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TigerDirect.com Sues Apple Over "Tiger" Name; Company Seeks Injunction [UPDATE]

TMO Reports - TigerDirect.com Sues Apple Over "Tiger" Name; Company Seeks Injunction [UPDATE]

by , 6:05 PM EDT, April 28th, 2005

Tiger Direct, the parent company of TigerDirect.com has sued Apple over the use of the name "Tiger" in Mac OS X 10.4, which the company alleges infringes on Tiger Direct's trademark. The company has also accused Apple of engaging in unfair trade practices. Apple has branded Mac OS X 10.4 as "Tiger," in keeping with its theme of using big cats for Mac OS X 10.2 (Jaguar), 10.3 (Panther), and now 10.4 (Tiger). The lawsuit, which was first reported by Bloomberg, seeks an injunction against Apple that would prevent the company from using the Tiger name in advertising its products.

"Apple has been running a sizeable multi-media marketing campaign, promoting the OS X 10.4 'Tiger' operating system since about April 12, 2005," Tiger Direct said in a statement. "The promotions refer to 'Tiger Essentials,' 'Tiger Unleashed,' 'Tiger World Premiere' and 'X Days until Tiger,' and direct consumers to a 'Tiger Center' that features products from manufacturers and product categories which are basically the same as the offerings by Tiger Direct."

The company said that a preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 3, 2005, four days after Apple actually releases Tiger on April 30th.

Trademarks

Tiger Direct is reseller of computer and electronics products that founded in 1987.

According to court filings obtained by The Mac Observer, Tiger Direct owns a federally registered trademark for "TIGER," which covers, "Goods and Services: Mail order catalog services featuring computers, computer related products; and retail store services featuring computers and computer-related products."

TIGER was registered by the company on January 8, 2002, and was first used on October 20, 1987. Additional registered trademarks include TIGERDIRECT, TIGERSOFTWARE, TIGERDIRECT.COM, and TIGERTV.COM.

Apple officially announced Tiger on May 4th, 2004, and unveiled the operating system to developers at the World Wide Developer Conference on June 28th of that same year.

In addition to the company's Web sites and trademarks, Tiger Direct also markets computers under the Tiger brand name.

Filings

In Tiger Direct's court filings, the company drew a comparison between Apple's business of selling "among other things, computers, computer software, and computer-related products," the same as Tiger Direct described its own business.

"Apple Computer announced that on April 29, 2005, it will begin selling a new operating system, software for Apple Computer's Macintosh computers names 'OS X v10.4 Tiger'. Apple Computer has not limited its infringing use of the Tiger mark in this form. Rather, Apple Computer has created and launched a nationwide media blitz led by Steven Jobs, overwhelming the computer world with a sea of Tiger references."

That media blitz, according to Tiger Direct, has resulted in the term "Tiger" shifting from referencing Tiger Direct to representing Apple. To illustrate this point, the company's court filings offer Internet search results as an example.

"Before Apple Computer's use of Tiger, an Internet search for the term "tiger" would result in Tiger Direct being the sole provider of computers, computer software, and computer related products. "

Now, however, the company said that searches for "tiger" return results for Apple through Google, and it has become the #1 result at both MSN Search and Yahoo.

As of this writing, TMO's check of Google found TigerDirect.com is the #2 Google search result, and the first computer-oriented result, while Mac OS X is the #4 total result.

Tiger Direct's points illustrate a shift in awareness concerning the word "tiger," but the filings do not explain why users might have performed a search for tiger when looking for PC computers in the first place.

Tiger Direct does not specify the damages it seeks, but asks the court to permanently enjoin Apple from using the Tiger name.

A Tiger Direct spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit, and Apple's policy is to not comment on ongoing litigations.

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