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Kiwi inventor wins Apple battle

TOM PULLAR-STRECKER AND CHRIS GARDNER
Last updated 10:53 17/12/2013
Hayden Crowther and his driPhone
PETER DRURY/Fairfax NZ
NO CONFUSION: Hayden Crowther shows off his driPhone.

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Apple has lost its bid to prevent Hamilton inventor Hayden Crowther from selling waterproof smartphone cases under the driPhone brand name.

The Intellectual Property Office decided to allow Crowther a trademark for the name despite a formal challenge from the US technology giant, which argued that the name could be confused with its iPhone brand.

Apple claimed the use of the name driPhone was likely to deceive or cause confusion and amounted to "passing off".

But assistant commissioner of patents and trademarks Jane Glover ruled that the names were not sufficiently similar to cause confusion and awarded $2950 in costs against Apple.

"The prefix 'dri' looks and sounds quite different to the prefix 'i'," she said in her ruling.

Crowther said he was ''happy and relieved'' that he'd won.

"I certainly would not like to have to do this again. If I didn't think I was right I wouldn't have started the fight,'' he said.

''It's obviously been concerning, I am not a Trade Mark expert, I am a small guy who thought I had come up with a great name. I knew nothing. It did weigh heavy on me for a long time, I am taking resources away from the business and start up.''

Apple, which has the right to appeal, has been approached for comment.

Crowther said last December that Apple had offered to pay him to change the name of his smartphone cases in New Zealand after asking him to change the name to "dryphone".

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- Fairfax Media

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