Judge throws out skin tone emoji copyright lawsuit against Apple

A judge has dismissed a lawsuit from 2020 against Apple from the makers of the ‘iDiversicons’ app who claimed that the Cupertino tech giant violated their copyright of diverse skin tones for emojis.

Apple thumbs up emoji

Cub Club’s skin tone emoji case against Apple dismissed in tech giant’s favor

District Judge Vince Chhabria reached the decision to dismiss the claim this week. In his decision, Chhabria stated that Apple was not in violation of the copyright claim since “there are only so many ways to draw a thumbs up.” As reported by Reuters:

Apple Inc convinced a California federal judge on Wednesday to throw out a lawsuit accusing the tech giant of ripping off another company’s multiracial emoji and violating its intellectual property rights.

Cub Club Investment LLC didn’t show that Apple copied anything that was eligible for copyright protection, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said.

It has been reported that the makers of the iDiversicons app, Cub Club, met with the Cupertino tech giant in 2014 to discuss a potential partnership. However, both entities did not reach an agreement. The next year, Unicode started introducing diverse skin tone emoji as part of its standard. In 2015, Apple officially adopted Unicode’s standard on its platform with the launch of iOS 8.3.

While the iDiversicons created small emoji-like images and GIFs before 2015, the judge said Cub Club failed to provide evidence that their copyright had been infringed upon by the Cupertino tech giant. Cub Club’s suit was subsequently dismissed on the lack of evidence and the fact that Apple’s designs did not resemble Cub Club’s prior art.

Now, Apple’s emoji catalog supports a ton of diverse skin tones from faces to hand gestures. The different skin tones have added up to hundreds of characters with Apple adding more whenever Unicode announces new emoji.

Cub Club can amend their lawsuit if they wish to. However, Judge Chhabria has indicated that an amended lawsuit will not dramatically change the outcome of the dispute.

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About the Author

Asma is an editor at iThinkDifferent with a strong focus on social media, Apple news, streaming services, guides, mobile gaming, app reviews, and more. When not blogging, Asma loves to play with her cat, draw, and binge on Netflix shows.

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