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Apple vs. the world - Apple’s definitive legal battles

Here you’ll find a list of some of the most important, influential, notable, and even downright silly legal battles that Apple has been involved in since first forming in 1976

Apple vs. the world - Apple’s definitive legal battles

With more than $100 billion in the bank, it's no surprise that Apple finds itself a target of lawsuits. Of course, Apple is no slouch itself when it comes to initiating litigation. Here’s a sampling of some of the most important, influential, notable, and even downright silly legal battles that Apple has been involved in since first forming in 1976.

Apple vs. Carl Sagan

In 1994, astronomer Carl Sagan sued Apple for using his name as an internal codename for the Power Mac 7100, a nod to his catchphrase and what they hoped to earn in the computer's sales: "billions and billions." Sagan lost, but when Apple changed the codename to "BHA", short for "butt-head astronomer", he sued again, this time for libel, and lost again. The Power Mac 7100, meanwhile, hardly earned Apple billions and billions.

Apple vs. NeXT

When he left Apple to form NeXT in 1985, Steve Jobs brought with him a number of key Apple employees. Apple subsequently sued NeXT, alleging that those employees would use Apple's inside information. Though the case never made it to trial, Jobs at the time noted that "it is hard to think that a $2 billion company with 4,300-plus people couldn't compete with six people in blue jeans."

Apple vs. Woolworths

In late 2009, Apple had a minor legal scuffle with Woolworths Limited, an Australian supermarket chain with a logo Apple claimed was too similar to its own. Today, Woolworths still uses the logo, so it's likely that Apple either ceded its ground or came to a settlement agreement.

Apple vs. eMachines

In 1999, Apple sued eMachines, alleging that its eOne PC infringed upon the iMac's trade dress. Indeed, the eOne sported the same translucent blue design as the original Bondi Blue iMac. EMachines soon agreed to stop producing the eOne PC as part of an out-of-court settlement reached later that year.

Apple vs. Apple Corps (aka The Beatles) Pt. 1

In 1978, Apple Corps - which was founded by The Beatles - sued Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The two parties settled in 1981, with Apple agreeing to never enter the music business. Apple Corps sued in 1989 over Apple's implementation of audio-recording capabilities in a number of Macs. The case settled in 1991 with Apple paying out $26.5 million.

Apple vs. Nokia

Nokia sued Apple in 2009, alleging that the iPhone infringed upon a number of wireless and GSM technologies. Apple soon countersued and the two companies reached a settlement agreement in June 2011. Apple agreed to pay an undisclosed royalty rate to Nokia for each iPhone sold, as well as royalties for previously sold iPhones.

Apple vs. software engineers everywhere

In April 2012, five software engineers brought suit against Apple, Google, Adobe and four other tech firms alleging that they engaged in anti-poaching agreements with each other, which serve to unfairly narrow their employment opportunities. The case is set for trial in June 2013.

Apple vs. Franklin Computer Corp.

In 1982, Apple sued Franklin Computer Corp. for its Apple II clone, whose ROM and operating system copied directly from Apple's own code. Franklin argued that code was not copyrightable. Ultimately, the US Court of Appeals decided in Apple's favour, ruling that computer software could be copyrighted.

Apple vs. Microsoft

Apple in 1988 sued Microsoft following the release of Windows 2.0, alleging that the Windows GUI was a blatant rip-off of the Mac’s user interface. Microsoft ultimately emerged victorious, which prompted an Apple appeal. The litigation finally came to an end in 1997, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple and secured a cross-licensing agreement with Microsoft.

Apple vs. a Polish grocery store

In September 2012, Apple went after a Polish grocery store claiming its domain name, A.pl, was too similar to Apple’s. Compounding matters was the fact that a subsidiary of A.pl had a logo resembling Apple's. As of December 2012, a.pl remains active and the logo in question is still in use.

Apple vs. ThinkSecret

Long-time Apple enthusiasts might remember that ThinkSecret used to be the go-to site when it came to Apple-related rumours and product leaks. Then Apple sued in 2005 alleging misappropriation of trade secrets, resulting in a 2007 settlement in which ThinkSecret agreed to stop publishing new stories.

Apple vs. Cisco

In January 2007, Steve Jobs shocked the world when he introduced the original iPhone. He also shocked executives at Cisco, which held the trademark to the term "iPhone.” Cisco sued Apple shortly thereafter and the two companies quickly came to an agreement to explore ways to collaborate more closely in the future.

Apple's iPod antitrust litigation

Back when purchased music on iTunes was draped in DRM and playable only on Apple hardware, the company was hit with a class-action suit claiming violations of US antitrust laws. Though the issue is now moot, the case is still working its way through the legal system.

Apple vs. Creative Technology

This was the lawsuit that reportedly motivated Steve Jobs and Apple to exhaustively patent all aspects of the iPhone. In 1996, Creative Technologies sued Apple alleging that the iPod infringed upon Creative's patent for a menu structure on an MP3 player. In a settlement, Apple was forced to pay Creative $100 million.

Apple & AT&T Mobility Antitrust Litigation

In 2008, customers filed a class-action suit claiming Apple and AT&T had an illegal monopoly because they couldn't use the device on other carriers' networks after their two-year AT&T contracts expired. The case was granted class-action status in 2010 and remains pending in the appellate court.

Apple vs. 16-year-old owner of 'AppleiMac.com'

In 1999, Apple's legal team contacted a 16-year-old from Canada named Abdul Traya who registered the AppleiMac.com domain name with the express purpose of driving traffic to his website and potentially selling the domain for a profit. Traya actually secured a settlement deal in which Apple agreed to pay all of his legal fees. Since then, Apple has proven to be much more successful against cyber squatters.

Apple vs. HTC

Apple sued HTC in 2010 for allegedly violating 20 patents pertaining to the iPhone's user interface, hardware and architecture. At the time, Steve Jobs said: "We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We've decided to do something about it." The two companies settled in November 2012, putting an end to at least one Android-based litigation.

Apple vs. Sector labs

Apple sure likes to protect its trademarks, which is why it wasn't too surprising when Apple sued Sector Labs over its plan to trademark a video projector dubbed "Video Pod." The case went to trial in 2010, where the US Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found that Apple's "Pod" trademark was famous and was "therefore entitled to broad protection under US trademark law.

Apple vs. Victoria School of Business and Technology

In late 2008, Apple mailed a cease and desist letter informing the Canadian-based Victoria School of Business and Technology that its logo was too similar to Apple's. The dispute raged on for three years before a confidential settlement was reached that saw the school introduce a new logo.

Apple vs. The Department of Justice

In April 2012, the US DOJ sued Apple and five publishing companies, alleging that the parties colluded together in an effort to raise the price of eBooks. To date, three of the publishing companies have reached settlement agreements with the DOJ, leaving just Apple, Penguin, and MacMillan as the companies still in play.

Apple vs. Amazon

In March of 2011, Apple sued Amazon over trademark infringement and unfair competition stemming from the online retailer's use of the phrase "App Store" in the company's mobile software developer program. Apple failed to secure a preliminary injunction against Amazon's use of the phrase and the case is now in the early stages of litigation.

Apple vs. Apple Corps (aka The Beatles) Pt. 2

In 2003, Apple Corps sued Apple for violating the terms of their previous agreement and launching the iTunes Music Store. Apple paid $500 million in a 2007 agreement, and Steve Jobs expressed relief for settling a dispute with one of his favourite bands.

Apple v. NYC

In 2008, Apple filed a trademark opposition in regards to New York City's GreeNYC campaign logo, saying it too closely resembled Apple's. The logo in question also seems to house an infinite loop symbol. A few months later, NYC changed its logo by removing the leaf from the logo, and the logo was granted a trademark in late 2011.

Apple v. Kodak

In early 2010, Kodak - the once proud photography giant - sued Apple after asserting ownership of a photo patent that saves energy on a device by allowing users to preview a low-res version of a newly captured image. In July 2012, the ITC ruled that Apple's iOS devices don't infringe on the aforementioned patent and that the patent itself was invalid.

Apple v. Psystar Corp., maker of "Hackintosh" PCs

In April 2008, a somewhat shady and small company called Psystar began selling non-Apple computers running Apple's OS X Leopard operating system. Apple sued in July of 2008 alleging copyright misuse and, in a very interesting legal battle, emerged victorious in 2009. All told, Psystar only sold 768 of these "hackintosh" computers.

Apple v. Proview

In 2009, Apple purchased the iPad trademark from a China-based company called Proview. In 2010, and on the brink of bankruptcy, Proview sued Apple, claiming that the agreement didn't include rights to use in mainland China. Though Proview was reportedly asking for as much as $1.6 billion from Apple, the companies soon settled for a reported $60 million.

Apple v. Samsung

In April 2011, Apple sued Samsung for infringing upon a number of iPhone design and utility patents. Samsung countersued and the bitter patent battle between the two companies quickly spread to the ITC along with 11 other jurisdictions across four continents. Though Apple was on the winning side of a $1.05 billion judgment against Samsung this past summer, there are still many ongoing lawsuits in play and it looks like this legal battle will drag out for quite some time.

  • Apple vs. the world - Apple’s definitive legal battles
  • Apple vs. Carl Sagan
  • Apple vs. NeXT
  • Apple vs. Woolworths
  • Apple vs. eMachines
  • Apple vs. Apple Corps (aka The Beatles) Pt. 1
  • Apple vs. Nokia
  • Apple vs. software engineers everywhere
  • Apple vs. Franklin Computer Corp.
  • Apple vs. Microsoft
  • Apple vs. a Polish grocery store
  • Apple vs. ThinkSecret
  • Apple vs. Cisco
  • Apple's iPod antitrust litigation
  • Apple vs. Creative Technology
  • Apple & AT&T Mobility Antitrust Litigation
  • Apple vs. 16-year-old owner of 'AppleiMac.com'
  • Apple vs. HTC
  • Apple vs. Sector labs
  • Apple vs. Victoria School of Business and Technology
  • Apple vs. The Department of Justice
  • Apple vs. Amazon
  • Apple vs. Apple Corps (aka The Beatles) Pt. 2
  • Apple v. NYC
  • Apple v. Kodak
  • Apple v. Psystar Corp., maker of
  • Apple v. Proview
  • Apple v. Samsung
  • Play
  • Play
  • Backward
  • Forward

Apple vs. NeXT

When he left Apple to form NeXT in 1985, Steve Jobs brought with him a number of key Apple employees. Apple subsequently sued NeXT, alleging that those employees would use Apple's inside information. Though the case never made it to trial, Jobs at the time noted that "it is hard to think that a $2 billion company with 4,300-plus people couldn't compete with six people in blue jeans."

With more than $100 billion in the bank, it's no surprise that Apple finds itself a target of lawsuits. Of course, Apple is no slouch itself when it comes to initiating litigation. Here’s a sampling of some of the most important, influential, notable, and even downright silly legal battles that Apple has been involved in since first forming in 1976.

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