Apple removes 'counterfeit' app from iTunes

Updated: 2014-11-17 13:02

By Lian Zi in San Francisco(China Daily USA)

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Apple has removed an application from its iTunes store after it was sued by Lufax, a subsidiary of the Ping An Insurance Group.

In a statement Thursday, Lufax said it was informed by Apple that the iPhone maker had removed the app, which Lufax charges is counterfeit.

"We are glad to see that Apple corrected the mistake in time," the statement said, in a translation from Chinese. Lufax, based in Shanghai, did not say whether it would drop the lawsuit.

China Daily attempted to reach Apple media relations in Cupertino, California, on Sunday but did not hear back from the company by press time. The app in question was not visible on iTunes on Sunday.

The suit filed in US District Court in San Francisco on Nov 8, reads, "Continuing to allow this counterfeit app [to be] available at Apple's iTunes App Store poses a tremendous risk for Lufax and its customers. Lufax is the leading provider of financial assets management that has a huge client base in China."

Lufax sued Apple on four counts: false representation, unfair competition, common law trademark infringement and unfair business practices.

Lufax's own app allows its customers to access and manage their assets at the company.

This should be an "open and shut case" if the clear owner of the brand, trademark, et cetera makes a request to Apple's iTunes app store to remove an infringing app, said Jonathan Li, CEO of music and picture-sharing siteVibin.

Although Apple would not likely want to incur the cost of verifying every app it carries, the company should have a mechanism in place to deal with such issues, said Li, who added that Apple is aggressive in protecting its own intellectual property.

"In the US, store owners, whether online or brick and mortar, can be liable for selling counterfeit products, even though they have no knowledge of any infringement of the products they are selling," said Thomas T. Chan, mediator and partner of Fox Rothschild LLP, a Los Angeles law firm.

Apple, as an online store owner, should not ignore any letter or emails accusing them of carrying infringing products, said Chan. Lufax said it first notified Apple of the counterfeit app in August.

Even after the store owners cease carrying the product in question, they can still be liable for it for the time they made it available, Chan said.

If the store owners were notified of the infringement, they have the obligation to verify whether the products are infringing, he said. Otherwise, they can be liable for treble damages and attorneys' fees, which can exceed the cost of the damages, Chan told China Daily.

(China Daily USA 11/17/2014 page3)