken no steps to do this or enforce it "in any meaningful way due to criticism from advertising networks."[7]

The Associated Press reported a pending congressional inquiry into the matter, with United States Congress members stating that commercial storage and usage of location information without a consumer's express consent is illegal under current law, but Apple defended its use of customer tracking in a letter released May 9, 2011 by the House of Representatives.[8][9] NPR's senior director of technology published an article examining the data collected by his own iPhone, showing examples of the data collected and maps correlating the data.[10] Separately, digital forensics researchers reported they regularly use the data collected in working with law enforcement officials investigating crimes and have been doing so since at least mid-2010.[11] In contrast with earlier statements, Apple revealed in a hearing with the US Senate Judiciary Committee that a "software bug" caused iPhones to continue to send anonymous location data to the company's servers, even when location services on the device were turned off.[12]

iTunes price-switching class action

In June 2009, complainants filed the class action suit Owens v. Apple, Inc. against Apple, Inc. seeking to certify a nationwide class of individuals who purchased iTunes gift cards. The complaint alleges that Apple wrongfully marketed, distributed and sold iTunes gift cards and songs through its online iTunes store, while representing to consumers that they could use the gift cards to purchase songs for $.99 a song, and then after such gift cards were purchased, raised the price on certain songs to $1.29 on April 7, 2009. Complainants allege Apple's conduct constitutes breach of contract, violates the state consumer fraud statute, and violates consumer protection statutes of other states. Plaintiffs seek a remedy of $.30 refund for each song that Plaintiffs and other class members purchased using a $.99 iTunes card for which they were charged $1.29, plus their attorneys' fees and costs.[13] Apple sought to dismiss the suit but lost its motion in December 2009.[13]

Unfair trade practice

Resellers v. Apple

In 2004, independent Apple resellers filed a lawsuit against the company alleging misleading advertising practices and unfair business practices were harming sales while boosting company owned Apple outlets.[14] The lawsuit claimed that Apple had favored Apple stores by providing significant discounts that were unavailable to independent dealers. The complaint further accused the corporation of breach of contract, false advertising, fraud, trade libel, defamation, and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. As of 2006, Apple had reached settlements with all of the plaintiffs, including the bankruptcy trustee for one reseller that failed. The former principal of that company has appealed the bankruptcy court's approval of the settlement.[15]


Libel dispute with Carl Sagan

In 1994, engineers at Apple Computer code-named the mid-level Power Macintosh 7100 "Carl Sagan" after the popular astronomer in the hope that Apple would make "billions and billions" with the sale of the PowerMac 7100.[16] The name was only used internally, but Sagan was concerned that it would become a product endorsement and sent Apple a cease and desist letter.[17] Apple complied, but engineers retaliated by changing the internal codename to "BHA" for "Butt-Head Astronomer".[18][19] Sagan then sued Apple for libel, a form of defamation, in federal court. The court granted Apple's motion to dismiss Sagan's claims and opined in dicta that a reader aware of the context would understand Apple was "clearly attempting to retaliate in a humorous and satirical way", and that "It strains reason to conclude that Defendant was attempting to criticize Plaintiff's reputation or competency as an astronomer. One does not seriously attack the expertise of a scientist using the undefined phrase 'butt-head'."[18][20] Sagan then sued for Apple's original use of his name and likeness, but again lost.[21] Sagan appealed the ruling.[21] In November 1995, an out of court settlement was reached and Apple's office of trademarks and patents released a conciliatory statement that "Apple has always had great respect for Dr. Sagan. It was never Apple's intention to cause Dr. Sagan or his family any embarrassment or concern."[22]

Intellectual property


Trademark disputes with Apple Corps

In 1978, Apple Corps (The Beatles-founded record label and holding company) filed suit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The suit settled in 1981 with an undisclosed amount being paid to Apple Corps, later revealed to be US$80,000.[23] As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music business. In 1991, after the introduction of the Apple IIgs, a computer with an Ensoniq music synthesizer chip, which Apple Corps alleged to be in violation, another settlement of around US$26.5 million was reached, and Apple Computer agreed that it would not package, sell or distribute physical music materials.[24]

In September 2003, Apple Computer was sued by Apple Corps again, this time for introducing iTunes and the iPod which Apple Corps believed was a violation of the previous agreement by Apple not to distribute music. The trial opened on March 29, 2006 in the UK.[25] Judgement was issued in favor of Apple Computer on May 8, 2006.[26][27] "I find no breach of the trademark agreement has been demonstrated," the presiding Justice Mann said.[28][29]

On February 5, 2007, Apple Inc. and Apple Corps announced a settlement of their trademark dispute under which Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to “Apple” and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. The settlement ends the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes. The settlement includes terms that are confidential.[30]

Trademark dispute over

In July 1998, Abdul Traya registered the domain name, two months before Apple announced the iMac, in an attempt to draw attention to the web-hosting business he was running out of his parents' basement. A note on his site stated that his plan was to "generate traffic to our servers and try to put the domain to sale. [sic]"[31] After a legal dispute that lasted until April 1999, Traya and Apple settled out of court with Apple paying legal fees and giving Traya a "token payment" in exchange for the domain name.[32]

Trademark dispute over

The iTunes case was important because it turned around prior decisions by awarding a domain name to a subsequent registrant (Apple), rather than to the prior registrant (Cohen). (The full text of the following decision, including the full history of the use of the domain, is available at In November 2000, Benjamin Cohen of CyberBritain registered the domain name The domain was initially pointed to, then to and then inoperative for some time. Apple applied for a UK trademark for iTunes on October 23, 2000, and this was granted on March 23, 2001. Apple launched its popular iTunes music store service in the UK in 2004. Once they had done this, Cohen reactivated the domain name, which was then for a while redirected to iTunes' then-biggest rival, Napster. The domain name then forwarded to CyberBritain's cash back/rewards website. In 2005, Apple took the matter to the Dispute Resolution Service operated by .uk domain name registry Nominet UK (the DRS), stating that they had rights in the name "iTunes" and that the use of the domain name by Cohen's company was abusive (these being the two tests under the DRS rules). The dispute was not resolved at the free mediation stage and Apple paid for an independent expert to decide the case, who decided in Apple's favor in the dispute. Cohen immediately launched a media offensive stating that the DRS was biased towards large businesses and made frequent threats of lawsuits against Nominet.[33]

Cohen then stated that the DRS was unfair for a number of reasons and stated that he would take Nominet to the High Court via judicial review. Nominet said that he should appeal the case via the appeal process in the DRS. Cohen refused to do this, and after several months did issue proceedings.[34] The judge at first instance rejected his case noting that Cohen's company, Cyberbritain Group Ltd, should have used the appeal process which forms part of Nominet's domain resolution service, and Cohen's company asked for a rehearing. As that case progressed, the interim domain name was transferred to Apple in accordance with the expert's decision and it now points to the music site. In November 2005, Cohen dropped all legal action against Apple.[35]

iPhone trademark

On January 10, 2007, Cisco Systems filed a lawsuit against Apple, standing that Apple's iPhone infringed on their iPhone trademark. The two companies were in negotiation to allow Apple the rights to use the name, although the meetings came to standstill when Cisco pushed for the two products to be interoperable. Cisco has alleged that Apple subsequently created a front company to try to acquire the rights another way. Following the public unveiling of the iPhone at the 2007 Macworld Expo, Cisco filed the lawsuit. Apple claimed that there will be no confusion between the two products, and that their iPhone is the first cell phone with such a name, Cisco's "iPhone" being a VoIP phone.[36] On February 21, 2007, Cisco and Apple announced an agreement under which both companies would be allowed to use the iPhone name worldwide.[37]

Trademark dispute with New York City over an apple-shaped mark

In January 2008, Apple filed an opposition with the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) against New York City's (NYC) trademark application for the "Big Apple" logo for NYC's GreeNYC initiative.[38] NYC originally filed for its trademark: "a stylized apple design" for "Education services, namely, providing public service announcements on policies and practices of the City of New York in the field of environmentally sustainable growth" on May 14, 2007, and then amended its application on Jun 27, 2007.[39] The TTAB's Notice of Publication was published September 18, 2007, and then Apple filed an opposition with the TTAB the following January, claiming a likelihood of confusion.[40] On June 26, 2008, NYC filed a motion to amend its application to delete the leaf element from its design, leaving the stem, and the TTAB dismissed the Apple's opposition and counterclaims in accordance with the parties' stipulation on July 22, 2008.[41] As of February 23, 2010, NYC's trademark application is pending.[42]

Trademark dispute with the Victoria School of Business and Technology

In September 2008, Apple sent a cease and desist letter to the Victoria School of Business and Technology in Saanich, British Columbia, claiming the school's logo infringed upon Apple’s rights. Apple also claimed that the school's logo falsely suggested Apple had authorized the school's activities.[43] The logo in question featured the outline of an apple and a leaf, however, its design incorporated a mountain and had three bumps on top instead of the two used by Apple, additionally, there was no bite out of the school's apple.[44] In April 2011, the Victoria School of Business and Technology reported it had settled its 3-year dispute with Apple, was launching a new logo under a new name, Q College, and was expanding its operations.[45]

In October 2009, Apple disputed a trademark application by Woolworths Limited in Australia over its new supermarket logo,[46] a stylised green "W", similar in shape to an apple.[47][48] Apple reportedly took objection to the breadth of Woolworths' application, which would allow it to brand products, including consumer electronics, with the logo.

Apple v. DOPi

In March 2010, an Australian Trademarks tribunal denied Apple's attempt to prevent a small company from trademarking the name DOPi for use on its laptop bags and cases for Apple products. Apple argued that the DOPi name - which is iPod spelled backwards - is too similar to its own product's name, the iPod.[49] The order effectively meant that Apple can no longer have exclusive claim to the letter 'i'.[50]

Apple v. "App Store" dispute

In 2011 Apple filed suit against, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition over Amazon's use of the "App Store" phrase relating to Amazon's "Amazon Appstore Developer Portal" and Amazon's alleged other similar uses of the phrase.[51] Reuters reported that in the case Microsoft is opposing Apple's attempted registration of the phrase as a trademark, and that part of the matter is currently before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.[52] In June 2011, U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who is presiding over Apple's case against Amazon, said she'll "probably" deny Apple's motion that seeks to bar the Web retailer from using the "App Store" name.[53][54][55]

Trade secret

Apple v. Does

In November 2004, three popular weblog sites that feature Apple rumors publicly revealed information about two unreleased Apple products, the Mac mini and an as yet unreleased product code-named Asteroid, also known as Project Q97. Two sites, Apple Insider and Power Page were subpoenaed for information to identify their confidential sources (a third site, Think Secret, was also subpoenaed but did no original reporting on the case, and thus had no sources to reveal). The suit raised the problem of bloggers, and whether they hold the same protection that journalists do. In February 2005, it was decided by a trial court in California that the website operators do not have the same shield law protection as do other journalists. The journalists appealed, and in May 2006, the California Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's decision, ruling that activities in question are covered by the shield law. The court adamantly chastized Apple's litigiousness by remarking:

... the discovery process is intended as a device to facilitate adjudication, not as an end in itself. To accept Apple’s position on the present point would empower betrayed employers to clothe themselves with the subpoena power merely by suing fictitious defendants, and then to use that power solely to identify treacherous employees for purposes of discipline, all without any intent of pursuing the underlying case to judgment. An employer pursuing such an objective might prefer not to join any defendants lest it expose itself to negative consequences up to and including a countersuit for malicious prosecution or abuse of process. Our sympathy for employers in such a position cannot blind us to the gross impropriety of using the courts and their powers of compulsory process as a tool and adjunct of an employer’s personnel department.[56]

Apple v. Think Secret

Apple sued Think Secret's parent company, the dePlume Organization LLC, and Think Secret's editor on January 4, 2005, alleging misappropriation of trade secrets with regard to Think Secret's stories concerning a "headless iMac" and new version of iWork.[57] dePlume filed a motion to dismiss the case in response, based on First Amendment grounds under California's state Anti-SLAPP statute, a law designed to dispense with meritless legal claims attempting to silence valid exercises of freedom of speech.[58]


Apple v. Franklin

In 1982, Apple filed a lawsuit against Franklin Computer Corp., alleging that Franklin's ACE 100 personal computer used illegal copies of the Apple II's operating system and ROM. Decided in Franklin's favor but reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Apple v. Franklin established the fundamental basis of copyright of computer software, even if it was provided only as object code or in firmware.[59]

Object code cases and conflicts of law

Apple's litigation over object code (see also object file) was seminal in the development of contemporary copyright law because the company's object code cases brought different results in different courts. In the 1980s, Apple litigated two now-famous copyright cases with central issues that included the question of whether object code (as contrasted with source code) of a computer program is subject to copyright laws. A third case not involving Apple but involving the Apple decisions followed in New Zealand. The specific cases involved were Computer Edge Pty. Ltd. v Apple Computer Inc. (1986, Australia),[60] Apple Computer Inc. v Mackintosh Computers Ltd. (1987, Canada),[61] and IBM v. Computer Imports Ltd. (1989, New Zealand).[62]

In the Computer Edge case, the Australian court decided against the then-prevailing opinions in other courts (the UK, Canada, South Africa, and the US) and ruled object code was not copyrightable;[63] while the Supreme Court of Canada in Apple v. Mackintosh reversed its earlier decisions and ruled that because object code was a translation of source code and embodied in a silicon chip, it was therefore a translation of an original literary work expressed in a material form and unauthorized reproduction of the object code was therefore an infringement of copyright. The Canadian court opined that programs within ROM silicon chips are protected under the Copyright Act of Canada, and the conversion from the source code into object code is a form of translation. It further held that such translation does not include the expression of an idea in another form, but rather only applies to the expression of an idea in another language, and that a translation has a one-to-one correspondence between works that are expressed in two different languages.

In these conflict of laws cases, Apple met with conflicting international judicial opinions: an Australian court decision conflicted with a Canadian court decision on the copyrightability of object code. The New Zealand High Court then considered these prior decisions and sided with the Canadian decision in ruling that although object code is not an original literary work in its own right, it is a reproduction of source code in material form and therefore an infringement of copyright takes place if it is copied without the authorization of the copyright owner. These legal conflicts affected not only Apple but all other software companies, and remained unresolved until the creation of an international legal regime embodied in further changes to national copyright laws, which ultimately made object code subject to copyright law.[64]

These revisions to copyright law in favor of including object code are still controversial,[65] and form the technical underpinnings for the legal notion of computer trespass and the following development of anti-hacking law-making such as the Patriot Act and such as are defined by the Convention on Cybercrime.

Apple v. Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard

In 1988, after the introduction of Windows 2.0, Apple filed a lawsuit against Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard alleging that Microsoft Windows and HP's NewWave violated Apple's copyrights in the Macintosh user interface. Cited, among other things, was the use of overlapping and resizable windows in Windows 2.0. The case was one of the significant "look and feel" copyright lawsuits of the 1980s. After several years in court, Apple's claims against Microsoft were dismissed, primarily due to a license John Sculley had negotiated with Bill Gates for Windows 1.0. The decision was upheld on appeal in 1994, but legal disputes on this topic were still ongoing until 1997, when the two companies came to a wide-ranging agreement that included Microsoft buying non-voting Apple stocks.[66][67]

OdioWorks v. Apple

The Odioworks case[68] was notable for being one of the first high-profile cases illustrating Apple's attempts to employ federal police power in its litigation practices by invoking the anti-circumvention provisions of of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) as a means of shielding its intellectual property from reverse engineering.[69] In November 2008, Apple sent a cease and desist letter to BluWiki, a non-commercial wiki provider,[70] alleging BluWiki infringed Apple's copyrights in publishing a discussion of how to make the latest iPods inter-operate with other software, and that by so doing, violated the DMCA.[71] On April 27, 2009, Odioworks (the operators of BluWiki), backed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, defensively sued Apple seeking a declaration of non-infringement and non-circumvention.[72] On July 8, 2009, Apple ceased claiming infringement, stating it was "withdrawing [Apple's] takedown notifications", and that "Apple no longer has, nor will it have in the future, any objection to the publication of the itunesDB Pages which are the subject of the OdioWorks complaint."[73] After Apple withdrew its complaint and cited code obsolescence as a contributing factor in its decision to withdraw, BluWiki then republished its discussion of the issue.[74] The EFF noted, "While we are glad that Apple retracted its baseless legal threats, we are disappointed that it only came after 7 months of censorship and a lawsuit."[75]

Trade dress

GEM "look and feel" suit

The design of the GEM 1.1 desktop was a copy of the Mac OS.

Apple forced Digital Research to alter basic components in its Graphical Environment Manager ("GEM"), almost a direct copy of the Macintosh's "look and feel" with a copyright infringement suit. Features removed from GEM as a result of the lawsuit included drive icons on the desktop, movable and resizable windows in the file manager, shading in the title bars, and window open/close animations. In addition, visual elements including the scrollbar thumbs and the window close button were changed to be less similar to those in the Mac OS.[76]

Apple v. eMachines

In 1999, Apple successfully sued eMachines, whose eOne too closely resembled the then-new iMac's trade dress.[77][78] The eOne was taken off the market, resulting in eMachines' losing the ability to sell the eOne as intended. In eMachines' EDGAR statement for May 1, 2001, eMachines stated that its "net loss for the first quarter of 2001 was $31.1 million, or $0.21 per share, compared to a loss of $11.9 million, or $0.13 per share, in the first quarter of 2000", but that these results "reflect the substantial discounts and incentives that we gave to retailers to enable liquidation of product inventories."[79][80][81]

Patent infringement

Creative Technology patent dispute

On May 16, 2006, Creative Technology sued Apple for alleged infringement of a Zen patent in the United States. Also, the Singapore-based company filed a trade complaint with a United States trade agency against Apple Computer, and a lawsuit in California alleging that Apple had infringed its patent. Creative asked for a court injunction to block the import and sale of Apple's iPod and iPod nano in the United States. It also sought undisclosed damages for past sales. Apple, in return, filed suit against Creative on much the same grounds.[82][83][84]

On August 23, 2006, Apple settled with Creative Technology for US$100 million, effectively ending the patent dispute and 5 other pending lawsuits between the two companies. In return, Creative secured an agreement to participate in the "Made for iPod" program by producing accessories for the iPod.[85]

Typhoon Touch Technologies touch screen patents

In June 2008, Apple was named among others as a defendant in a suit alleging patent infringement in portable touch screen technology. The suit was important for illustrating the vagaries of litigating patent licensing and royalty collection issues in the commercial exploitation of intellectual property rights. The plaintiff, Typhoon Touch Technologies, acquired two pre-existing patents, (filed in 1993 and 1994 and issued in 1995 and 1997), in mid-2007 for $350,000 plus a percentage of collected licensing fees.[86] The patents had languished for some time and were not being policed, however Typhoon sought to begin enforcement by bringing suit against infringers. Shortly after Typhoon acquired the patents, it began to sue exploiters of the technology who had not paid licensing fees. Typhoon was successful in its patent infringement suits against some small companies, and then expanded its litigation to go after larger companies. Typhoon alleged that Apple and others used its patented technology inventions without permission. The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Tyler Division, Case No. 6:07-cv-546,[87] and identified the technology as U.S. Patent No. 5,379,057: "Portable Computer with Touch Screen and Computer System Employing Same," and U.S. Patent No. 5,675,362: "Portable Computer with Touch Screen and Computing System Employing Same". Typhoon originally filed the suit in December 2007 against Dell after settling with some smaller companies, but in mid-2008 amended its complaint to add Apple,[88] Fujitsu, Toshiba, Lenovo, Panasonic, HTC, Palm, Samsung, Nokia, and LG.[89][90] In 2010, Apple settled with Typhoon for an undisclosed amount and was then dismissed from the litigation as of September 2010.[91] Ultimately, Typhoon could not prevail against patent defense arguments of prior art and obviousness, and earned itself infamy as a patent troll.[92] Typhoon ceased doing business in 2008 after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission suspended its trading in a fraud investigation.[93][94]

Apple v. HTC

Apple Inc. filed a patent infringement suit against HTC on 2 March 2010 at the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, and also filed a complaint against HTC under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (as amended) at United States International Trade Commission, Washington, D.C.[95] The suit involves 20 alleged patent infringements relating to the iPhone's user interface, underlying architecture and hardware.[96] "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours".[97]

Kodak v. Apple

Kodak sued Apple Inc. and Research In Motion (RIM) in January 2010, filing two lawsuits against Apple and a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission against both Apple and RIM, alleging Apple's and RIM's phones infringe on a Kodak digital imaging technology, after the companies refused to pay patent royalties on Kodak's digital camera technology.[98][99] Kodak seeks an injunction against further imports into the U.S. of Apple's iPhone and RIM's BlackBerry.[100]

Apple v. Samsung: Android phones and tablets

In the spring of 2011, Apple and Samsung began to engage in what became known as the mobile device patent wars: extensive litigation in fierce competition in the global market for consumer mobile communications. By August 2011, Apple and Samsung were carrying out their legal battles in 19 ongoing lawsuits in 12 courts in nine countries on four continents; by October, the fight expanded to 10 countries.[101][102]

Apple sued Samsung, one of its component suppliers, in a 38-page legal complaint on April 15, 2011 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that several of Samsung’s Android phones and tablets, including the Nexus S, Epic 4G, Galaxy S 4G, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, infringed on Apple’s intellectual property: its patents, trademarks, user interface and style.[103] Apple's complaint included specific claims for patent infringement, federal false designation of origin and unfair competition, federal trademark infringement, state unfair competition, common law trademark infringement, and unjust enrichment.[104] Apple's purported evidence submitted to the court included side-by-side image comparisons of Apple iPhone 3GS and Galaxy S i9000 to illustrate the alleged similarities in packaging and icons for apps. The images were later found to have been tampered with in order to make the dimensions and features of the two differing products seem more similar.[105] [106] [107][108] [103] [109] [110] [111] [112] [113]

Samsung counter-sued Apple on April 22, 2011, filing federal complaints in courts in Seoul, Tokyo and Mannheim, Germany, alleging Apple infringed Samsung's patents related to mobile-communications technologies.[114] A German court (the Landgericht Düsseldorf) in August 2011 granted Apple's request for an EU-wide preliminary injunction barring Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab v10.1 device on the grounds Samsung's product infringed on two of Apple's interface patents. After Samsung's allegations of evidence tampering were heard, the court rescinded the EU-wide injunction and granted Apple a lesser injunction that only applied to the German market.[115][116] In the same time period and in similar cases of related legal strategy, Apple filed contemporaneous suits against Motorola with regard to the Xoom and against a German consumer electronics reseller named JAY-tech in the same German court, both for design infringement claims. Apple did not state the specific relief it sought in its complaints except for the preliminary injunctions, and is expected to amend its filings after the injunctions are granted.[117]

Shortly after the release of the iPhone 4S, Samsung filed motions for injunctions in courts in Paris and Milan to block further Apple iPhone sales in France and Italy, claiming the iPhone infringed on two separate patents of the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access standard.[118][119][120] Samsung reportedly singled out the French and Italian markets as key electronic communications markets in Europe, and by filing suit in a different court, avoided going back to the German court where it had lost a round earlier in its battle with Apple.[121] In late October 2011, the civil court in The Hague rejected Samsung's infringement arguments and denied Samsung's motion made there; a short time later an Australian federal court granted Apple's request for an injunction against Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1.[122][123] Samsung agreed to an expedited appeal of the Australian decision in the hope that if it won its appeal before Christmas, it might salvage holiday sales that it would otherwise lose.[102]


Apple Inc. v. Psystar Corporation

On July 3, 2008, Apple Inc. filed a lawsuit against Psystar Corporation[124] alleging the computer company sold Intel-based systems with Mac OS X pre-installed. This act violated trademark, copyright, and software licensing laws, which is not in accordance with Apple's shrink wrap license. The shrink wrap license requires that Mac OS X only be installed on Apple-brand computers.[125]

Corporate espionage and data theft

Apple v. Microsoft, Intel, and San Francisco Canyon Company

In 1995, Apple added Microsoft and Intel to an existing lawsuit against the San Francisco Canyon Company, alleging that Microsoft and Intel knowingly used the software company to aid them in stealing several thousand lines of Apple's QuickTime code in an effort to improve the performance of Video for Windows.[126][127][128][129] After a threat to withdraw support for the Macintosh edition of Microsoft Office,[130][131] this lawsuit was ultimately settled in 1997, along with all lingering issues from the "Look & Feel" lawsuit. Apple agreed to make Internet Explorer the default browser over Netscape, and Microsoft agreed to continue developing Office and other software for the Mac for the next five years, and purchase US$150 million of non-voting Apple stock.[66][67]


  1. ^ U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board search for 'Apple Inc.'.
  2. ^ In re Apple iPod iTunes Antitrust Litig., No. C 05-00037 JW, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107127, N.D. Cal. Dec. 22, 2008.
  3. ^ MacLean, Pamela, and Gullo, Karen, Apple’s Jobs Must Answer Questions in ITunes Antitrust Suit, Bloomberg, 2011-03-22.
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