Friday, May 22, 2009

Cartier files (and later withdraws) trademark lawsuit against Apple over “Fake Watch” iPhone App

Trademark litigation watchers are well aware of Cartier's aggressive protection of its “TANK” line of watches (created by Louis Cartier in 1917, who was supposedly inspired by the Renault tanks that Cartier saw during World War I). I previously wrote (link here) about one such lawsuit Cartier filed against Donna Karen.

So it probably came as no surprise when news came out today (reports here and here) that Cartier had filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Apple Inc. alleging that an iPhone app named Fake Watch infringed Cartier's trademark and trade dress rights associated with Cartier's Tank watches.  [Update: the complaint can be viewed here (HT: Marty Schwimmer)]

The Fake Watch app (made by a company named Digitopolis Co. and available for downloading on Apple's online iTunes store) displays the time using an image of "look-alike famous wristwatches" (one of which apparently looks like Cartier’s TANK watch).

Cartier claimed that Apple’s "use of Cartier's Tank mark and Cartier's trade dress and proprietary designs is likely to cause consumers to believe that Cartier's and defendant's goods originate from the same source."

But by the end of the day, reports surfaced that Apple had removed the app from iTunes and Cartier’s lawyer issued a statement that Cartier would be withdrawing the lawsuit (WSJ report here).

If only all trademark disputes could be settled this quickly.

[Update: Ron Coleman presents his thoughts about what is really going on behind the scenes with respect to this filed and later withdrawn complaint by Cartier.]

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