Now Apple has filed an equally
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.
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."
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.