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Apple claims Australian retailer Woolsworth's logo (left) infringes on its trademark (right), as it allegedly bears an apple fruit.  (Source: Sydney Morning Herald)

Apple is also taking action against music festival promoter Poison Apple for its skull and crossbones Apple logo, seen below.  (Source: LiveGuide)

Fruit of the Loom might want to remove the Apple from their logo, if they don't want to get sued by Apple Inc., which believes it has sole rights to Apple-related trademarks...  (Source:
Don't mess with our trademark, says Apple

Apple Inc., a leading purveyor of premium mobile electronics and maker of the wildly successful iPhones and iPods, has shown itself to be very aggressive in attacking other firms that dare use trademarks containing apple fruit.  A while ago, it sued the city of New York for using an apple for a logo on one of the city's green projects.

Now Apple has filed an equally perplexing trademark complaint against Woolworths, Australia's largest retailer.  Woolworths innocently redesigned their logo in the shape of a 'W' that also looked like a piece of produce.  That turned out to be a potentially costly mistake as Apple's legal team quickly seized on the fact that the company's green logo bore a faint resemblance to an apple fruit.

Apple Inc. believes that it has obtained complete trademark rights to any fruit logos even vaguely apple-themed, despite there being numerous "apple"-named and branded corporations, such as The Beatles' Apple Corp., that existed long before Apple Computer (later to become Apple Inc.) sold its first computer.

When it comes to the Australian logo, the logo is a mix of dark and light green and is painted in artistic swaths, bearing little resemblance to Apple's iconic insignia in size, color, or shape.

Woolworths filed for the trademark in August of last year.  The new logo now adorns the company's trucks, stores and products.  Replacing it would likely cost in the millions, to take a conservative guess.  Nonetheless, Apple is insisting that IP Australia, Australia's government regulators, bow to its will and deny the trademark (Woolworths' new trademark has not yet been approved).

It is possible that Woolworths and Apple could compete in the consumer electronics or computer market, as one of the retailer's chains of stores (Big W) sells a variety of electronics, akin to Walmart or Target in the U.S.  However, the vast majority of consumers should face little confusion in differentiating the Woolworths logo from Apple's.  Nonetheless, Apple believes the Australian retailer's logo will damage its brand.

Hans Hulsbosch, the artist who designed the new logo, says it isn't even an apple necessarily, and points out that the company's literature never called it an "apple".  He says Apple Inc. is taking its legal aggression "to the extreme."  He adds, "Based on this logic, they would have to take action against every fruitseller."

Trademark lawyer, Trevor Choy, though, says he sees nothing wrong with Apple trying to proactively legally challenge any company with an apple fruit-related logo.  He states, "They are just covering off any eventualities.  This is often the prelude to settling [the matter]. I doubt it'll go all the way unless, of course, Woolworths decides that they want to go into computers … I doubt Apple expects to win."

Apple is also actively actively litigating in the form of complaints or lawsuits against music festival promoter, Poison Apple, which has applied to trademark an apple with a bite out of it atop crossed bones; and Adults Only, a pornography channel which has a logo featuring an Apple, devil's tail, and arrow. 

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And what's next?
By frobizzle on 10/6/2009 8:43:20 AM , Rating: 5
You won't be able to use the adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" without paying royalties to Apple?

Things can no longer be as American as apple pie?

The bible will need to be rewritten to take out any references to the apple in the Garden of Eden?

Can this get any more absurd?

RE: And what's next?
By The Imir of Groofunkistan on 10/6/2009 9:04:29 AM , Rating: 5
The Bible only says it's a fruit, doesn't call it an apple. Though I bet the boys of Cupertino would still try to sue God :)

RE: And what's next?
By GreenEnvt on 10/6/2009 9:10:10 AM , Rating: 2
Bah, beat me to it.

RE: And what's next?
By fic2 on 10/6/2009 7:49:05 PM , Rating: 5
In a related court case Apple sues god/evolution for making a fruit look like Apple's logo.

RE: And what's next?
By zebrax2 on 10/6/2009 9:14:09 AM , Rating: 5
The next step is to sue producers/sellers of real world apple.

So basically they took something very basic make a company with a logo base on that then suddenly they think they are the only one with the right to that thing. Disgusting

RE: And what's next?
By jonmcc33 on 10/6/2009 9:28:55 AM , Rating: 5
Actually, Del Monte should sue Apple for use of the word "apple" and the logo which is basically an apple with a bite taken out of it.

Del Monte has been around since the late 1800s anyway. Steve Jobs doesn't stand a chance.

RE: And what's next?
By HrilL on 10/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: And what's next?
By masamasa on 10/6/2009 1:36:43 PM , Rating: 2

RE: And what's next?
By KenRico on 10/6/2009 3:50:58 PM , Rating: 3
If memory serves, Apple sued Apple Records about their Granny Apple Logo for infringement, also.

I didn't understand it at the time because Apple Records was established in 1968, well before Apple Computers - and Apple Computers logo at the time was using the traditional CGA, multi colored logo.

Just shows the Apple doesn't fall far from the tree and a Leopard doesn't change it spots.

RE: And what's next?
By ZachDontScare on 10/6/2009 5:05:57 PM , Rating: 3
Wasnt it the other way around? With Apple Computers getting away with it because they werent in the music business. Then when iTunes/iPods came along, some arrangement had to be made.

RE: And what's next?
By gsellis on 10/7/2009 9:14:17 AM , Rating: 2
You are correct. Apple Computers was paying royalties to Apple Records and had a strict non-compete clause. Then they did iTunes and iPods and I lost track of where the infrigment fight went and how it was resolved.

RE: And what's next?
By RivuxGamma on 10/6/2009 6:15:46 PM , Rating: 2
IIRC, Apple was sued by Apple Corps years ago over the same kind of thing. I guess they learned the trick from them. I don't see how there's any possible way to confuse the two, but morons abound and Apple must them happy.

RE: And what's next?
By Manch on 10/6/2009 9:59:16 AM , Rating: 5
You now owe them 5$ for typing that, and that's American as apple i-pie thank you very much.

Future statement from Apple: The use of the "Apple" in the story of Adam and Eve puts a negative connotation on the Apple brand as being evil and in collusion with the devil. We feel that this will hurt our sales by dissuading Christians looking to buy our products. Because of this we have been granted an injuction by the 9th district court against churches and sellers of bibles until an acceptable solution can be found.

RE: And what's next?
By MadMan007 on 10/6/2009 3:21:28 PM , Rating: 2
Actually 'Apple' was intended to have exactly that connotation afaik. Wasn't one of their early computers priced $666.66?

RE: And what's next?
By amanojaku on 10/6/2009 10:40:08 AM , Rating: 5
You won't be able to use the adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" without paying royalties to Apple?
Well, you could just claim it was free advertising. ;-)

Things can no longer be as American as apple pie?
Even more free advertising! Remember to present a bill before Apple does.

The bible will need to be rewritten to take out any references to the apple in the Garden of Eden?
I think Apple would request the story be changed so that Eve is the consumer, MS is the serpent and Adam is the Apple shareholder, screwed out of his Apple-topia.

Can this get any more absurd?
Yes, just wait.

RE: And what's next?
By foolsgambit11 on 10/6/2009 7:38:43 PM , Rating: 3
I'm surprised MacDonalds didn't try to block Woolworth's logo too - I mean, it's obviously just an upside-down, stylized, different-colored M, like the Golden Arches.

Come on, Apple, this is getting out of hand. Next you're going to sue Disney for Snow White because there's an apple with a bite in it, right?

Read this!
By KWRussell on 10/6/2009 9:10:25 AM , Rating: 5

How does it feel to be debunked the day before you post, Mick?

RE: Read this!
By jonmcc33 on 10/6/2009 9:31:41 AM , Rating: 1
Debunked? What, Jason Mick merely posted a blog about a link he found. There is nothing to be debunked. If you don't like his opinion then move on...

RE: Read this!
By DarkElfa on 10/6/2009 9:36:59 AM , Rating: 5
Too bad Engadget practically blows Steve under the table, so their credibility on anything Apple is a joke.

RE: Read this!
By thekdub on 10/6/2009 9:52:05 AM , Rating: 1
Like Mick is any more credible when it comes to Apple...

RE: Read this!
By ebakke on 10/6/2009 10:18:36 AM , Rating: 2
Like Mick is any more credible...

There. Fixed.

RE: Read this!
By chrnochime on 10/6/2009 11:01:21 AM , Rating: 4
How is that different from what he wrote anyway?

And here I thought G**modo is the one who worships all that is Apple.

RE: Read this!
By damianrobertjones on 10/6/2009 10:24:26 AM , Rating: 2
Blimey, if you think that they're bad, try Reg Hardware. Stopped reading a month ago.

RE: Read this!
By nafhan on 10/6/2009 9:40:19 AM , Rating: 3
So, no lawsuit.
Apple filed a notice of opposition to Woolworth's trademark back in March, and no one in the media noticed until just recently.

RE: Read this!
By headbox on 10/6/09, Rating: -1
RE: Read this!
By gstrickler on 10/6/2009 1:09:17 PM , Rating: 2
No lawsuit. In fact, this is just routine trademark protection that happens many thousands of times per year (typically only a few times for each sizeable business). The following paragraph from the article explains it very well.
Trademark lawyer, Trevor Choy, though, says he sees nothing wrong with Apple trying to proactively legally challenge any company with an apple fruit-related logo. He states, "They are just covering off any eventualities. This is often the prelude to settling [the matter]. I doubt it'll go all the way unless, of course, Woolworths decides that they want to go into computers … I doubt Apple expects to win."
In short, there's nothing to see here and this doesn't deserve any news coverage at this time. You can stop the Apple bashing any time, I can assure you your favorite large company (regardless of which company that may be) does the same thing several times a year, it's just part of the process of protecting a trademark.

RE: Read this!
By swizeus on 10/6/2009 3:25:00 PM , Rating: 2
but filing and responding to oppositions is something that any trademark attorney does quite frequently, and it's not like Apple's aggressively suing anyone here. It's just part of the process.

I like Apple but...
By pcfxer on 10/6/2009 8:48:48 AM , Rating: 5
...wth? A music festival isn't YOUR industry. A Green Project IS NOT YOUR INDUSTRY! A Woolsworth is NOT your industry!

Green Projects don't make computers, music players, sell music online and they don't manufacture anything - ergo, they are not YOUR competitor and can even NAME themselve's Apple - the green project, if they wanted to.

THAT is THE LAW. C'mon Apple, guys...really? I like to include OSX into the *BSD family so can you just absorb some of that character ;).

RE: I like Apple but...
By mmntech on 10/6/2009 10:19:27 AM , Rating: 2
It's a little ironic considering Apple Inc. was in a long dispute with Apple Corp. over the same thing. It's a good case for tort law reform. Large corporations, which should know better, are filing too many frivolous lawsuits.

I can understand the music poster, because of iTunes, but Woolworths? No person in their right mind is going to confuse the two, or even notice. Actually, I'm more shocked that Woolworths is still around.

Enough already
By mydogfarted on 10/6/2009 10:16:07 AM , Rating: 3
Jeebus Jason... did uncle Steve touch you in the naughty spot when you were little? We get it, you hate Apple and Steve Jobs. Seek therapy.

RE: Enough already
By sweetsauce on 10/6/2009 10:41:49 AM , Rating: 2
HAHAHAHA never thought i'd see the day where Jason would be accused of hating apple. You must be new here...

RE: Enough already
By Spookster on 10/6/2009 6:42:55 PM , Rating: 2
We are talking about Jason Mickrosoft here. He only posts 2 types of articles. Ones that praise Microsoft and ones that diss all other competing companies.

By bradmshannon on 10/6/2009 8:37:28 AM , Rating: 2
That's it, I'm never eating an apple again!

RE: Stupid
By theslug on 10/6/2009 12:38:09 PM , Rating: 2
What about the fruit?

RE: Stupid
By araknioid on 10/6/2009 5:17:35 PM , Rating: 2
I've cut out a holographic pear and stuck it over the Dell logo on my laptop, do you think apple could sue if apple design like 'pears' laptop covers became available?

How can they?
By Ristogod on 10/6/2009 9:11:07 AM , Rating: 3
How can they claim rights to apples? For Christ's sake, Apples from nature were here first and represent all that is good and right with the world. Apple the company is a soulless entity that represents all that is immoral and depraved.

For all the complaining I've seen over the years about Microsoft, Microsoft can't hold a card in comparison to Apple and their absolutely disgusting and revolting business practices.

RE: How can they?
By AntiM on 10/6/2009 2:17:08 PM , Rating: 2
Apple knows there's no way in hell that they have a chance of proving that Woolworth's logo will confuse people. However, they also know that if they don't occasionally defend their logo whenever possible, they will lose any credibility in any possible future litigations.

By StevoLincolnite on 10/6/2009 9:30:40 AM , Rating: 2
It is possible that Woolsworths and Apple could compete in the consumer electronics or computer market, as the retailer sells a variety of electronics, akin to Walmart or Target in the U.S.

Ugh, get your facts right, "Woolworths" doesn't compete with Walmart/Target or Kmart, in-fact it's a completely different store, in-fact I don't think I have ever seen my local Woolworths sell a TV/Computer, I have seen cheapo' DVD players on sale there though, but that's hardly a "Massive range of electronics".

Woolworths = Sells Produce.
Woolworths Limited = The company that owns Woolworths.
Big W = Woolworths Limited Electronics/Computer retailer.

As for the lawsuit... It will probably get laughed out of court, if it even reaches there.
Our "Laws" might be similar but generally stupid things like this that go through court end up in "Epic Phail" territory.

RE: Er.
By Captin Crunch on 10/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Er.
By StevoLincolnite on 10/6/2009 12:40:07 PM , Rating: 2
Article got corrected, so now most of my post is a non-issue. :)

Remove the extra is in company name
By DrZoidberg on 10/6/2009 9:54:21 AM , Rating: 1
I think some of the comments already alluded to this but the company is NOT "Woolsworths" but Woolworths. There is no 's' after the Wool part. I know cause I live in Australia.

Wikipedia link.

Woolworths does sell electronics but under a different name. They own all Dick Smith and Tandy Electronic stores.

By DrZoidberg on 10/6/2009 10:01:09 AM , Rating: 2
Well I made a typo (searches for edit) :\
I meant "Remove the extra s in company name"

If this succeeds, bye bye logos
By kroker on 10/7/2009 12:18:00 PM , Rating: 3
If Apple succeeds in making Woolworth change their logo, then no logo is safe anymore. If they can convince anyone that that "W" looks like an apple, then pretty much any new logo will be in danger because it will vaguely look like some already existing logo.

This is absolutely ridiculous. Seriously, how much of an idiot would you have to be to confuse the Woolworth logo with the Apple logo?

What's funny is...
By gmljosea on 10/6/2009 8:48:21 AM , Rating: 2
That they don't even sell apples...

Dear Apple,
By ipay on 10/6/2009 9:06:05 AM , Rating: 2
Please pis$ off.
My company logo is a banana, and I'm suing every man on earth.

By room200 on 10/6/2009 9:12:38 AM , Rating: 2
They should sue Adam and Eve.

Sued? Really?
By Statzere on 10/6/2009 9:14:19 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think anyone is getting "sued" here...

"Apple, Woolworths in Australian trademark dispute, media in hysterically confused panic"

By JoeHobot on 10/6/2009 10:08:41 AM , Rating: 2
It's clearly visible that Green "Apple" is letter W for Wollsworths I don't see reason Apple going after them.

It's kind of ironic how Apple appears on every single page now and most likely with drama.

When you thin: They rather pay few hundred grand for lawsuit that they are going to lose anyways than millions for ads.

See everyone is now talking about Apple and it's all free. Daily Tech posted and ummmm about 3500 other bloggers making few million of audience for free.

Come on people it's clear as Chrystal!

Apple sux
By Zingam on 10/6/2009 11:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
Are they nuts? They could sue anybody who bites an apple next!!!

By Smilin on 10/6/2009 11:25:04 AM , Rating: 2
Note: If you don't want people imitating your logo then make sure your logo isn't one of the most common pieces of produce in America.

Jobs thinks he fvcking invented the apple or something. He'll probably sue God for putting one in the garden of eden.

By The Raven on 10/6/2009 11:54:37 AM , Rating: 2
...before choosing an icon from a story that is in the public domain (i.e Snow White)!!

Apple shouldn't win this case any more than a Disney v. Apple would bear fruit.

Apple is a joke
By masamasa on 10/6/2009 1:36:13 PM , Rating: 2
Give me a break! Global patented rights to any apple-type logo even remotely similar to an apple? You've got to be kidding me. Apple's arrogance is enough to make me never buy a PC from them or any other Mac related product for that matter. They are 100 times worse than Microsoft with their slandering ads, proprietary everything, and their 'must buy from us only' attitude. One more example of a shameful company with bullying tactics. Pathetic.

By scrapsma54 on 10/6/2009 2:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
Ok, DT, give me a break, all these accusations are seeming too outrageous to be true. While I despise the impersonal connection to apple, I feel you are all parading us around on some rumors and speculations like a paparazzi jamboree in silicon valley.

By Codeman03xx on 10/6/2009 4:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
Soon you won't be able to buy a Macintosh Apple because they are so freaking retarded about suing everyone. Give it up apple. You don't see Microsoft suing everyone i think everyone should sue Apple for false advertisement. Apple is not stronger, faster, or less prone to viruses than windows is, in fact its more prone because they update less than windows does on security. Hell they called the IPHONE NOT FOR BUSINESS.

By bribud on 10/7/2009 1:01:47 PM , Rating: 2
Well I guess they could also sue Gwyneth Paltrow for naming her child Apple?

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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