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Apple Orders Memory Game Developers To Stop Using 'Memory' In Names 409

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the slashdot-trademarks-news dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this bit of trademark absurdity from geek.com: "Ravensburger is a German gaming company that specializes in jigsaw puzzles, but has also expanded into other areas such as children's books and games. The company owns the trademark to a board game called 'Memory' and has demanded Apple stop offering apps that have the word 'memory' in their title or as a keyword associated with an app. It may seem ludicrous such a common word can be trademarked, but apparently this is a valid claim as Apple is now serving notices to app developers. The choice an infringing app developer has is to either rename their app or remove it from the App Store."
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Apple Orders Memory Game Developers To Stop Using 'Memory' In Names

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:10PM (#41981455)
    You couldn't even be bothered to RTFS, could you? This is about a legal claim against Apple, it has nothing to do with them operating a walled garden (though I agree this is a bad thing).
  • by Cinder6 (894572) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:20PM (#41981603)

    1. Apple isn't banning the apps, they're telling the developers they have to rename them.
    2. This isn't some arbitrary decision by Apple (unlike some other cases), this is because another company owns the trademark to "memory" in the context of games and is threatening to sue Apple if they don't comply with the order to have the apps' names changed.

  • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor f . n et> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:26PM (#41981691)

    Sometimes a central authority is a good thing. But no-fucking-body is telling me what software I can or can't download, or banning me from downloading certain titles over some stupid shit like this. And this is just a mild example of what they *could* do if they wanted.

    Well, the developer (ANY developer, mind you) can get sued for trademark infringement, so even your "open access" rules can get curtailed. Yes, if you make a "memory" game, expect to receive some cease-and-desist soon, regardless if it's walled, garden, open-source, whatever.

    And Apple has so far let users keep their "removed" apps. I think even iCloud keeps a copy if you happen to not have a backed up copy.

    Nope, it's nothing to do with a walled garden (which actually doesn't affect users so much as developers since removed apps still can be used by existing uesrs). This affects *ALL* developers.

  • Re:Prior Art... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:35PM (#41981807) Homepage

    Couldn't a Dictionary making company claim Prior Art?

    Probably not:
    1. This isn't a patent, it's a trademark.
    2. Trademarks are allowed to be common names so long as the name doesn't directly relate to the product being sold. For instance, "apple" can be trademarked for computing equipment, but not for fruit.

    However, if the name "Memory" appears in any book of common card games as an alternate name of the game "Concentration" prior to the introduction of Hasbro's "Memory", then they're likely to be in trouble.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:39PM (#41981863)

    Its not a copyright. Its a trademark.

    Seriously, is anyone on Slashdot capable of getting even the basics right?

  • by Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:40PM (#41981885)

    First off: Apple is only having people remove the apps in countries where the copyright is valid.

    As an affected developer (actually from 3 years ago), I can tell you that it is a worldwide removal.

  • by tepples (727027) <{tepples} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:41PM (#41981893) Homepage Journal
    Ravensburger's US licensee would win. And that happens to be Hasbro.
  • by Psyborgue (699890) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:44PM (#41981949) Homepage Journal
    If I win I resubmit my app? Is that a serious response. What do I do in the mean time while i'm losing profit. The difference between your solution and a sane one is that in a sane world you're not automatically guilty and get to defend yourself in court before action is taken against you. The procedure may be the same (sort of), but the timing here is what matters.
  • by mrthoughtful (466814) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:00PM (#41982175) Journal

    We are among the developers who have had to change a memory game on the app store due to this widespread trademark infringement claim.
    Generics only apply to trademark law in the USA. We were bitter about the change - the use of the phrase "memory game" -isn't- trademarked AFAIK, and it seems trite to look at a single word embedded within a much longer title.

    Anyhow, our feeling was that this entire fiasco will probably backfire with bad press. We really wanted to change the game only in those territories which are trademarked, but that's not so easy with the current App store model.

    For your information, here are the territories at issue:

    Armenia, Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil,Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Equador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Latvia,Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine and Venezuela.

    We are based in the UK and it made no difference to the takedown notice.

  • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:20PM (#41982459) Journal

    "It's harder for me to commit a crime so I don't like it" is the argument here. What's happening is there's a trademark claim, and people are being made to comply. It's no different than if you marketed an app called "Photoshop Pro" and Adobe shit all over your party, except people are so used to the concept of Tetris and, in this case, Memory that they find it bizarre and offensive that somebody actually owns these things. Somebody invented it, but all people see is that they can't remember when it was novel, so it must be free.

    Trademark law is really strange. If you don't protect your trademark, you lose it. If Ravensberger makes an iOS app for the game of Memory, everyone searching for it will get all these clones, superior or inferior, by the same name. They'll play those and ignore Ravensberger's Memory. The market is then unmarketable. Thus Ravensberger has a strong desire to protect their trademark to Memory, since if they lose it and another market opens up and they want to capitalize on it then they can't because they can't defend their trademark because it has become generic. Thus they must petition to stop these things from using their trademark.

    This is the same reason that Adobe doesn't like when someone claims they "used GIMP to photoshop" something: you did NOT photoshop that, Photoshop was not involved, stop saying these untrue things, you are creating brand confusion. It's fair game to say something is "like Photoshop," but not that it IS Photoshop or has been adjusted via Photoshop if Photoshop was not involved.

    But all people want to see is, "Hey, how can you do that?" and they use weird arguments like "You' can't just trademark a generic word!" UPS has a trademark on the color Brown; both American Express and IBM have trademarks on the color Blue. Thing is UPS only has a trademark on using the color brown as a major marketing identifier for a shipping company: you cannot make a brown DHL, it has to be yellow or something. If FedEx reimaged to primarily earth tones, UPS would have a valid suit against them. If Chicago Suits took up the color brown as their major marketing factor--brown slacks, brown shoes, brown jackets, business and business casual wear--UPS has absolutely no standing to sue them because they're not a god damn shipping company and the trademark on Brown doesn't apply. Ravenberger has a trademark on a board game called Memory, and if you make a Memory toothbrush that doesn't reference the board game in any way then you're not infringing on their trade.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @02:53PM (#41982881) Homepage Journal

    Came here to say this too. Check "Allow Unknown Sources" in Settings, open .apk, install app. Perfectly allowable within the default Android setup, and yes, this is the setup that 95% of carriers use. (I've heard of some carriers taking away the Unknown Sources checkbox, but to my knowledge it's very uncommon.)

  • by ZiakII (829432) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:07PM (#41983051)
    Came here to say this too. Check "Allow Unknown Sources" in Settings, open .apk, install app. Perfectly allowable within the default Android setup, and yes, this is the setup that 95% of carriers use. (I've heard of some carriers taking away the Unknown Sources checkbox, but to my knowledge it's very uncommon.)

    AT&T used to not allow that, but once people started trying to download Amazon's app store and got a ton of flak over it. AT&T quickly gave people the ability to do so.
  • by Psyborgue (699890) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:16PM (#41983157) Homepage Journal
    Depends on how you read the article. The article says "In total, there are thought to be more than 50 games this trademark will force to change names", but it also says "demanded Apple stop offering apps that have the word ‘memory’ in their title or as a keyword associated with an app". There is no indication this is limited to games alone, just geek.com's note that there are 50 games in the app store with "memory" in the title.

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