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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: Manataka.com)
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
Exactly!


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
quote:
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. ;-)

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

quote:
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.

quote:
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?


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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