Apple Runs into IPR Hurdle with ‘SplitView’
Delhi HC orders co not to use SplitView on petition from software co Vyooh
Mumbai: Apple Inc, famous for ferociously protecting its design and other IPR rights, has been caught in a legal wrangle in India.
The Delhi High Court has directed the US tech giant not to use the name ‘SplitView’ in any of its products or services such as iPad, iPhone or iOS operating system after a little known Delhi-based software company Vyooh moved court, alleging trademark violation.
Vyooh, a vendor for Microsoft, has claimed that it developed a similar software a decade ago in 2006. SplitView has been a popular software that allows users to simultaneously work on multiple windows on the user’s single computer screen.
Apple has recently introduced an identical feature with even the same name, but has tweaked the user interface, the company claimed. Vyooh LLP and its promoter Rohit Singh had approached the court, alleging that they have developed the software programme which sold under the trademark ‘SplitView’.
The company’s lawyers have objected to Apple using the same name as the software doesn’t have its patent. The US company, which will have to file its reply by May 9, has appealed against the decision, but its spokesperson declined to comment. When contacted, Shwetasree Majumder of Fidus Law Chambers, the firm representing Vyooh LLP in the case, confirmed the order but refused to share further details since the matter is sub judice. Last week, Apple had approached the division bench of the Delhi High Court, challenging this order which later asked a single bench to hear the arguments of Apple as well.
“SplitView is not descriptive but had acquired distinctiveness and was associated exclusively with the Indian software developer (plaintiff),” Mustafa Safiyuddin, chairman of Legasis Partners, said. “This order will send a strong message to multinational software companies to respect the intellectual property rights of Indian software developers. It also signifies the importance of trademarks in the software field.”
The court restriction comes at a time when the iPhone maker plans to open its own stores in India, one of its fastest growing markets that contributed nearly a billion dollar in revenues. Two months ago, a jury in the US ordered Apple to pay $626 million in damages after finding that iMessage, FaceTime and other Apple software infringed on another company's patents. VirnetX had accused Apple in 2012 of violating four of its patents, which mostly involve methods for real-time communications over the Internet.
Even in the Indian case, Singh alleged that Apple has violated its trademark by offering the software called Split View in its iO9 and OSX El Capitan. Having clean trademark and intellectual property (IP) are some of the key factors that give the edge during any valuation and hence many Indian technology companies are becoming more aggressive towards its protection. “More companies are asking us to create trademark, or logo, with the specific insist on unique identity,” said Tina Jain Mehta, founder of boutique brand consulting firm Pineapple Consulting. “Earlier, this section of industry was not even part of most brand consultant’s clientele.”