Snapchat files trademark complaint against Saginaw startup over emojis

SAGINAW, MI — The tech giant Snapchat has registered a trademark complaint against a Saginaw-based startup, claiming that the two companies share a too-similar product name.

Hierographics Inc., a Saginaw mobile and web development company, created the app “Badmoji,” which allows users to add a cast of devils to their emoji keyboards.

In a 49-page notice of opposition, filed before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO), Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, alleges that this name is too similar to its own “Bitmoji” brand, and calls on Hierographics to stop printing images associated with Badmoji on merchandise.

In a press release, Hierographics CEO Andrew Lay said the company will fight to maintain its name before the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board.

“We will affirm our rights to use the Badmoji mark on our merchandise,” Lay said in the release.

In the complaint, dated Sept. 10, the California-based Snap Inc. states that potential confusion between the two brands could harm the Bitmoji brand.


Bitmoji allows users to create custom avatars, both through the Snapchat app and on other software by installing a related keyboard. The company holds trademark registrations allowing it to print related images on merchandise, such as clothing, household items and toys.

Those merchandise registrations were filed in 2018 and 2019, according to the complaint, and a trademark corresponding to the avatars’ use in software dates to 2014.

Snapchat parent company files complaint against Saginaw-based startup

Examples of ‘Badmojis,’ the app-based avatars created by Saginaw-based Hierographics, Inc. Snap, Inc., the parent company to Snapchat, has filed a trademark complaint against the company, alleging that the name is too similar to their own registered ‘Bitmojis’ brand.

In the complaint, Snap alleges that the two names of the brands are “confusingly similar in sight, sound, appearance, and commercial impression,” because they are separated by only two letters.

The two companies have been engaged in a trademark dispute for nearly three years. Lay previously told MLive that he had first filed an application to trademark Badmoji in January, 2018, after which Snapchat officials asked for delays from the PTO, before formally filing a notice of opposition in January 2019.

Some 238 million people use Snapchat every day, according to the complaint. About 36,000 people have downloaded the Badmoji app, according to the Hierographics press release.

The attorney of record on the Snapchat complaint did not immediately respond to MLive’s call for comment.

Content retrieved from: