Apple Sued by New York Publisher Over Use of ‘iBooks’

Apple Inc., maker of the iPad tablet computer and the iPhone, was sued by New York publisher John T. Colby in federal court today for trademark infringement over its use of the term “iBooks.”

Colby bought in 2006 and 2007 the assets of various entities owned by New York publisher Byron Preiss, who had published more than 1,000 hardcover and paperback books under the “ibooks” name starting in September 1999, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan today.

Apple has a trademark on the name “IBOOK” for computers and once sold a personal computer known as the “iBook,” according to the lawsuit. The Cupertino, California-based company never used the term as a designation for electronic books or an application for the delivery of electronic books until it began selling the iPad in April 2010, Colby said in the lawsuit.

“Apple’s use of the mark ‘iBooks’ to denote the electronic library that can be accessed via its iPad tablet computer and its iPhone is likely to overwhelm the good will of plaintiffs’ ‘ibooks’ and ‘ipicturebooks’ marks and render them virtually worthless,” the lawsuit says.

Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple, declined to comment in a telephone interview.

The case is J.T. Colby & Co. vs. Apple Inc., 11-cv-4060, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.