Apple faces suit over 'iAd' platform

Published: 6/14/2010 8:35 AM

Despite Steve Jobs's contention that Apple Inc. has commitments of more than $60 million for its iAd platform, the Cupertino, California-based company may have to get a trademark-infringement suit out of the way first.

Apple was sued May 21 by Innovate Media Group LLP of Costa Mesa, California, owner of two registered U.S. trademarks for "iAd."

Innovate, founded in 2002 by Yahoo! Inc. alumnus John Cecil, registered the trademarks for use with Internet advertising in October 2008, according to the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company has used the terms since 2006, it said in the complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles.

Jobs, Apple's chief executive officer, revealed the iAd program at an April 8 press conference. Afterwards, Innovate contacted Jobs and Quattro Wireless, a company acquired by Apple in January that produces ads for mobile phones.

Innovate informed both Jobs and Quattro of its trademarks, and received no response, the company said in its court filings.

Instead, the computer company continued to make unauthorized use of the mark, including at a new website, That website informs readers that "iAd is Apple's mobile advertising platform for targeting iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users."

Innovate claims that Apple's use of the "iAd" mark "is just another sequence in a pattern of conduct by Apple, of ignoring and tramping the intellectual property rights of others."

The complaint noted that "iPhone," "iPad" and even the name "Apple" were all marks held by third parties, "which Apple used without the owners' permission, and ultimately took over." Innovate made reference to trademark disputes with the Beatles-founded record label Apple Corp. and Cisco Systems Inc.'s iPhone mark.

Innovate claimed it has suffered "irreparable harm" and notes that Apple has applied for to register "iAd" as a trademark in Canada. It asked the court to bar Apple from using "iAd," and for an award of money damages and all profits realized by Apple relative to its alleged infringement.

Additionally, Innovate requested awards of litigation costs and attorney fees, and extra damages for what it said is deliberate infringement by Apple.

Apple hasn't yet made any court filings in response to Innovate's allegations.

Innovate is represented by Laura D. Castner, Olivier A. Tallieu, Sarah S. Brooks and Yuri Mikulka of Los Angeles-based Zuber & Taillieu LLP.

The case is Innovate Media Group LLC v. Apple Inc, 2:10 cv- 03866-SVW-JC, U.S. District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).