At WWDC on Monday, Apple announced a long anticipated feature called HealthKit. HealthKit will be a one stop shop in iOS 8 for health apps, fitness tracking, and even medical results from your physician. It was rumored for a long time under the name 'Healthbook', so it was a bit surprising to Apple watchers to learn the name was 'HealthKit'. It was especially surprising to the Australian startup that has held the name (and website and Twitter handle) HealthKit since 2012.
The Australian HealthKit "transforms the concept of practice and patient management software," working with medical practitioners and patients around the world. They share a general goal with Apple's HealthKit: making their consumers healthier by creating a health information management system. But they did it first, and they cannot compete with worldwide tech giant Apple.
HealthKit first took to their blog to show their displeasure. "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?" The startup had no idea Apple HealthKit was coming, so Apple definitely did not reach out to them before WWDC.
Alison Hardacre, co-founder and managing director of HealthKit (the original one), is very frustrated with the situation. She told Wired.com that “It is very flattering that they like our name, but I’m a little let down because how hard would it have been to spend five seconds to put HealthKit.com into their browser and find us? Everybody worries that Google or Apple will come into their space and their business will die, but no one thinks that company will come into that space and use the same name!”
As for whether Apple did or did not know, it doesn't really matter. It's perfectly possible that they just didn't care that a small company held the name. Apple is big enough to steal the name (it's a great name) and co-opt it with great ease. Apple doesn't need to do that "quick domain search." They have the power to take over just about any name and make it their own, even if its not the "right" thing to do.
As for HealthKit owning the domain and Twitter handle, that might not matter to Apple either. @Apple isn't an active Twitter account, though @Tim_Cook does tweet regularly. Apple doesn't operate stand alone websites for their app compilation features. Passbook appears on the iOS 7 features page, and they also have a 'Feature' section on their iTunes tab, part of the Apple homepage.
On the bright side, the small start up is getting major traffic to their website.