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Apple slapped with lawsuit over 'iAds' monicker

'Trampling the rights of others.' Again

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Another day, another lawsuit for Apple. This time Jobs & Company are being taken to task for naming the iPhone's new mobile-advertising platform "iAds" when that service mark is already owned by a Southern California media company.

Online ad firm Innovate Media Group of Costa Mesa, California, has filed suit in the US District Court of the Central District of California, charging that Apple has knowingly usurped their rights to the term iAds.

"It appears that Apple's strategy with respect to Innovate Media and the 'iAds' mark is just another sequence in a pattern of conduct by Apple, of ignoring and trampling the intellectual property rights of others," the suit reads.

It appears that Innovate Media may have a point. The US Patent and Trademak Office has five live listings for the term "iAds"; three are related to vehicle-test software and the other two — owned by the Innovate Media Group — are 3,515,183, for "Production of video and creation of visual effects and graphics for others for use on websites," and 3,515,184, for "Transmission of sound, video and information over the internet using video flash overlay technology". Both were filed on October 25, 2007 and registered on October 14, 2008, and both note a "first use in commerce" date of August 1, 2006.

Court documents claim that after Steve Jobs announced Apple's iAds program at the iPhone iOS 4's April 8 coming out party, Innovate Media contacted him and "informed him that Innovate Media had trademarked 'iAds' in 2008". The company also claims to have contacted Quattro Wireless, the mobile-ad group that Apple acquired this January. Neither, the suit says, have responded.

"As a result of Apple's refusal to acknowledge Innovate Media's 'iAds' marks, and blatant and willful infringement of those marks," the suit reads, "Innovate Media has been left with little choice but to file this lawsuit seeking injuntive relief, damages and other relief."

The suit also notes that such "blatant and willful infringment" is nothing new for Apple: "'iPhone,' 'iPad,' and even 'Apple' were all marks held by third parties, which Apple used without the owners' permission, and ultimately took over," the suit notes.

As The Reg reported last week, Apple entered into agreements with Cisco to use its "IOS" name for Cupertino's newly renamed mobile operating system, and with instant messaging outfit Facetime to transfer its rights to Cupertino so that Apple can dub its iPhone4–to–iPhone 4 videoconferencing system.

But Cisco had to take Apple to court over the iPhone name, which it owned, and Fujitsu and Apple reached a settlement over the name iPad, which Fujitsu owned, after announcing but before releasing the "magical and revolutionary" device.

Apparently Jobs didn't think that the Southern California internet ad firm, Innovate Media, was worth dealing with before he announced Apple's iAds program. Or maybe he thinks he's exempt due to that service-mark language about "video flash overlay technology". ®

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