Apple Prevails In Lawsuit Alleging Racially Diverse Emojis Were Copied
By Mikelle Leow, 18 Feb 2022
It’s a thumbs-up for Apple, which has convinced a California federal judge to throw out a copyright suit claiming it infringed copyrights for rolling out emoji variations in different skin tones.
Back in September 2020, a Texas-based company called Cub Club Investment sued Apple for replicating the multiracial emojis of the plaintiff’s iDiversicons app, which it said was the inventor of “the world’s first diverse emoji.”
Cub Club explained that iDiversicon’s founder Katrina Parrott was in touch with Apple representatives in 2014, the year after the app launched, to discuss a partnership, but the tech giant turned the offer down. The plaintiff added that Apple then created its own set of inclusive emojis in five new complexions, the same number of skin tones iDiversicons uses.
At the time of the original complaint, Cubs Club had more than 20 copyrights to its name and three pending patent applications, AppleInsider reports.
US District Judge Vince Chhabria tossed the case on Wednesday, tipping the scales over to the side of the Cupertino tech giant. The main rationale was that Cub Club didn’t provide evidence of Apple copying anything that could be protected.
Judge Chhabria added that even if the claims were true, the most Apple did was use “the idea” of diverse emojis. Ideas cannot be copyrighted; according to IPWatchdog, there needs to be an “identifiable manifestation of the idea” for it to be protected.
“There aren’t many ways that someone could implement this idea," Judge Chhabria concluded. “After all, there are only so many ways to draw a thumbs up.”
The judge could not agree with Cub Club’s argument because its copyrights were weak, and Apple’s versions looked reasonably different in their colors, shapes, and other details.
Chhabria is giving Cub Club another chance to amend its complaint but says the court is doubtful of the plaintiff being able to form a concrete stance.
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