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

An anonymous reader writes with this bit of trademark absurdity from "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 crazyjj ( 2598719 ) * on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:06PM (#41981423)

    Yes, your garden looks very nice at first glance. But I'll stay out here, thanks.

    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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:11PM (#41981471)

    Foreign words are valid trademarks in all countries I've bothered to check, so that doesn't surprise me, at least for an international store like Apple's. Also, you *can* trademark a word to refer to this particular game. Nobody says you can't make a game that has you flip pictures and match them up as you remember where which one is. You just can't call it just 'Memory'. Come up with your own name, and you're golden. But of course then you can't mooch off their popularity by having people who look for 'Memory' find you, you need to do your own marketing.

  • Overreaching? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adrian Lopez ( 2615 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:23PM (#41981655) Homepage

    Does this apply to all apps or just games? If it's just games then the claim may be indeed be legitimate (or not), but if it's all apps then it's certainly a case of overreaching by the trademark holder (or else an overreaction by Apple).

    The most ridiculous element is the ban on the use of "memory" as a keyword. Trademark law was never intended to forbid others from naming competitors' products or from using trademarked words in their descriptive sense ("this game will enhance your memory and give you super-strength!").

  • by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:38PM (#41981847)

    You appeal to the courts if you think their claim is spurious and if you win you resubmit your app. The procedure for fighting the claim is no different than if you weren't selling through someone's store and you were threatened with a lawsuit over a trademark claim against your product.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:39PM (#41981859) Homepage

    Isn't there something about trademarks and common words not being eligible? Microsoft *almost* lost their Lindows case in a big way because of that. Anyone remember this case? Lindows was being sued by Microsoft, and Lindows was putting forth the argument that Microsoft is not entitled to the name "Windows" as a trademark. Microsoft paid Lindows to change their name and to dropped the case entirely.

    That said, Apple is not a court. They are a company which is exposed to legal action by the holder of the trademark "Memory." Rather than take on that challenge for the greater good (something which I am sure Google would do) Apple has decided in favor of avoiding additional legal problems. It is their right to do so.

    So, what should these small apps people do? Well, turns out, there is very little they can do. They can (a) license the use of the name Memory for their game (not something I imagine would be profitabe or even allowed) or (b) file a pre-emptive suit for the right to use the name or possibly (c) file a re-examination request with the trademark offices to see if it can get revoked. Of these, I would push in favor of (c) but even then, if successful, unless it were a big news story, Apple would likely ignore your assertion that "they no longer have the rights to that name, so please allow my app into your store."

  • by Desler ( 1608317 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:45PM (#41981955)

    Due process does not apply here. Due process is a requirement on the State to respect the accuser's rights. Apple is not bound by due process.

  • by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @01:57PM (#41982131) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but I very much doubt they have a history of defending the word "memory" in a product that does not compete with them, say... a "free memory" tool. If I had a game called memory, they might have a case. There are lots of other factors to consider depending on what your case might be. I am not a lawyer but I do have enough experience [] with trademark law to win a case, and i'm 99.9% sure that in this particular case, Ravensburger wouldn't stand a chance.
  • by Dishevel ( 1105119 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:21PM (#41983215)

    They would have to go in front of a judge first.
    That is due process. This is not.

  • by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Wednesday November 14, 2012 @03:59PM (#41983663) Homepage Journal
    I've had that happen before. It's annoying, but not a huge deal. You simply find a new host, transfer your files and databases, and point your domain to the new nameservers. I've also had somebody try a trademark claim on a domain of mine. You get to defend against that (and I did, and I won). I'd wager doing that is a lot easier than trying to get Apple to change a decision they've made becuase of their risk management policies. It's simply not in their interests to judge whether legal claims have merit. They can't just get any old intern to do that. They have to pay legal staff, which doesn't come cheap.

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.