(CN) – A Pennsylvania federal judge declined to dismiss trademark infringement claims that an iPhone application developer levied against Hershey over “computer-generated images of milk, chocolate and syrup.”
U.S. District Judge John Jones III prefaced his ruling on Thursday by noting that Apple reported revenue of about $2.4 billion for iPhone applications in 2009, and that the introduction of the iPad has likely boosted sales.
“This is big business by anyone’s measuring stick, which explains why the combatants here would bring a dispute involving computer-generated images of milk, chocolate, and syrup to federal court,” the ruling states.
Hottrix, which developed of drinking-simulation apps, such as iBeer, iSoda and iMilk, says Hershey copied its products’ “look and feel” when collaboration between the two companies failed.
The iMilk app sold for $2.99 a pop after its 2007 introduction, and a new version is also proving popular, the ruling states.
After negotiations failed between Hottrix and Hershey over a potential application collaboration, Hershey partnered with Versatile Systems to launch the Syrup app in October 2009.
There are differences in how each company’s application simulates the pouring, drinking and even curdling of milk, but the judge found that Hottrix sufficiently pleaded similarity to survive summary judgment.
Hottrix claims it has become synonymous with iPhone drinking applications, and consumers will assume it is associated with the Hershey product.
Jones noted that Hershey can renew its preemption arguments at a later date as the companies refine their legal theories because the arguments at this stage are still undeveloped.
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