Online computer and peripheral retailer TigerDirect.com, Inc. filed a lawsuit against Apple Computer yesterday alleging the computer giant’s new Mac OS X 10.4 operating system, know as “Tiger,” is infringing on its trademarked name.
The suit, which was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Florida, asks for a temporary restraining order and injunction to stop Apple from using the word “tiger” online or in printed materials.
The suit also cites unfair trade practices in connection with its recent marketing campaign. TigerDirect says Apple’s use of Tiger “is causing confusion, mistake and deception among the general purchasing public.”
A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, May 3, 2005.
Searching for the Truth
Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox told MacNewsWorld that this case piqued his interest, so he did some search engine analysis of his own last night in attempt to determine if there could be any confusion between the computer retailer and the computer manufacturer.
Wilcox started with Google and the keyword “tiger.” The first result was a non-profit organization called Tiger Information Center, followed by TigerDirect. Apple’s Tiger was the fourth response.
Then he did a search for “tiger,computers.” Those keywords put TigerDirect in the top three spots. When he searched for “tiger, software” TigerDirect was once again the number one result.
Yahoo and MSN searches yielded a different order of results, but with a similar conclusion: Wilcox wasn’t confused about whether he was seeing results for an online computer store, a non-profit agency, or computer software.
“I see plenty of other ‘tigers’ placing ahead of TigerDirect in the three major search engines,” Wilcox said. “My question is, why single out Apple when a government agency, a non-profit organization, a famous golf pro and a magazine all placed before TigerDirect with the keyword ‘tiger’?”
Comparing Tigers with Kittens
TigerDirect claims that Apple’s promotions refer to “Tiger Essentials,” “Tiger Unleashed,” “Tiger World Premiere” and “X Days until Tiger,” and direct consumers to a “Tiger Center” that features products from manufacturers and product categories which are basically the same as the offerings by Tiger Direct.
But Wilcox did some more searching on TigerDirect.com and his findings lead him to disagree with the company’s statement. When he searched for “Mac OS X” he got no results. When he searched for “Macintosh” he found two Windows PCs. And when he searched for “Apple” he found two HP iPods.
“Think about the timing here. The lawsuit was filed the day before Tiger launches,” Wilcox said. “This could be a publicity opportunity. If I was Apple I wouldn’t sweat it.”