Apple's logo lunacy: 5 previous trademark tiffs

Apple wants to keep Woolworths Supermarkets from putting an apple into its logo. It's not Apple's first image-driven fight
  • (PC World (US online))
  • — 06 October, 2009 09:36

Well, Apple's at it again. The company that never fails to galvanize the masses has stirred up a fresh debate with its latest logo controversy.

Apple, in case you've yet to hear, is taking on Woolworths over a new logo the supermarket chain has cooked up. The logo shows a "W" stylized into an abstract apple-like shape, leading Apple to contend the look is too similar to its own apple-shaped symbol.

Apple's logo lunacy

This isn't the first time Apple's gotten into a fight over its company's beloved image -- far from it. Here are five other trademark tiffs Jobs' team has found itself involved in over the years.

1. Apple vs. The Beatles

Apple's logo lunacy

The Cupertino crew and the Fab Four fought for decades over the rights to the apple logo and name. The quarrel started back in 1978, when The Beatles' company, Apple Corps, sued Apple for trademark infringement. Apple ended the argument by paying $80,000 and agreeing never to enter the music business -- a promise that, needless to say, didn't last long.

A second settlement followed in 1991, when Macs started including MIDI software. That time, Apple paid a reported $26.5 million in a settlement that gave it the rights to use the apple logo for computer- and software-related products. Of course, once iTunes came around, things got dicey again. A third settlement further defined how both companies could use the name and image.

Ironically, in this case, Apple argued that the public was intelligent enough to be able to distinguish between its logo and Apple Corps' differently colored apple symbol. Looking at the next four cases -- not to mention this week's Woolworths battle -- one can't help but wonder when that logic slipped away.

2. Apple vs. GreeNYC

Apple's logo lunacy

Apple moved to the offensive side of the ring in 2008, when the company cried out over New York City's use of an apple in its GreeNYC environmental campaign. The GreeNYC logo, Apple alleged, could cause "consumer confusion resulting in damage and injury" to Apple, along with "dilution of the distinctiveness" of Apple's trademark.

New York City's response: "The city believes that Apple's claims have no merit and that no consumer is likely to be confused. ... This well-known city is using its new design in a variety of contexts that have absolutely nothing to do with Apple Inc."

The New York Times, fittingly, summed it up well: "They've got to be kidding."

3. Apple vs. the Victoria School of Business and Technology

Apple's logo lunacy

Also in 2008, Apple took on Canada's Victoria School of Business and Technology over its apple-shaped logo. The company sent the school a cease and desist letter (PDF), according to VSBT's Web site, that demanded it drop the logo from its identity.

"Your business logo ... reproduces, without authority, our client's Apple design logo which it widely uses. By doing so, you are infringing Apple's rights, and further, falsely suggesting that Apple has authorized your activities," Apple's letter to the institution reportedly read.

"Are you suggesting that anyone using any variation of an apple for technology education is infringing on Apple's trademark?" the school's president responded (PDF).

I'm still awaiting that answer.

4. Apple vs. Adults Only

Apple's logo lunacy

Apple is currently in the midst of fighting Adults Only, a pornographic channel run by Australia's Foxtel, according to a story published in The Sydney Morning Herald. The Adults Only logo shown on the official Foxtel Web site involves a small red apple nestled within a stylized letter "S."

Wow. The resemblance is uncanny -- at least, if you're speaking in a purely sarcastic sense.

5. Apple vs. Poison Apple

Apple's also attacking a music festival promoter called Poison Apple, The Herald reports. According to the paper, the promoter's logo shows a bitten apple sitting on top of crossed bones.

So, my question: What's next -- Apple suing God because the fruit is too similar to its logo?

Hey, you just never know.

JR Raphael poses plenty of questions at eSarcasm, his garden of geek humor. You can keep up with him on Twitter: @jr_raphael.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

JR Raphael

PC World (US online)
Topics: Apple, trademarks
Comments are now closed.

Latest News Articles

Most Popular Articles

Follow Us

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Resources

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Compare & Save

Deals powered by WhistleOut
WhistleOut

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?