Cartier sued Apple last week, and before I had a chance to figure it out, they either un-sued them or announced that they were about to withdraw the complaint, which isn’t even available yet on the Southern District of New York’s PACER system. As the Wall Street Journal explains, “The suit alleged that two applications for the iPhone infringed on the trademark for the luxury brand’s Tank watches.” Per CNET News:
At the heart of Cartier’s infringement claim was a pair of apps called Fake Watch and Fake Watch Gold Edition. The apps are made by Digitopolis Game Studio, which interestingly enough, was not named in the lawsuit.
Filed in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the lawsuit claimed the applications give people the ability to tell time on the iPhone and iPod Touch with a display that simulates famous wristwatches.
Jonathan Lagarenne, Cartier’s lawyer, said the lawsuit would be withdrawn because the company was satisfied that Apple had removed the apps from the store.
That Jonathan Lagarenne is pretty darned effective! Brings a lawsuit against a major technology manufacturer based, presumably, on contributory infringement, without even, “interestingly enough,” naming the alleged direct infringer, and gets results so fast that he and the rest of his Fox Rothschild colleagues are already riding into the sunset, back to Jersey across the George Washington Bridge! (More here.)
It is odd, though, isn’t it? You may not have thought that Cartier would necessarily hire a Philadelphia law firm for, well, for any reason… much less someone out of their crack “Princeton,” New Jersey office (actually kind of only near Princeton)… whose firm bio, while beaucoup impressive, doesn’t exactly scream “litigation” and who has appeared in only three prior cases in the Southern District and five in the District of New Jersey — ever … to file a lawsuit in federal court in New York against — *gulp* — not just anyone, but Apple. Again:
Cartier’s lawyer . . . said the lawsuit would be withdrawn because the company was satisfied that Apple had removed the apps from the store.
An odd choice of words, don’t you think? Of course it’s not a direct quote. But “satisfied…” and “removed” (when?) … and “from the store” — were the apps” ever really “in the [Apple] store”? Aren’t these third-party “apps”?
Why do I have a feeling we’re not getting the whole story here?
We’ve all seen rapid capitulation, though not likely by Apple in a case such as this. You can hardly imagine Apple, not known for being a soft litigation touch, wanting to establish a precedent that it rolls over based on novel third-party liability claims, can you?
And on the Cartier side, well, running to announce that you’ve “withdrawn” a lawsuit against a sophisticated, wealthy adversary because, “Hey, we made our point,” without filing a stipulation of settlement or, well, anything… How do you know your offending “app” isn’t just back in the stores the day after you “withdraw”?
It’s not as if Fox Rothschild doesn’t sometimes have a funny way of resolving trademark infringement lawsuits where it represents the plaintiff, after all. And this is a funny way. “Withdrawn”? That’s not usually a synonym for “winning,” is it?
No, you just don’t see this every day. Why, from the timing of it all I’d almost think Cartier had gotten a Rule 11 letter threatening to bring down holy hell if the case wasn’t “withdrawn,” as they’d say in Cartier-talk, tout-de-suite. I haven’t seen the complaint, such that I could suggest my own little take on that (not that Cartier has asked me lately), nor proof of any such threat. But it sure is odd.
Live and learn, I guess. Live and learn.