Aussie Company Protests That Apple Stole Its Name For HealthKit

Names are tricky. Unless you use a random password generator to come up with your company's identity, you're likely going to end up using a name someone else already has. And that's exactly what Apple seems to have done by accident with its new HealthKit service for iOS 8: accidentally pinch the name from an Aussie company.

Lachlan Wheeler, CEO of Australian health software company HealthKit, woke up early during Apple's annual WWDC keynote yesterday and read emails wondering if the company had been acquired by Apple, or whether it had just used the name not knowing it was already in use Down Under.

"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," Wheeler wrote on the HealthKit blog, adding that he's disappointed with Cupertino.

"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?"

HealthKit has gone all out on Twitter, writing to Tim Cook to ask him if he was aware of the name in the first place.

We've reached out to Apple for comment, but we can't imagine that the multi-billion dollar company is going to change the name of its new flagship health software just because a small Australian health company asked them to.


Comments

    I don't see why Apple don't just change their name; HealthKit for iOS isn't a public facing product, it's the name they have given a "kit" of "health" related APIs for developers. Call it HealthConnect or something like that.

    The actual app that people will have on their phones is just called Health.

    http://www.apple.com/ios/ios8/health/

      I'm with you. I'm sure the Apple lawyers scour the world looking for any perceived infringement of their products/services. So they should show their belief in copyright, IP... by changing the name of a product/service when it "obviously" infringes.

        Well it happened to Microsoft with SkyDrive and the connection to Sky Broadcasting was even less tenuous but upheld by the courts. The main issue for HealthKit (Aus) is whether they have available funds and willingness to pursue litigation which they have no guarantee of winning so it could put them out of business. Their best option is to use the media worldwide to get attention as most forms of media journalism love a David V Goliath story.

      The cunning use of a space bar could have avoided this completely

        In Apple's case, it's the name of a software framework... Spaces aren't supported in those names. An underscore, maybe, but then it would be inconsistent with all the other iOS and OS X framework names.

      Guess what the framework underlying the Maps app is called? MapKit. The Passbook app? PassKit. The Newsstand app? NewsstandKit. Game Center? GameKit.

      Seeing a pattern? :)

    And that why Apple are just money hungry company that don't give a hoot.
    If it was Google they would have changed names or did a joint partnership.
    Imo I hope they go after Apple and take them to court.

    I think we all know Apple will not respect anyone else's claims. They will use their wealth to either buy, destroy or use litigation for years on anyone they are not happy with or who won't bend to their will. So healthkit may as well give up now.

    They Tok Yer Joob or in this case name.

    As I have always said, Apple do not inovate, they steal. Its in the name even!

      Apple do not innovate

      They did just announce a new programming language yesterday...

      What exactly did they steal in this case? The name? No, this is Apple's standard naming convention for iOS programming frameworks (which is what HealthKit is... It's not a customer facing feature). The idea? Unlikely. Specific unique functionality? I've not seen any evidence of that.

        If you bothered to read about it a bit more, you'd soon discover that they have not only STOLEN the name but they have also RIPPED OFF the idea. The Australian Healthkit was up and running long before the iOS version and they are the same product!

          If you bothered to educate yourself, you would know that Apple didn't steal the name. As I've said here already, including in the post you replied to, this is just a standard naming convention for Apple's software frameworks. The app is simply called "Health" (entirely consistent with how Apple names its iOS apps), and the underlying framework is, therefore, HealthKit (entirely consistent with how Apple names its frameworks). As I've said elsewhere - Maps and MapKit, Passbook and PassKit, Newsstand and NewsstandKit, GameCenter and GameKit are all pre-existing examples of the same pattern.

          Regarding the idea - they're clearly not the "same product" as you claim. If you're going to make such a bold claim, perhaps you could flesh it out with some facts. In exactly what ways are they the same, according to you? What specific innovative and unique features of the Australian HealthKit also exist in Apple's product? Note that "innovative" and "unique" are both important aspects to your claims of stealing - it can't just be that there is some overlap in their functionality, since it would be highly unlikely that two products designed to manage your health wouldn't have some overlap, even if developed completely independently.

          If YOU bothered to read about it a bit more, you'd soon discover that they are complete different products, with a completely different focus (apart from both being under the broad heading of "health"). The Australian HealthKit product is largely about a global database of patient records and medical (and para-medical) practitioners. It's about finding medical practitioners, and, once you've found one, that medical practitioner having complete access to your medical history.

          Apple's Health app isn't anything to do with that - it's about local monitoring of key aspects of your health - a place to track and manage health related information gathered by the Health app itself and other health and fitness apps, with the ability for other apps to access that information via the underlying HealthKit framework.

          Don't let the similarity of the names confuse you into thinking they're the same product. They're simply not.

          Last edited 06/06/14 8:51 am

    Well they I just did a trademark search and healthkit is not a registered trademark in Australia
    http://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/atmoss/falcon.application_start

    Also looked for registered business names and "Health Kit International" and "Healthkit Pty Ltd" (which trades as) COUNSELLINK PTY LTD are there but nothing else is is there.
    http://abr.business.gov.au/SearchByName.aspx?SearchText=healthkit

    So looks like there isn't a trademark at all so as far as I can see in Australia the name is free to use, sure Apple won't be able to get a trademark on it due to prior art but if you don't register your name as a trademark its free game.

    And then Apple will attempt to sue the HealthKit company?

    'by accident', Luke? No, they just couldn't be bothered to come up with a different name, and knew they had the money to defend themselves if the real owner sued. Typical 'Bad' Apple litigious bullyboy tactics.

      Don't be ridiculous... "HealthKit" is the name of the framework that underlies the Health app, and simply follows the same naming convention (XxxKit) that Apple use for many of their frameworks (such as MapKit... The framework that underlies the Maps app).

        Imagine if it was the other way around and the little Aussie company started up HealthKit just next week.

        Some of the comments here

        "unremarkable name" really I consider it a very remarkable name, Apple seem to think so as well.

        "Don't be ridiculous" I agree, don't be.

        hi Apple, do the right thing here and contact HealthKit in Australia and make them some kind of fair offer.

        Be fair in life, if you are not fair now you will pay far more later.

          Where do you get the idea Apple think the name is "remarkable"? They simply called the app "Health", like they call the maps app "Maps" and the contacts app "Contacts" and the phone app "Phone" and the calculator app "Calculator" etc etc etc... Do you think they consider any of those names remarkable? No, I can't imagine they do. They're simply obvious and simple names for the functionality they provide.

          Similarly, there is nothing remarkable (in the iOS ecosystem) about the name "HealthKit" - it is simply how Apple often names frameworks that underlie their apps (which I'm sure you'll agree I've covered elsewhere ad nauseum, so I won't go into more detail here). It's not a customer facing name - simply the name of a framework that developers will work with.

          The name "HealthKit" isn't trademarked, so Apple are entirely free to use it.

          And for goodness sake, on the Apple side, "HealthKit" is simply the name of a programming framework for use by developers. It is not the name of the customer facing feature. So who freaking cares (apart from people wanting to bash Apple for the sake of it, or generally make a big deal out of things that aren't).

    Apple would be seen as a more credible and ethical company if they either changed the name, or offered to buy out the Aussie HealthKit. Do the right thing Apple - for once!!

    So many negative comments. To me Health Kit is not that unique... The name is used in games since FPS games started´╝ü removing the space so that it's a name... Maybe wolfenstein should sue both Apple and HealthKit .....

    Wow, the vehemence against Apple in these comments just shows people's ignorance. Let's look at some facts instead:

    1. "Health" (the name of the app) is a very generic name (like "Maps" and "Contacts", for example - very consistent with Apple's existing nomenclature).

    2. XxxKit is very standard naming for iOS frameworks... MapKit, TextKit, SpriteKit etc. HealthKit is the expected name for the framework that underlies the Health app.

    3. HealthKit is not a registered trademark in Australia, so even if Apple did a trademark search, they wouldn't have found it in use here.

    Very unlikely Apple stole anything here... Name or functionality. It is simply the logical name Apple would use given their existing naming practices. And I've not read any hint that the Australian HealthKit has any particularly unique functionality that Apple have "stolen"... It's all about that remarkably normal name that HealthKit apparently forgot to register.

    They stole your idea, HealthKit Australia? No, they just happened to come up with the same unremarkable name because that's how they often name their programming frameworks.

    Last edited 05/06/14 4:40 pm

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