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Apple sued over its use of 'iBook'

New York book publisher claims it acquired the trademark in relation to e-books with assets of a company that sold books under the "ibooks" name starting in 1999.


A New York book publisher has filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming its use of the term "iBook" violates the publisher's trademark, the second trademark infringement suit filed against the tech giant in less than a week.

The suit, filed yesterday by J.T. Colby and Co. in U.S. Southern District Court for New York, claims the trademark was acquired in 2006 and 2007 along with various assets of Byron Preiss, who had published more than 1,000 books under the "ibooks" brand starting in 1999.

Colby's suit acknowledges that Apple has a trademark for "iBook" related to its use on the personal computer the Mac maker sold from 1999 to 2006. However, Apple did not begin to use the term to describe an electronic book or method for delivering electronic books until 2010.

"Apple's use of the mark 'iBooks' to denote the electronic library that can be accessed via its iPad tablet computer and its iPhone is likely to overwhelm the good will of plaintiffs' 'ibooks' and 'ipicturebooks' marks and render them virtually worthless," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit seeks injunctive relief as well as unspecified monetary damages.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A search of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office reveals an ibook record for science fiction books was filed in 1999 but listed as abandoned as of 2003.

Another USTPO search reveals an Apple filing for iBook in 2010 that describes "software for reading electronic publications on digital electronic devices."

Preiss, an author and publisher who specialized in graphic novels and science fiction, died in a car crash in July 2005. Barbara Marcus, then the executive vice president of the publishing company Scholastic, told The New York Times in 2005 that Preiss was among the first publishers to release electronic books.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of last week's lawsuit by an Arizona company that accuses Apple of infringing its "iCloud" trademark. iCloud Communications, a Phoenix-based voice over IP provider, alleges that the name of Apple's recently announced online storage service copies its name and causes confusion over competing products.