Apple incurs wrath of HealthKit, company with same name as its iOS 8 health tools

One of the many new features that Apple is introducing with iOS 8 is a new suite focused on health and fitness. The front end through which users engage is the beautiful new Health app, which acts as a one-stop shop for all matters related to a user's wellbeing, including nutrition management, sleep diaries, fitness tracking, and even an emergency card - accessible from the lock screen - to let others know of allergies, medication and other vital information. 

To help developers make the most of this app, Apple created a new tool for them called HealthKit, which allows them to hook into the Health app, to allow data to be shared between their own respective apps and the aggregated view that the Health hub offers to the user. Using HealthKit, developers can, for example, share exercise data from a fitness app, or heart rate data from a wearable monitor. It can even share data with your doctor, if you allow it. 

It's an exciting proposition, and one that has the potential to greatly improve how users manage their health. But not everyone is quite so happy with the announcement of HealthKit (and we don't just mean Samsung). 

As it turns out, there is a company called HealthKit, which develops software designed to help practitioners and administrators to manage their health care centers - and they're not at all happy about Apple's choice of name for its developer tools, despite Apple's HealthKit not really being a public brand, but rather a name that only devs are ever likely to see. In a blog post on the company's site, entitled "Apple likes our name and so do we!", a representative for HealthKit made their feelings clear on the subject.

"I'm flattered that they like our name so much," said the rep, "and that it's a ringing endorsement for our market opportunity (which we already knew). However, as an Apple fan, I feel let down. They didn't feel that they had to do a quick domain search - it would have taken 5 seconds to type www.healthkit.com into their browser and discover us. Would it have made a difference to them? Are they so big that they are above doing an ordinary Google search?" 

The spokesperson ended the post by encouraging users to contact Apple's chief executive about the naming conflict: "Let us know what you think at @healthkit (yes, it's our Twitter handle), or you can tell Apple's CEO exactly how you feel about this on his Twitter handle, @tim_cook."

This isn't the first time a tech giant has found itself facing complaints from another company over branding. Microsoft was famously forced to rebrand SkyDrive after losing a trademark battle with British Sky Broadcasting. Following its decision to rebrand it as OneDrive, the chief operating officer of One.com told Neowin that he "would have thought Microsoft would have done more thorough research" before choosing its new name, given his belief that OneDrive was a "similar name with a similar product" to his company's cloud services. 

Source: HealthKit, via our esteemed former colleague, Owen Williams | upper image via Apple

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53 Comments

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AVKit, CloudKit, GameKit, GLKit, MapKit, PassKit, UIKit. There's probably more, they're just names of internal frameworks, not apps.

SceneKit, SpriteKit, AppKit, WebKit, AppleScriptKit, CoreAudioKit, EventKit, InputMethodKit, IOKit, OSAKit, QTKit (deprecated), StoreKit… just to name a few others.

Hmm, I think the guys behind the Swift language have a better case since in that case, it's at least about two programming languages so they're competing in the same field of business.

For a trademark to be valid, they usually need to be competing in the same business. This HealthKit is also about software development, but a huge difference is that this HealthKit is about a company and the other a software API. Apple's HealthKit is no physical entity -- it's essentially a concept representing a set of files.

I'm no lawyer but I'd be a bit surprised if anything came out of this. HealthKit (this company) can perhaps take comfort in that this name should die down pretty much entirely outside of developer circles when the buzz has calmed a bit.

Honestly, I think this is more of a problem for Apple. HealthKit the API may be more well known, and then it's Apple's problem for having chosen it and have e.g. @healthkit at Twitter go to something irrelevant.

Apple is trademarking the name. The other company did not. So clearly Apple did do their homework and this other business is just oblivious to how the system works. They have only themselves to blame for not taking legal ownership of their name.

If apple was producing an app which helps manage medical centre then yeah, but a name for a set of API's only open to developers, who cares.

Skydrive was changed as Sky operate digital services, so if in the future they want to offer dropbox, or cloud storage they are going to call it skydrive.

Metro was taken down as the fonts and artwork was the same, Apple has to pay royalitys to swiss clock makers because of the design of the clock app.

I'm shocked apple didn't remove their app from the store for duplicating the functionality of their app, Anticompetitive and Appstore go hand in hand

Healthkit != Apple's Health App in iOS

Healthkit is the name of the API's in the SDK, which is why this is a non issue

With this being more of a backend API service I can't see it being hard for Apple to change it. Or maybe that's the reason they used it and didn't think it would be an issue?

Exactly, this is really not the big deal that the anti-Apple folks would love for it to be. Tweak the name and get over it.

C#Rocks said,
Not enough. SkyDrive still had to be changed and as far as I know.

They decided not to pursue it, they weren't told by a court or anything to change it.

don't think id be too upset personally, they have a good case of infringement and will likely do very well out of it.

HealthKit is not something that the end user is going to see, though. Apple uses many "xKit" names to refer to a collection of APIs that relate to a given function.

That said, at the end of the day, Apple may just pay this company some amount of money to nip any trademark dispute in the bud. Like they did with Cisco and iPhone.

It's really irrelevant what "end users" may or may not see. Apple stole their name and probably are arrogant enough to think they'll win any court case that gets filed over this.

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest... It's hardly Apple's first time at doing stuff like this.

FloatingFatMan said,
It's really irrelevant what "end users" may or may not see. Apple stole their name and probably are arrogant enough to think they'll win any court case that gets filed over this.

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest... It's hardly Apple's first time at doing stuff like this.

Exactly. It's exactly what the guy above said "couldn't the even Google it?".

Just wondering why you think Apple "stole" their name? With the amount of products that Microsoft, Apple, Google, or any large company pumps out, these things will happen. You know the saying, "It happens."

well.. that said you might think that it happens that people introduce something that is a IP infringement. Well .. "it happens" right :)

Might be because Apple is know to steal? Like when Apple pinched the iPod idea from a Brit then gave the original designer zero.

Whether the end user is going to see it or not is irrelevant. Microsoft had to stop user the term Metro apps because of a name conflict. Metro apps was a technical term, nothing to do with end users. I hope Apple is gentleman enough to do the same, but I doubt it. They are bullies and they bully everyone, even someone who has 10x their market share.

FloatingFatMan said,
It's really irrelevant what "end users" may or may not see. Apple stole their name and probably are arrogant enough to think they'll win any court case that gets filed over this.

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest... It's hardly Apple's first time at doing stuff like this.

It's an API, announced at a conference for software developers... The shared library you include is named "HealthKit.framework". The application is named "Health", not "HealthKit". Idjits.

Wall-swe said,
Might be because Apple is know to steal? Like when Apple pinched the iPod idea from a Brit then gave the original designer zero.
I knew you'd join this conversation. They are known to steal huh? Do we really need to start listing the ideas taken by hundreds of companies from hundreds of other companies? No, we don't need to go there. This happens quite often in business. The fact that a well known name is involved, it will make headlines. Microsoft has the same issues sometimes. Do we need to accuse them of stealing? No, we do not.

Rosyna said,

It's an API, announced at a conference for software developers... The shared library you include is named "HealthKit.framework". The application is named "Health", not "HealthKit". Idjits.

Thank you Rosyna.

Rosyna said,

It's an API, announced at a conference for software developers... The shared library you include is named "HealthKit.framework". The application is named "Health", not "HealthKit". Idjits.

Ah now this is a different matter. If this is indeed the case then there's no issue because there's no conflict of interest here. A set of API's does not a health app make.

Mind you, lay of the idjits bit yeah, we're not at junior school now. ;)

Rosyna said,

It's an API, announced at a conference for software developers... The shared library you include is named "HealthKit.framework". The application is named "Health", not "HealthKit". Idjits.

It's funny how they slam Apple for not checking when they have went ahead and not checked the proper usage of the name themselves.

It's probably nothing more than a publicity stunt.

FloatingFatMan said,
It's really irrelevant what "end users" may or may not see. Apple stole their name and probably are arrogant enough to think they'll win any court case that gets filed over this.

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest... It's hardly Apple's first time at doing stuff like this.


It's only possible to "steal" (rather infringe on, nothing is stolen here) a trademark if you work in the same field of business.

Or else Windows would have hell with window cleaning companies.

Apple HealthKit is a set of code behind a name and this is a name for a company, so the names don't even represent the same concepts.

I wonder if they really have a case. Also, Apple HealthKit is actually trademarked, and I'm 99% sure their lawyer team are actually aware of this website. Yes, they probably googled this name before settling on it when finding it wasn't also another software API. They aren't idiots; this job is on their payrolls and I'm sure they are fully aware of the situation.

goodbytes said,
It's funny how they slam Apple for not checking when they have went ahead and not checked the proper usage of the name themselves.

It's probably nothing more than a publicity stunt.

Why do you say that, were you able to find yet another HealthKit?

Pluto is a Planet said,
Why do you say that, were you able to find yet another HealthKit?

No sorry my post wasn't clear: It will be embarrassing for HealthKit when they realise it's the name of Apple's private developer API... they are already doing interviews and it's the same story... we own the domain, we own the twitter handle... Why would apple want a domain name and twitter handle for it's API? So they are bashing Apple for using their name without checking (which isn't entirely true anyway) they are doing the same thing now by bashing Apple when they probably haven't looked into how it's being used by Apple..

Hethler said,

Sure, fantardism rocks!

I don't speak "child". Mind clearing that up? Furthermore, I have no idea how to read what you just wrote. Your sentences are incomplete and fragmented. My head hurts.

JHBrown said,
I don't speak "child". Mind clearing that up? Furthermore, I have no idea how to read what you just wrote. Your sentences are incomplete and fragmented. My head hurts.

Duh, obviously it was a typo and I meant if *this* HealthKit thing is the one you're talking about last week about the best product line-up, diverse product and all.

And clearly, you have no idea on Microsoft's SkyDrive vs Britain's Sky brouhaha because you only live in a world of Apple products/devices.

Child? It is a valid argument. Just because you don't agree you suddenly call it child?

Hethler said,

Duh

Oh gosh, never mind. I still have no idea how to read what you just wrote. Pardon me if English isn't your first language.

Rosyna said,

It's an API, announced at a conference for software developers... The shared library you include is named "HealthKit.framework". The application is named "Health", not "HealthKit". Idjits.

And Microsoft used "Metro" at a developers conference, but got sued over that as well. That's just how it is.

FloatingFatMan said,
It's really irrelevant what "end users" may or may not see. Apple stole their name and probably are arrogant enough to think they'll win any court case that gets filed over this.

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest... It's hardly Apple's first time at doing stuff like this.

Exactly

FloatingFatMan said,
It's really irrelevant what "end users" may or may not see. Apple stole their name and probably are arrogant enough to think they'll win any court case that gets filed over this.

Doesn't surprise me in the slightest... It's hardly Apple's first time at doing stuff like this.

Apple is trademarking the name, so clearly this other company did not. If they don't own the rights to the name, they can't do a thing legally.

Of the millions and millions of companies out there, you can be pretty certain any product name imaginable will have a company out there with the same name. The name means nothing until somebody takes ownership of it. That's just how it works.

Rosyna said,

It's an API, announced at a conference for software developers... The shared library you include is named "HealthKit.framework". The application is named "Health", not "HealthKit". Idjits.

It is a framework, but it seems to be more than just a framework as well. They are branding it as bigger than that. And, obviously, it affected this HealthKit business... Before calling people idjits maybe try to see things from different perspectives...

Scabrat said,
It is a framework, but it seems to be more than just a framework.

Nope, it's just a framework. Full stop.