UPDATE: Apple clamps down on 'Memory' games in trademark tussle

UPDATE: Apple clamps down on 'Memory' games in trademark tussle
UPDATE: Gamasutra has named the German board games specialist involved as Ravensburger, with Preschool Memory Match co-developer Darren Murtha claiming he too was asked to re-name his app in 42 different territories by Apple.
FURTHER UPDATE: Ravensburger has contacted us to say it will now be commenting on the issue.

Apple is reportedly emailing iOS developers behind apps with the term 'Memory' in their title to instruct them either to change their game's name, or pull it from sale.

Based on an email from Apple forwarded to us by a developer, a German board games specialist has trademarked the term in a number of territories, and is now looking to press home its rights across more than 40 countries.

Regions wrapped up the case include major European territories such as Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Russia.

History repeating

Developers are being instructed to remove the word 'Memory' both from the app's title and search keywords.

Those that refuse can either challenge the claim by contacting the board games developer directly, or pull their app from sale in the regions where the trademark is in force.

The developer that alerted us – who wishes to remain anonymous – questioned the legitimacy of a company trademarking such a commonplace term, though it isn't without precedent in the mobile field.

Back at the start of 2011, Doodle Jump developer Lima Sky was pulled into a similar debate when developers claimed the studio had sent out letters through Apple asking firms behind 'Doodle' apps to change their name – an account co-founder Igor Pusenjak later contested.

A matter of memory

"If the name of your game is so close to Doodle Jump that people think Lima Sky created it, we are asking you to change that," said Pusenjak at the time.

"There was absolutely no rush to call a game 'Doodle Something' until Doodle Jump became famous. Then many developers began jumping on the bandwagon whether their game had any doodled elements in it or not.

"They were simply trading on the fame of Doodle Jump, for which Lima Sky has a trademark."

A matter of weeks later, developer Stick Sports also took action against other apps with the word 'Stick' in their names, with Apple requesting developers prove that their titles did not "infringe Stick Sports Limited's rights".

"The 'Stick' mark has been registered for many years and has significant reputation in its marketplace," said Stick Sports' solicitors Sheridans in a statement at the time.

"As a result those developers that have used the name 'Stick' are therefore benefiting from the goodwill Stick Sports has in its brand and Stick Sports is right to request that they stop."

The company behind this latest trademark tussle has not yet gone public, though we have contacted them for clarification.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.


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Eric Redekop
What's next? Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola suing each other for trademark infringement over the other's use of "cola"?...New York City suing Apple for infringement of their official moniker, "The Big Apple"? Pleeeeease.

I was under the impression that the whole name "Memory Match" is trademarked, and not the common words of which it is comprised.

Hey, if you're going to take umbrage over the use of words which make up your trademark, I think I'll trademark the letter E (the initial of my first name), and send cease and desist letters to everyone who keeps using MY LETTER, including APPL.
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