Print 55 comment(s) - last by bribud.. on Oct 7 at 1:01 PM

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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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.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan
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