Apple acts against Kiwi brand name

A single letter is at the centre of a David and Goliath legal fight between a Kiwi and technology giant Apple.

Hayden Crowther, of Hamilton, created the driPhone as a sturdy, waterproof case for smartphones of all varieties but Apple Inc is opposing his plans to trademark it in New Zealand and has now asked him to switch the letter `i' in driPhone for a 'y'.

Apple told Mr Crowther, through Wellington-based patent and trademark attorney firm Henry Hughes this week, that it was opposing his driPhone trademark in New Zealand. But Mr Crowther thought there was "little weight" to Apple's opposition.

"The trademark and patent attorney said Apple was doing it to preserve its position."

Apple claimed in the notice that the driPhone name "would be likely to deceive or cause confusion" and was "contrary to New Zealand law". It also objected because "the applicant's trademark, or an essential element of it, is identical or similar to a trademark that is well-known in New Zealand [iPhone]".

Mr Crowther has until April 1 to respond but he is sticking to his guns.

He said he was refusing to rebrand because the driPhone logo took less space with an i and it would be cheaper to fight Apple's opposition.

He was also continuing with his plans to register the trademark in the rest of the world.

He has had preliminary discussions with James & Wells Intellectual Property lawyers in Auckland, but only received Apple's notice of opposition yesterday.

They will discuss the case next week.

Fairfax Media