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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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.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins
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