Apple is being sued by Katrina Parrott (under Cub Club Investment, LLC), a black businesswoman, for infringing the copyright of her “iDiversicons” and more specifically her copyrighted system for allowing users to choose from five skin tones in colors that debuted on Apple’s App Store . in 2013 and on iTunes in 2014.
Parrott claims that Apple has stepped up its search for a partnership agreement after a series of 2014 meetings and communication between itself and two senior Apple software engineers, who got to take a closer look at its technology. Apple released its own podium with five skin tone keyboard modifiers in April 2015, and downloads of Parrott’s iDiversicons dropped.
In a lawsuit filed Friday in federal court in Waco, Texas, Parrott accuses Apple of infringing copyright and trade, abusing ideas and technology, unfair competition and unfair enrichment. She is seeking a court order blocking Apple from using her work and unspecified monetary damages based on Apple̵
The complaint to Parrott on one point states “… this is contrary to Apple’s own mission to correct gaps in diversity and inclusion, especially when Apple’s own representatives have recognized Mrs Parrott’s contribution to bringing diversity and inclusion to digital communication. “
Below are graphics from a document from Parrott entitled “Applying Color Theory to the Emoji World.”
Below are a number of comparison emoji examples between Parrotts iDiversicons vs. Apple Icons from iOS 13.3.
Since 2014, Ms. Parrott has been internationally recognized as the creator of five skin color emoji, and she continues to be recognized as a pioneer in digital communications by developing diversity and inclusion through iDiversicons®. Co-founder and president of Unicode Dr. Mark Davis praised Mrs. Parrott’s innovative work and said, “Without you, we certainly would not have come up with an equally good solution!” American University recognized Mrs. Parrott as a pioneer in diversity and inclusion, and the 2019 film “Picture Character: An Emoji Documentary” featured iDiversicons® emoji.
In addition, many articles celebrate her achievements, including: PCWorld, CNN, TexasMonthly, Black Enterprise, Women Leadership Magazine USA, SEVENTEEN, The Daily Dot, Houston Chronicle, Puget Sound Business Journal, Galveston Daily News and Racing Toward Diversity. In 2015, the United Athletes Foundation asked Ms. Parrott to create a Ray Lewis emoji. This year, the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is considering iDiversicons® emoji as a potential feature exhibition.
Meetings with Apple
Starting with a UTC meeting in May 2014, Ms. Parrott began discussing a potential partnership between CCI and Apple about her copyright-diverse emoji with Apple’s senior software engineer and senior director.
At the Unicode Technical Committee (UTC) meeting # 141 on October 28, 2014, hosted by Apple in Sunnyvale, CA, Ms. Parrott presented her solution by using a color-modifying stool to implement the five skin tone options on digital keyboards, a solution that is recognized and utilized globally.
On March 27, 2014, Ms. Parrott sent a first letter by mail and email to Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, requesting a meeting with Apple to discuss a potential partnership between CCI and Apple.
On April 9, 2014, Ms. Parrot sent another letter by mail and email to Mr. Cook with additional information about the iDiversicons® emoji along with photos of at least 594 iDiversicons® emoji.
On May 2, 2014, Mrs. Parrott sent an email to Mr. Cook requesting a personal meeting.
During UTC meeting 139, Mrs. Parrott met Edberg, and Edberg reviewed the iDiversicons® emoji and the iDiversicons® website.
On May 7, 2014, Edberg helped coordinate a meeting between Ms. Parrott and Celia Vigil, Apple’s senior director of frames and fonts at the time.
Mr. Edberg helped coordinate the meeting between Mrs. Parrott and Mrs. Vigil to explore opportunities for partnership between Apple and CCI.
On May 7, 2014, Ms. Parrott gave Edberg a thumb drive with over 100 iDiversicons® emoji, which Edberg uploaded to his laptop.
On May 7, 2014, Edberg shared the uploaded emoji from Mrs. Parrott’s thumb with Mrs. Vigil during a staff meeting.
On or around May 7, 2014, Edberg requested that Mrs. Parrott create (1) a series of five skin-colored female emoji to compliment the iDiversicons® male police officer and construction worker emoji; and (2) a unicorn emoji based on requests from Apple product users.
On May 8, 2014, Ms. Parrott delivered eleven new emoji to Edberg at the Unicode meeting based on Mr. Edberg’s request on May 7, 2014.
On May 8, 2014, Mrs. Parrott met with Mrs. Vigil.
On May 9, 2014, Mrs. Parrott sent Mrs. Vigil an email with PDF versions of the emoji that Edberg uploaded from Mrs. Parrott’s thumb. Case 6: 20-cv-00856 Document 1 archived 18/09/20 Page 9 of 28
On May 9, 2014, Mrs. Vigil responded to Mrs. Parrott and said, “Thank you for taking the time to meet me. I pointed out my colleagues to you [iDiversicons®] application. I can also show them the pictures you shared with Peter. ”
On May 9, 2014, Edberg sent Mrs. Parrott an email stating that “I hope we can train something between iDiversicons and Apple.”
On 23 May 2014, Edberg sent Mrs Parrott information about Unicode Standard.
On June 9, 2014, Ms. Parrott Edberg sent a draft research paper entitled “Mobile Diversity Research” (hereinafter “Research Paper”) for her review.
On 12 June 2014, Edberg responded to Mrs Parrott’s e-mail with recommended changes and comments after reviewing the research paper.
On September 26, 2014, Edberg emailed Ms. Parrott about his successful testing of the iDiversicons® emoji on the Apple OSX operating system and implementation instructions.
On September 29, 2014, Mrs. Parrott sent an e-mail to Edberg, asking technical questions regarding implementation, and Edberg answered.
On October 23, 2014, Ms. Parrott was disappointed to hear from Edberg that Ms. Vigil did not see the opportunity to partner with CCI, and that Apple continued to use its own human interface designers to develop various emoji based on iDiversicons® emoji.
On October 28, 2014, Ms. Parrott UTC presented her solution to using a color-modifying stool to implement the five skin tone options for different emoji.
On January 8, 2015, Ms. Parrott sent a third letter by mail and e-mail to Mr. Cook requesting that Apple reconsider a partnership with CCI.
On March 5, 2015, the iDiversicons® emoji app was a “featured” app on the Apple App Store.
On April 9, 2015, Apple released its first diverse emoji (“Accused Products”) using the five-tone keyboard modification palette.
On July 13, 2015, Ms. Parrott sent a fourth letter by mail and e-mail to Mr. Cook asking Apple to recognize the CCI, iDiversicons® emoji, and her evolution of various emoji.
With the release of Apple’s diverse emoji, CCI experienced a decline in sales of iDiversicons® emoji.
To date, Apple has released at least four versions of its emoji with five skin tone options.
Mrs. Parrott and iDiversicons® emoji have helped shape and develop the worldwide emoji landscape, including Apple’s release of diverse emoji.
Apple’s emoji is the same or at least substantially similar to the copyrighted iDiversicons® emoji that Mrs. Parrott shared with members of Apple’s team.
The damage to CCI
CCI receives revenue from the sale of iDiversicons® emoji on Apple’s App Store and iTunes.
Apple’s intentional infringement robs revenue as Apple device users can access iDiversicons®-like emoji on standard Apple keyboards. CCI (1) thus earns commercially without paying the price for the use of CCI’s intellectual property rights; and (2) reduces and causes significant damage to the value of the works. As a result, CCI has been harmed by Apple’s conduct in an amount to be determined according to evidence during the trial.
Apple’s violation has been intentional since at least the first release of various emoji in 2015.
Unless imposed by this court, Apple intends to continue to infringe CCI’s copyright and otherwise profit from CCI’s Works. Consequently, CCI has suffered irreparable damage and will continue to suffer irreparable damage unless Apple is required to do so. CCI does not have a sufficient remedy to remedy all the damage that Apple has caused and intends to cause through its conduct. CCI will continue to suffer irreparable damage until Apple’s actions alleged above are imposed by this court.
Apple’s actions also significantly hurt innovation and America’s progress in diversity and inclusion. If Apple’s copying makes it possible to reject CCI’s significant investment in research, design, and development, other companies will be encouraged to copy only others’ proprietary works instead of investing in, collaborating with, or licensing. The significance of Apple’s offenses is reinforced by the fact that Apple’s intentional actions are directed at the creative works of the community itself CCI seeks to support and include through iDiversicons® emoji.
This is in fact contrary to Apple’s own mission to correct gaps in diversity and inclusion, especially when Apple’s own representatives have recognized Mrs Parrott’s contribution to bringing diversity and inclusion into digital communication. See www.apple.com/diversity.
5 counts against Apple
Count 1: Federal Copyright Infringement Under the Copyright Act
Count 2: Violation of trade dress and false designation of origin
Count 3: Common Law Unfair competition
Count 4: Abuse of Common Law
Count 5: Unfair enrichment
For more information, read Katrina Parrott’s full complaint filed in court throughout the SCRIBD document below, politely against Patently Apple.
Cub Club Investment v Apple … by Jack Purcher