Could Apple's Lawyers Really Not Understand That Reporting Isn't Copyright Infringement?

from the seems-unlikely dept

Apple is notorious in the legal efforts they undertake to keep their secrets secret and to protect their intellectual property. However, it seems that some of Apple's lawyers may have a trigger finger that's a little too itchy. Following the announcement of the iPhone last week, someone created a skin for Windows Mobile devices that looks just like the iPhone's interface (though, of course, it doesn't actually work like the iPhone interface). It's reasonable to expect that Apple's lawyers would try to stop the person who created the software from distributing it (which would certainly be a reasonable trademark claim, though, not a particularly useful one). However, rather than doing that, they've been sending cease-and-desists at any blogs talking about it and posting the images of the Windows Mobile skin. It's clearly not a trademark infringement to report on the situation, but here's where Apple's lawyers get even odder. Rather than claiming a trademark infringement claim, they're actually calling it a copyright infringement issue -- which isn't just wrong, it's egregiously wrong.

The lawyers claim copyright over the icons, but you can't stop someone from using them in a report about them, which is clearly fair use. It's also not trademark infringement (if they decided to go down that route). It's just bullying. Michael Arrington, over at TechCrunch, has posted the image as well, pointing out how ridiculous this is. Some of the comments to his post show the level of confusion out there around the law. It is true that if you don't protect your trademark you can lose it, but that's not what's going on here at all. First, it's not trademark law they're using, and the same thing doesn't apply to copyrights. Second, even if it was trademark law they were using, they wouldn't have a case against those who were simply reporting the story and showing the image (they probably would against anyone selling the software, however). It's yet another example of lawyers simply using intellectual property law to bully those who are doing something they don't like, not something illegal.

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  1. identicon
    misanthropic humanist, 15 Jan 2007 @ 12:14pm

    lawyers are accountable too

    I'll be deposing to the SEC Wednesday week.

    Good for you Brad. And even if nothing comes of it you can hold up your head high and know you did the right thing. If only more people like you had the courage to confront corruption and abuse we would see some serious social changes for the better.

    Just yesterday the US Congress began a bill to strip members of their lifelong pension rights if they're found to be engaging in corruption. Perhaps this significant gesture shows the tide may be about to turn.

    Likewise, lawyers can be stripped of their licence to practice. A lawyer cannot break the law. Furthermore lawyers are held to even higher standards, they may not misrepresent the law. This seems to be the case here. If it is, then the blog owners should not even bother contesting the ceasement notices, they should begin immediate action to have the lawyers struck off. That will put the shit up them.

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