HealthKit, an Australian health care startup, is making some noise about the familiar name Apple chose for its new set of health care developer tools: HealthKit.
HealthKit, the company, took to its website (HealthKit.com, the domain name it’s owned since 2012) and Twitter (@healthkit, ditto) to defend its name, which Apple has not trademarked, unusual for its new products. In a blog post charitably titled “Apple likes our name and so do we!,” HealthKit wrote:
So, today was interesting. I woke up at 4:30 am and turned to my Apple iPhone to check my emails. Someone had emailed me to ask whether Apple stomped all over your name or did we do a secret deal with them. Huh?! I got up and turned on my computer and checked our web stats, and discovered we had lots of people on the HealthKit site. A good thing, you’d think. No, not really. Apple liked our HealthKit idea so much that they have used our name and launched a new product called HealthKit.
HealthKit is already in use, by us! Even the way they write it is the same as us. I’m flattered that they like our name so much 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 any difference to them? Are they so big that they are above doing an ordinary Google search? 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
Matching monikers aside, HealthKit the company and Apple’s HealthKit have overlapping but different uses. HealthKit, the company, provides health care providers with patient-management and billing software. Patients can use the app to find doctors, and to view and share their records. Apple’s HealthKit is a set of tools for developers to integrate data from fitness devices like Nike+ and the FitBit with Apple’s new iOS app “Health,” which stores a users’ fitness and health data in a secure location that can be tracked over time, and shared with medical providers.
This isn’t the first time Apple exercised its might and marketing prowess to wrest away already-existing product names from other companies. Most famously, Cisco owned the trademark to the iPhone for years before Apple launched the product. When the trademark dispute was settled in 2007, Apple announced that under the agreement, “both companies are free to use the “iPhone” trademark on their products throughout the world.” Sure, when was the last time you saw a Cisco iPhone?
Similarly, Australia’s HealthKit, which has under 50 employees, will have a Goliath-style challenge on its hands defending its name against Apple. Cofounder Alison Hardacre says the company is “looking at our options” regarding legal action or rebranding, and that they are intent on hanging onto their domain name. Apple has not yet responded to an email from Fast Company about whether it knew about HealthKit, the company, or has plans to trademark the name.