Japanese company Emonster k.k. filed a suit claiming that they had already invented the term “Animoji” back in 2014 and registered it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2015, reports The Recorder. The company’s owner, Enrique Bonansea, said in the complaint that he was already using the name to market an iOS app that featured moving emojis.
“This is a textbook case of willful, deliberate trademark infringement. With full awareness of plaintiffs’ Animoji mark, Apple decided to take the name and pretend to the world that ‘Animoji’ was original to Apple,” the complaint says.
The complaint further alleges that Apple was fully aware of their trademark, claiming that Apple offered to purchase the rights to the name. While that offer was rejected by Bonansea’s company, the complaint further alleges that Apple decided to make use of it anyway and made an attempt to cancel the trademark over a technicality over the company’s naming: The Animoji trademark was filed by “Emonster Inc.”, which while acting as a single commercial enterprise as Emonster k.k. otherwise did not exist when the trademark was filed.
Emonster’s Animoji app is available in Apple’s iOS store, costing $0.99 in the US. While it does contain animated emoji symbols, it differs from the iPhone X implementation that allows people to control the animation using their face. The complaint claims that the Animojii app has been in Apple’s store since 2014.
Emonster k.k. is demanding Apple cease and desist from using the term, along with awards for “ascertainable damages, costs, and attorney fees, including punitive damages.”
Apple did not immediately return CNET’s request for comment.