Two years ago, Cub Club sued Apple, claiming it had been the first company to launch emojis in a range of different skin colours and claiming Apple had copied its idea.
iDiversicons was launched in 2013. The following year a collaboration with Apple was discussed, and fizzled out. But in 2015, variable skin-coloured emojis were one of the new features brought to the iPhone in the iOS 8.3 software update.
Apple, for its part, argued that racially diverse emojis were part of Unicode, so this move was simply a matter of following the recommended standard.
Now a court in California has dismissed the lawsuit, on the basis that the emoji used by Apple are not considered to be similar enough to those offered by iDiversicons. In addition, the concept itself is not considered sufficiently unique to warrant broader copyright protection.
“As alleged in the complaint, Apple’s emoji are not “virtually identical” to Cub Club’s,” explains US district judge Vince Chhabria in an
order granting the motion to dismiss. “Compared side by side, there are numerous differences.
“Whereas Cub Club’s emoji are filled in with a gradient, the coloring of Apple’s emoji are more consistent. The shape of Apple’s thumbs-up emoji is cartoonish and bubbled, while Cub Club’s is somewhat flatter. Many of Cub Club’s emoji have shadows; Apple’s do not. Even the colors used are distinct… These differences are sufficient to take Apple’s emoji outside the realm of Cub Club’s protected expression.”
Cub Club can appeal the decision if it wishes, but it will be difficult for the company to win the case from here.
This article originally appeared on
Macworld Sweden. Translation (using
DeepL) and additional reporting by David Price.