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 Directis 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 iTigeri operating system since about April 12, 2005," Tiger Direct said in a statement. "The promotions refer to iTiger Essentials,i iTiger Unleashed,i iTiger World Premierei and iX Days until Tiger,i and direct consumers to a iTiger Centeri 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.
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.
In addition to the companyis Web sites and trademarks, Tiger Direct also markets computers under the Tiger brand name.
In Tiger Directis court filings, the company drew a comparison between Appleis 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 Computeris Macintosh computers names iOS X v10.4 Tigeri. 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 companyis court filings offer Internet search results as an example.
"Before Apple Computeris 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, TMOis 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 Directis 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 Appleis policy is to not comment on ongoing litigations.