Photographer sues Apple for using photo without licence

Apple finds itself in a legal tangle, yet again. This time a Swiss photographer has alleged that Apple used her registered photograph in its latest Retina Display-based MacBook Pro ad campaign without obtaining a proper license. As reported by Patently Apple, the Cupertino-based company had obtained Sabine Liewald's copyright photograph, which she created and owns from her agent, Factory Downtown. At the time, Apple sought a high-resolution file of the photograph. Apple had stated that it would use the photograph for "comping" (or layout) purposes only. 


As per Liewald’s allegations, Apple was fully aware that it did not possess the rights to use the photograph commercially, and that it would require additional permission from Plaintiff or Factory Downtown if it were to do so. Liewald has now filed the lawsuit in the United States District Court for New York Southern District Court. 


The "Eye Closeup image" (Image Credit: CNET)



The report shares that the Cupertino-based company had informed Liewald's agent that it did not "intend to use the 'Eye Closeup' photograph in the advertising campaign for Apple's MacBook Pro computers". In her allegations Liewald has stated that despite clarifying that Apple went ahead and copied, published, and 'exploited' her photograph, by way of including it in its MacBook Pro advertising campaign, keynote addresses, and other related advertising materials, without permission or compensation. 


Liewald's photograph is protected under the Berne Convention as a non-United States work. She claims that she ought to get actual damages, including defendant's profits, and statutory damages for the infringing use of the 'Eye Closeup' photograph.  


Only a couple of days ago, Apple was reported to have inked a deal to the effect that it was allowed to use Swiss railway operator SBB's trademark station clock design on iPads and iPhones. Apple recently grabbed headlines when the analogue-style clock face in the new Clock app on the iPad, which is a part of iOS 6 had been found to bear direct resemblance to the clocks of the Swiss Federal Railway (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen or SBB). 


Swiss newspaper, Tages Anzeiger, has reported that the SBB will be seeking financial compensation from the Cupertino giant for having copied the design of its trademark product. The report quoted an SBB spokesperson, Christian Ginsig, as saying, "We enjoy the fact that the Swiss railway clock is being used by Apple. It once again proves that it's a real piece of design. This act, however, is an unauthorized use [of the clock's design] by Apple." The SBB spokesperson stressed that it is the “sole owner of the trademarks and copyrights of the station clock.” 


Apple has been in the news for the longest time for its patent battle with the South Korean mobile phone giant, Samsung Electronics. Apple had accused Samsung of copying the designs of its popular products. A news as such as this, in which the SBB has accused Apple's designers of blatantly copying the design of its iconic clock, folks at the Cupertino-based company could find itself in trouble. An end of sorts to the rather longstanding patent battle between two technology heavyweights - Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics came recently. Apple won and Samsung Electronics was left to cough up compensation to the tune of a staggering $1.05 billion.

Published Date: Oct 15, 2012 03:24 pm | Updated Date: Oct 15, 2012 03:24 pm