21 September 2020CopyrightSarah Morgan

Apple’s diverse emojis infringe copyright, claims suit

Texas-based Cub Club Investment (CCI) has accused Apple of wilfully infringing its copyrights covering ethnically diverse emoji characters.

In a suit filed on Friday, September 18, at the US District Court for the Western District of Texas, CCI claimed that Apple had copied African-American businesswoman Katrina Parrott’s diverse emojis.

Parrott founded CCI and, in October 2013, launched the iDiversicons emoji brand on the Apple App Store, which the suit claimed is the “world’s first diverse emoji”. The works-at-issue include emoji with five skin tones: African-American, Asian, Latino/Hispanic, Indian, and Caucasian.

According to the suit—which also accused Apple of trade dress infringement, unfair competition, misappropriation, and unjust enrichment—Parrott had begun discussing a partnership with CCI and Apple during a Unicode Technical Committee meeting in 2014.

Parrott said she had joined the committee “as a means to raise awareness among technology leaders about the digital diversity and inclusion issue”.

Allegedly, over the course of Parrott’s interactions with Apple, she provided senior Apple employees with access to the emojis and created additional emojis in the hopes of partnering with the technology company. But, in 2015, Apple released its own diverse emoji designs.

“Apple’s actions also significantly harm innovation and America’s progress in diversity and inclusion. If Apple’s copying allows it to misappropriate CCI’s substantial investment in research, design, and development, other companies will be encouraged to simply copy others’ proprietary works rather than invest in, partner with, or license works,” warned the suit.

CCI is seeking a permanent injunction against Apple, an account of profits, and damages.

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