back to article Kiwi inventor's court win rains on Apple's parade

New Zealand inventor Hayden Crowther has done something Samsung hasn't been able to achieve: comprehensively smack down Apple in court. Apple's beef with Kiwi Crowther centres on the waterproof phone cases he markets under the name “driPhone”. Crowther tried to trademark that name, but Cupertino took exception claiming it “ …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    DryPhone

    So why not call it DryPhone then?

    1. John Bailey

      Re: DryPhone

      "So why not call it DryPhone then?"

      Or a DRIPhone.

      or a DrIpHoNe.

      Or George.

      Because the inventor called it Driphone, and Apple threw a hissy fit. And it seems.. lost the case. Perhaps Apple should have bought a more distinctive product name.

      And are you sure there is not already a trademark for DryPhone.

      Not that anybody will need one anyway.. Aren't iPhones waterproof now with a firmware upgrade?

    2. R Callan

      Re: DryPhone

      Perhaps because New Zealand has a tradition of calling waterproof gear Dri, as in Swanndri. To have reversed the order and called it PhoneDri would have sounded ridiculous and possibly have upset the Swanny people.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: DryPhone

        New Zealand also had a device called the "iPhone" on sale in the 1990s, long before Apple even got into the telephony market.

        That was a nasty piece of consumer tat along the same lines as the Amstrad Em@iler thingy (only buggier and was eventually the result of a forced product recall about 2001), but its existance made it difficult for Apple to trademark the name when their new devices went on the market in NZ.

    3. LarsG

      Apple can shed some iTears over this one.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The letter i is now copyrighted

      Now t wll be mpossble to use this letter wthout ncurrng the wrath of Apple.

      Unless of course you pay royaltes

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: DryPhone

      Why did they call it the iPOD when the iPAQ already existed? Now that was a rip off. Or the iPhone?

    6. Volker Hett

      My first thought

      why the i?

      1. Steven Roper

        Re: My first thought

        "why the i"

        I think the 'i' before a product title meant 'internet' - just like the 'e' in eMail or eCommerce meant 'electronic'.

  2. proto-robbie
    Coat

    I'm told there wasn't a dri-i in the courthouse.

  3. SteveCarr
    Holmes

    A victory for common sense and the little man....

    At least the courts here in New Zealand are capable of standing up to a mega corporate and their hordes of legal beagles. Unlike certain courts (and jury members) in Cupertino!

    1. Trixr Bronze badge

      Re: A victory for common sense and the little man....

      For now....

      Just wait until our lovely govt (and Labour was no better) passes the TPP. It's just bend over and spread 'em for US corporations after that.

    2. Charles Manning

      Hollow victory though

      I'm a Kiwi and I laud the common sense.

      However NZ is a tiny country and it is not worth developing a product for NZ markets alone. If the product is even marginally successful, just about everything will be exported and he's going to have to win this battle in the importing countries.

      It is the same as the battle for software patents. NZ might have made software patents obsolete, but most NZ software gets exported and that means the software is still effectively bound by US/whatever patent law even if it is being developed in NZ.

    3. Jolyon Smith

      Re: A victory for common sense and the little man....

      A certain Mr Dotcom might dispute your notion that NZ is somehow immune from the influence of mega corporations.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dear Mr Cook

    You should have bought him out.

    It would have been less expensive than your trial fees.

  5. Winkypop Silver badge
    Coat

    IPONZ

    Heeeeeeeeey!!!!!

  6. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    [Sigh]

    "... has the scalp of Apple's lawyer to hang on his virtual mantlepiece."

    If only it really worked that way. Perhaps we could have the court decree printed on a lawyer skin and framed so it could be passed down for generations.

    "Yes son, that's the hide of a billion dollar globocorp lackey that your great grandfather took down in hand to juris combat."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: [Sigh]

      Twould make a nice lampshade for sure!

  7. bazza Silver badge

    Crazy System

    The trademark system basically requires a trademark owner to actively defend their trademark or lose it altogether. So if someone came up with "iiPhone" Apple would have to sue or risk losing exclusive rights to "iPhone". Same with "Experier" vs Sony's "Xperia", etc, etc. The trademark authorities themselves will not protect your trademark for you except in obvious cases of direct copying.

    So the problem is that you have to be "seen" to be defending your trademark, or else you'll lose it. The common sense thing for Apple to have done would have been to write a letter saying that they don't mind DRIPHONE, that they recognise that they're selling waterproof cases and that there's no real conflict of business interests. However, that's not public enough to be "seen" to be defending "iPhone". And without that someone would be able to argue that Apple didn't care and that they should be allowed "iiPhone" as a trademark.

    It would be far better if the system allowed trademark owners to officially lodge letters of consent ("Dear DRIPHONE, we're cool with your company name coz you're selling cases, please don't make an actual phone otherwise I'll get angry, lots, Tim Cook") as official evidence of actively defending a trademark. That would be better for everyone.

    Having said that, Apple do seem to have been needlessly paranoid in this case. I guess we all would be too if we stood to lose $billions of business if we lost control of a trademark and risked being personally sued by the shareholders for being so careless.

    1. Jonathan Richards 1
      Meh

      Re: Crazy System

      > ...if the system allowed trademark owners to officially lodge letters of consent ("Dear DRIPHONE, we're cool with your company name coz you're selling cases, please don't make an actual phone otherwise I'll get angry, lots, Tim Cook")

      It's been a long time, but isn't this basically what happened in the settlement between Apple Corp and Apple Computer?

      </trivial_research>

      OK, no, not exactly. Apple Computer settled with Apple Corp in 1981, and the former undertook not to enter the music business (and the Beatles undertook not to write software, snort). The whole thing appears to have been settled in 2007, with Apple Inc. buying out Apple Corps trademarks. Ah, well, it must have paid the school fees for a whole generation of lawyer's offspring...

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Crazy System

        "OK, no, not exactly. Apple Computer settled with Apple Corp in 1981, and the former undertook not to enter the music business (and the Beatles undertook not to write software, snort). "

        Which is why the first apple mac default beep was named "sosueme"

  8. john devoy

    Come on,what are the chances of a court in Cupertino going against apple?

  9. Dick Emery

    diPhone!

    iShit and I do it every day. Come at me you rotten Apple.

  10. TheProf
    Devil

    The sound of money.

    Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand? IPONZ?

    Suspiciously close to iPonz.

    LITIGATE!

  11. Tim Worstal

    So why not call it DryPhone then?

    Driza-bone. Oz company been making waterproofs since 1898.

    Riffing off what would be a common identification around the Tasman Sea.

    1. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge

      Re: So why not call it DryPhone then?

      My boy - a very very fine waterproof. Their problem is that unlike iDevices (and other droidiosh things) they just keep working. Rain 7.0 = Rain 0.1

  12. Purlieu

    Podium

    Apple is the company that sued podium.com because it "conflicted" with iPod

    Microsoft isn't much better e.g. Lindows

    Now off to Asda for some tights

  13. driPhone

    Why not dryPhone?

    'Why not dryPhone?'

    Cos it potentially its to descriptive,

    You can't trademark common words that closely

    And the 'yp' are beneath the baseline and harder for printing when limited for space on product etc.

    So that's y the y became an I and made dri, the p became capitial for the same reason and also stopped it from being so easily read as 'drip hone'

    Well that was my reasons and thoughts at the time anyway

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: Why not dryPhone?

      This is the internet. You're not allowed to be rational here.

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