Apple Settles Suit Over Advertising Photo for Retina MacBook Pro

Apple has settled an October 2012 lawsuit with a Swiss photographer over the company’s allegedly improper use of an image advertising the MacBook Pro with Retina Display, introduced in June 2012. The suit claims that Apple’s use of an image, titled Eye Closeup, to advertise the capabilities of the Retina MacBook Pro was not covered by the licensing terms to which Apple and photographer Sabine Liewald agreed upon.

Apple Retina Photo Lawsuit
Sabine Liewald's Eye Closeup used by Apple to demonstrate Photoshop on the new Retina Display

According to the initial complaint, Apple acquired the rights to the image from Ms. Liewald’s agency, Factory Downtown, for non-commercial layout purposes. The terms governing Apple’s use of the image did not include its use in public advertising.

Without seeking permission, Apple used the image to demonstrate the new MacBook’s Retina Display during the keynote that unveiled the product as well as on its website. Ms. Liewald interpreted this as advertising and filed suit against the company in October.

Apple changed the image used on its website and in other marketing materials to a different closeup shot of an eye after the suit was filed, but the company has made no public mention of the suit.

News reported Wednesday by AppleInsider reveals that Apple and Ms. Liewald settled the suit out of court, a week before their trial was scheduled to begin. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed but Ms. Liewald’s original suit sought statutory damages as well as profits generated by Apple relating to the company’s use of the image.

Apple faced a similar situation in September 2012, when it was revealed that the company improperly used the design of a Swiss Federal Railway clock for its iPad Clock app in iOS 6. Apple also settled that dispute with a payment reported to be $21 million.