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The Apple Name Game

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  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lshmael (603746) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:13AM (#4787437) Homepage
    I know at least one person is going to bash me for this, but if you were founding a company, wouldn't you try to come up with an original name? I mean, there are a telecommunications company, so it is possible that they could be mistaken for Apple.
    • The original Apple (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Latent Heat (558884)
      Wasn't Apple Records the original "Apple." The Beatles became important enough to have their own record label (apart from their own stuff, that "Those were the days, my friend" song was the only thing they came out with). I suppose the name "Apple" was this kind of Beatles, perhaps John Lennon thing: never explained but meant to suggest getting back to nature or to first principles as in the apple in the Garden of Eden.

      Harry Shearer and Eric Idles "Ruttles" had a record label named "Banana" as documented in "All You Need is Cash." Gosh I wish they should show that satire-special again -- it was such a hoot and one is sure to pick up more of the jokes a second time around.

      I am hard pressed that if there wasn't an Apple record label with all of the feel-good associated with the Beatles that Jobs and Woz would have called their computer something else. Why do you suppose Apple Computer got a free ride? Yes, a computer company and a record label (at least at the time) were completely different businesses, but Jobs would be coy to suggest that his Apple had no connection to the Beatles Apple and that he wasn't trying to make a connection in people's minds.

      • Actually, Apple computers was named that for entirely different reasons. Jobs wondered into the meeting where they were going to figure out a name for the company and plonked an apple on the table. Then he said that if they hadn't got a name everybody agreed on after two hours, they'd call it fater the apple. So guess what happened.
        • P. J. O'Rourke talks about working of a newspaper names "Harry" in his hippy days. The name had similar origins, and it probably seemed so profound when enough Cannabis Sativa was smoked. Calling any kind of non-food product "Apple" for no obvious reason is such a hippy thing, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, and so you are trying to tell me that two groups of hippy business people came up with "Apple" independently? That a hippy like Jobs (he is all business suits nowadays, but try and tell me that Jobs was such a geek he had no connection to the popular culture) never heard of Apple Records.

          You may be right, but your tale may be a cover story told by Jobs.

      • by david duncan scott (206421) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @11:00AM (#4787575)
        I guess you've forgotten, but Apple also released some James Taylor, Badfinger, Ravi Shankar, Jackie Lomax, and the Modern Jazz Quartet, as well as, yes, Mary Hopkin.

        As for naming the computer company, well, this was the year when "Kentucky Fried Computer" seemed like a reasonable name, as did "Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia". Maybe it was the Bicentennial fever which gripped us all...

      • by nullard (541520) <nullprogram@@@voicesinmyhead...cc> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @11:06AM (#4787603) Journal
        Don't forget, Apple Computer was sued by Apple Records over their name. Only when Apple Computer promissed never to enter the recording business were they allowed to keep the name. When the first Macintosh with a microphone shipped, they added a new system alert sound called sosumi. So sue me.
    • by Sheetrock (152993) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:26AM (#4787485) Homepage Journal
      Just about anything you can easily think of in English is bound to be claimed by someone out there. One-off attempts such as using a generic name appended to another generic name (X-Windows, Apple Telecommunications) are obviously coming under fire by the folks who own the generic names. Even making up something off the top of your head can open you to misfortune [altriahealthcare.com], because there are that many businesses out there.

      Zlnasdng Telecommunications? Possible, but it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue...

      • by Flamesplash (469287) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:45AM (#4787539) Homepage Journal
        A lot of large companies will higher a consulting firm to come up with a name for them.

        NPR had a story [npr.org] about this a couple months ago about how hard it is to come up with a company name now adays. The main problem, as already stated, is that most english words are already taken. So actually finding a meaningful word or combination of words is really really hard.

        When there are no real words left, the firm then gets to make up a word that brings out the values of the company, while not sounding to outlandish. It's actually rather interesting how random sounds put together can make someone thing a particular thing when it has no real basis in english. I'm guessing it's based a lot on roots and prefix's used in english.

        All in all though, such a firm should be responsible for making sure the name is not already taken.
      • That's what lawyers are actually for (rather than sueing everything that moves). A quick trademark search in the exact industry isn't enough these days and anyone who gets an off the shelf company planning to be the next big thing should perhaps budget in some good trademark lawyers in there formation plans. There are words, combinations of words, and made up words out there. Creativity may be needed but checking definately is.

        I agree with the origional comment. Three years back he formed a company called "apple xxxxxx" working in an area quite closely bound to hardware and software developement/sales. Cry me a river.
      • There is no such thing as X-Windows. It's X, X11, or the X Window System.
    • Re:Well... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by uberdood (154108)
      Did you read the article? Did your moderator read the article?

      Originally from Hong Kong, he started Apple three years ago to challenge mobile phone company Orange.

      Of course, the amusing thing about this is there used to be an Apple ][ clone called "Orange".
  • by Vexler (127353) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:13AM (#4787438) Journal
    ...all the grocery stands, supermarkets, and open-air markets would have to pay the Big A for using their name on all the produce tags.
    • Actually, the article specifically indicates that fruiterers are excepted from the scope of Apple's trademarks.

      But what about a company called "Apple Clothing" ? Or "Apple Tampons" ? Should these too be subject to litigation by Apple Computer at their whim ?
  • sheesh... (Score:4, Funny)

    by skydude_20 (307538) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:13AM (#4787441) Journal
    People fighting over generic names of fruits, whats next?!? people fighting over generic names of holes, like windows???
  • by NineNine (235196)
    MS was trying to stop other software producers from using the name "Windows". Apple, on the other hand, wants to stop *anybody* from using the name "Apple". Talk about aggressive! They make MS's lawyers look tame by comparison. Now that's a company using OSS to be proud of!
    • No, better than MS (Score:5, Informative)

      by MacAndrew (463832) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:56AM (#4787568) Homepage
      I know the attorneys, and the company that employs them, look like assholes when they zealously protect the name -- a reason I couldn't do this kind of work -- but they have to or they'll get screwed in court by someone else. Look at the MS problem with Windows -- Lindows et al. with delicious irony retaliate by attacking all Windows branding. Note that one step in their argument was to submit a list of companies using Window in their name apparently without interference from MS. MS may have blown it, a major catastrophe for them. (Personally I think the name Lindows walks the line of -- a lot of "ordinary people" might reasonably think it's a Microsoft product.) The same could happen to Apple -- every company named Apple could be a nail in the coffin of the trademark.

      As someone here has probably mentioned, Apple had early problems with Apple Records, Lennon's company IIRC, and settled by promising not to get into the music business. They got sued when they started doing MIDI; I'm not sure how that was resolved.

      So, they do come across as assholes, and maybe they are, but they are trying to protect legitimate business interests, not just flex corporate muscle. Pretty much every case looks like intemperate bullshit, but that's how it works because a trademark dies the death of a thousand cuts. Look at cellophane and aspirin and the other famous lapsed trademarks. A protected trademark, unlike copyright, is immortal.

      There are some things about being an 800 lb. gorilla that just have to smell bad. I don't like it -- just check out the sprawling list of reserved names, some not even in use on the Apple site. Microsoft much have an even longer one.

      Anything you don't sue can and will be used against you in a court of law. Branding does protect the consumer, and keeps ripoff artists at bay, but I would welcome a solution to these petty skirmishes. Perhaps it would make sense to license the name out under the right circumstances of honest overlap, without waiver of Apple's primary rights. I don't know whether this is done, though I can imagine some pitfalls.
      • Look at cellophane and aspirin and the other famous lapsed trademarks. A protected trademark, unlike copyright, is immortal.

        Not so. Bayer lost the trademark to aspirin in reparations after World War I. Beware of considering any human invention immortal.
        • Bayer still considers it trademarked judging from all the ® warts here [aspirin.com]. No, I can't explain it.

          Interesting about WWI, I had not heard that. I heard how well reparations worked out, though. What a headache.
          • Ah (Score:5, Interesting)

            by MacAndrew (463832) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @11:44AM (#4787776) Homepage
            I read a bit of the Bayer site, which says:
            Today, Aspirin® is a registered trademark of Bayer AG in Germany and more than 80 other countries. In countries where Aspirin® is not protected by trademark status, such as the United States, the term Aspirin® can be used generically for all products containing the active substance acetylsalicylic acid. However, genuine Aspirin®, renowned the world over, is only available with the Bayer Cross.

            But this site [www.ul.ie] claims:
            After WWI the trademark was lost by Germany in the USA, UK and France (the victors) where aspirin has entered the language as a generic name. In 1994 Bayer bought back the Bayer Aspirin trademark in the USA from Sterling Drug, who had held it since 1918.

            I suppose it is "Bayer Aspirin" that is trademarked. Interesting.

            And my original point about genericide [inta.org] stands. Try thermos or trampoline or kerosene.
      • That Apple versus Apple case has to be the most misquoted trial in computer-dom (except Apple versus Microsoft maybe).

        Now, you may be right that it was MIDI, but going through google I've also seen Quicktime, Hypercard, sound out, CDRoms, and sound in capabilities get hit.

        So what is it? Anybody got the real answer? Maybe it IS MIDI?
  • by LostCluster (625375) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:14AM (#4787445)
    In Europe, there's also a telecomm company by the name of Orange. It appears their first selection of Apple Communications was the opposite of Orange, and now their second choice of Green is as well.
  • Name fight lives on (Score:4, Informative)

    by class_A (324713) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:17AM (#4787459)

    I seem to remember Apple has been through a name fight [brighternaming.com] before...

    • What they don't mention is that when Apple did release the Mac, they named one of the system sounds Sosume /So-sue-me/, basically laughing at Apple recording.
      • Re:Sosume (Score:4, Funny)

        by Pig Hogger (10379) <pig.hogger@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @04:39PM (#4789188) Journal
        What they don't mention is that when Apple did release the Mac, they named one of the system sounds Sosume /So-sue-me/, basically laughing at Apple recording.
        They also had a prototype of a machine named Sagan , in honour of the astonomer. But it fell on deaf ears, and Carl Sagan promptly sued them. They renamed the prototype BHA , for " Butt-Headed Asstronomer". Sagan sued again, but this time, the courts told him to chill out.
    • by Sri Lumpa (147664) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:25AM (#4787481) Homepage

      With names like Ogg and Vorbis it is much easier to establish a trademark given that they are completely invented name (oh! wait! Maybe they are words in another langage?). And given the controversy inside Free Software circles it gives them much marketing for free.

      BTW, on close view I am for Apple on this one, I really think they will win against Apple ;).
  • Please (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Frederique Coq-Bloqu (628621) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:18AM (#4787462) Journal
    capitalize the words 'Australia' and 'Apple' when posting a story to the front page. Thank you.
  • so what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Shymon (624690)
    Apple finds a company riping off it's name. The offending company changes it's name. this happens all the time in the buisness world, just look at all the name changes power companies with Edison in their name make to avoid copying someone elses name.
  • by TellarHK (159748) <tellarhk.hotmail@com> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:18AM (#4787465) Homepage Journal
    We love Apple, we hate Apple... Argh, why must this company be so fucking schizophrenic in how it treats people? C'mon, Apple! Make up your mind, are you an asshole megacorp-wannabe or a company that tries to do What's Right(tm) by people? I just... don't... get it.

    Steve. Seriously. Are you a real prick or do you just play one in the courtroom?
    • Apples problem is that they have a lot of extremely vicious lawyers working for them, which for no good reason at all they have kept around for years.

      I expect that in the absence of anything really happening at Apple that needs them, in order to justify their wages they go around causing hassle for people. This strikes me as almost certainly some lawyer in Cupertino thinking "hmm, what can I do today". It's utterly stupid, because it simply gives Apple a worse name than they already have, for no return at all.

      The solution is just to fire almost all the lawyers and hire them in on a contract basis as needed. But Jobs doesn't do this. Does that make Apple a bad company? Yes, I think it does, as regardless of the internal structure, you have to judge a company by what it does. Some people like Apples products, great. But they are still a bad company looking at them in terms of their actions.

    • Its not the company its Steve, he's a power hungry attention grabbing tyrant. If he's not fighting over a name, he's engineering a takeover (like how he took over apple after apple bought Next [gtalumni.org]), or he's ticking off vital partners like ATI by removing all mention of ATI products with a black marker on all literature just hours before macworld because somebody leaked that two new machines were going to be released but no details. Or, more recently revoking [businessweek.com] press passes to mac journalists.

      Apple is Steve's persona.... and it tends to be a lot of controlled show... once you talk with people who have worked with companies that deal with apple you start to see a not soo nice picture of what the company really is...

    • by Anonymous Coward
      What everyone here seems to lose sight of, or simply is ignorant of is that once you have a trademark, you are obliged to follow up every possible violation of that trademark no matter how small. Owning a trademark myself, I know this. It is a frustrating battle, especially when everyone thinks that by doing very necessary things to protect your investment in a trademark (Apples is, of course, much more heavily invested in theirs than I am to mine) you are being unreasonable and anal.

      If Apple doesn't do this, the set precedence by their inaction which allows other companies to more agressively exploit their brand. If Apple waivers in this, they could lose their brand identity, not to Apple Communications, but to the other companies that take advantage of any leniency Apple shows here.

      I seriously don't believe Jobs, or Gates even notices when these things happen. They look out for their bottom line and let their legal divisions take the necessary steps to protect their brand identity. Just because you don't see Apple Communications as a threat doesn't mean that it isn't....it's a precedent that if overlooked begins the erosion of Apple's property.
    • For-profit companies that remain viable entities do so because they understand that the primary purpose of a corporation is to make money. Understanding this clarifies why they act the way they do. If they can make money by being decent to people, then they will do that. If being complete jack-holes will make money, then they will do that. Note that these are not necessarily exclusive, companies can be both in different situations or even to different groups of people at the same time.

      Apple is no different than any other corporation. Sometimes it is in their "interest" to be nice and sometimes it isn't. But you can understand why if you understand their purpose. (even if you disagree with what they do) Apple doesn't exist to make you feel warm and fuzzy. If they do, it is only because it is in their financial interest to do so.
  • Apple Communications (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mattygfunk1 (596840) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:22AM (#4787469)
    Apple Communications may be small but they are at least providing extremely good value for their broadband service.


    They are one of the VERY few companies offering unlimited broadband downloads in a country full of 3 Gig caps.


    -----


    slashdot needs a google topic catagory [katrinagalleries.com.au]

    • And you can count on their service being swamped by leechers in the coming months, resulting in either a) a sudden change to their pricing or a download cap, or b) them going out of business.

      For what it's worth, Telstra's broadband services started out as unlimited.
    • There's the foul ball, however. It'd be one thing if Apple Communications were a pure phone company, but the moment they start offering a computer-based service, it's hard to argue that the average person will be able to keep the two companies straight.
  • Apple Records for infringement... It's not like they're using it anyways. Two of the guys are dead!
  • by JayBonci (92015) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:26AM (#4787488)
    They may neglect to mention a certain Apple Records [everything2.com] that they had to pay off to stay in business. From what I have been told, the very famous MacOS sound "SoSuMi" was derived from that experience. "So sue me."

    And how quickly they turn the other cheek.

    They used to be:
    Applecomm.com.au [applecomm.com.au], but on the frontpage there is an announcement regarding the settlement and the change to iGreen [igreen.com.au].

    I can certainly forgive them for their apples being sour.

    The only upside of this is if Apple Communications would have become an ISP (not entirely far fetched). The name Apple Internet Access or Apple Broadband could certainly be too close for comfort, and would enjoy at least a small amount of probable name association; the very thing these sorts of suits are trying to protect against. It's a tough situation on either end of the boot.

    --jay
    • Didn't "so sue me" spin out of the butthead astronomer clash?
      • Re:"so sue me" (Score:5, Informative)

        by Arcturax (454188) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @11:23AM (#4787665)
        No it didn't. It was from the Apple Records case.

        What you are thinking of is when Apple used "Carl Sagan" as an internal code word for a product and the real Carl Sagan sued (or threatened to sue). So they changed it to "BHA" which stood for "Butt Head Astronomer". Sagan then sued (or at least threatened to sue) again and then finally changed it to LAW "Lawyers are Wimps."
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:32AM (#4787501) Homepage
    This sort of thing seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon--particularly cases in which big corporations go after small local companies in totally different businesses.

    What has changed that suddenly makes it important for big companies to go around breaking butterflies on the wheel?

    Is it just that the Internet makes it easier for big companies to search for and locate small companies with similar names?

    (Anyone remember Infocom having to change the name of their game newsletter, "The New Zork Times" because the New York Times' lawyers said people could confuse the two?)
    • There is a fairly easy explanation for this. In the soaring 90's, these companies made more revenue than they could ever imagine because people bought each and every product from them.

      Now that the computer market has become highly saturated and the economy in a recession, companies will try to offset their losses by exploring new ways to make some money. When Apple or Microsoft go after these people, they hope they will fight against it and make way for a settlement. The company pays Microsoft (or Apple resp.) an undisclosed amount of money and in return Microsoft (or Apple) promises not to sue them.

      The point of these cease-and-desist letters, trademark and patent lawsuits, etc. is not necessarily to stop other companies but to extort as much cash as possible. Makes perfect business sense to me.
    • by LostCluster (625375) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @11:16AM (#4787635)
      The growth of the Internet also makes it possible to hear about stories that otherwise might not have been reported stateside. I mean, this was a rather minor case that happened half the world away from the USA, yet it's being reported on a USA-centric site. Just like other news events, we seem to think that the frequency an event happening is the same as the frequency of the media reporting the event. Last year's "increase" in child abductions was such a case, actual cases did not increase, but the rollout of the Amber Alert system in many states gave police a process that notifed all of the local news outlets. Suddenly, child abductions went from a story in segment B of the newscast to a breaking story that disrupted programming. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all have deals with groups of local stations take from their coverage, so a local special report can quickly go national on a slow news day. The public sees several reports on child abductions in a short time frame and thinks there's a crisis going on, when really the risk of the tradegy hasn't changed or is being driven down because a once ignored problem is getting so much attention.
    • Apple sells online storage, file sharing, web hosting, email addresses, photo albums, and backup services.

      Apple .Mac

      It's not a pretty law, but Apple does have an obligation to shareholders to protect the name and brand that Apple has developed for the last 26+ years, or lose the trademark.

      What's your name? Your real life given name? What would happen if someone else just 'took' your name and got a new credit card? The basic idea is the same, identity fraud and riding the coattails of someone else with a good name, rather than using your own. Apple may not have a choice in this, just like you wouldn't have a choice in defending *your* name.
  • by sg3000 (87992) <sg_public@m[ ]com ['ac.' in gap]> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:35AM (#4787509)
    Apple is only obligated to go after trademark infringements by companies that are in similar industries. So, of course, they're not going to go after your local grocery store, carpet cleaning services, towing companies, maid services, or whatever else stuck "Apple" in their name so they'd be in the front of the phone book.

    But a telecommunications company is fair game since Apple does telecommunications. With the convergence of computers and traditional telephony (e.g. VoIP, modems, 2.4 GHz wireless, DSL), the two industries are becoming basically the same thing these days.

    Remember that Apple has one of the top 10 most recognized trademarks, and there are a lot of companies that wish to make some money (through name recognition) off that trademark. At the same time, they hope to mount a sympathy defense by citing how small they are.

    I think he certainly knew what what he was doing when he named his company. I wouldn't be surprised if he hoped that Apple would buy him out to settle the naming rights in Australia (much the same way Microsoft did with "Internet Explorer), but they already had the global naming rights. After that didn't happen, he probably figured a $100,000 settlement is pretty cheap to get nationwide publicity for his company. He gets a newspaper article about him, and the sympathy of misguided trademark-haters around the world.
    • But a telecommunications company is fair game since Apple does telecommunications.

      I don't buy that. Apple do hardware: computers and MP3 players in fact. Where can I sign up for Apple network connectivity? They haven't even announced any intention to be in that business.

      Apple Communications sells a service, namely bandwidth. Apple Computer sells hardware. Yes, I know they sell .Mac as well, but webmail services are not the same as bandwidth.

      • by MacAndrew (463832) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @11:13AM (#4787622) Homepage
        You never heard all the proposals for an Apple branded ISP? (I don't remember where that went; maybe they realized they didn't want to be AOL.) .Mac has all the features of a typicals ISP account except the connectivity. And, there's always future expansion to protect.
        • Nah, I didn't, but I don't follow the mac rumour scene.

          Anyway, possible intention to expand isn't grounds for this kind of legal harassment. Any company could pretty much decide to do anything in future - if they aren't in an industry then they can't really target other companies called Apple in different industries.

          • But they are in the same industry, if you look at IT as the industry...

            To even more sharply define it, though, you could consider that they are both in telecommunications - considering that Apple has Apple Remote Access, Sherlock, and of course Airport, etc. They do have connectivity, just not the base wires.

            -T

          • Possible intention is pretty weak, you're right. But the infringement inquiry is case-by-case, and complex [chillingeffects.org].

            Besides, how serious is Apple? A lot of times the lawyers will send out a C&D just to be cautious and establish a paper trail.
          • However, if they are in an adjacent industry, it becomes possible that the public might think that the Apple ISP is the same company that makes Apple Computers. The computer company doesn't need to ever intend to offer ISP services, they just need to be in a position where the public would believe that anybody who offered an Apple-branded ISP to be them. That's the whole point of trademark protection, that another entity cannot confuse the public into thinking that they are you.
        • by Phroggy (441)
          It was called eWorld, and it died quietly because nobody wanted it. It would have been similar to AOL, except not annoying.
      • You used to be able to, back in the days of '94 to '96. Called eWorld. The dissolved it and sent the customers off with AOL accounts.
    • Apple is only obligated to go after trademark infringements by companies that are in similar industries.

      I don't think that's true for a couple of reasons off the top of my head. The first is dilution, cases where the name in an unrelated field (usually porn) makes the trademarks holder look bad, as in the Candyland case. Second, failing to protect its copyright could hamper Apple's future attempt to expand. It's certainly not unheard of for a company to expand by buying up businesses in other industries; Microsoft sure has, as has virtually every big company I can think of. (When times are bad you suddenly hear about their long-forgotten "core business.")

      Apple Records was the original bully here, perhaps Apple is still smarting from that lesson.

      As I mention in a parallel post, trademark holders, especially bg ambitious companies, have to be bloodthirsty. And I think that sucks, but don't doubt that it is true too often to be careless.

      I parrot the law, I don't write it. :)
  • Apple, and all large companies, NEED to defend thier trademarks religiously. And while some people may think they are out to crush the little guy the opposite is actually true.

    If a company doesn't defend it's trademark then it can lose it. If a large company ignores a competitor or possible competitor that coulds dilute it's trademark then they run the risk of losing the trademark to every other company that wants to use it.

    So while some people may see this as Apple being a bully, I view it the other way. If Apple doesn't vigorously defend even the smallest possible dilution then that could open up the door and some judge could rule against Apple later.
  • by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrog AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:38AM (#4787523) Homepage Journal
    ...going to be over their choice of domain name: iGreen.com.au. These guys must enjoy being in court.

    Internet copyright lawyers are generally iTools about stuff like this.

  • Green is being sued by a man named "Green Giant" and so is changing it's name to "Fish Communications" only to be sued by Capt. Highliner, the rock band Fysh, and Microsoft (for using the word "communications".)



    Later at discovery it was discovered that there are no words left to trademark, period. (tm)

    • Later at discovery it was discovered that there are no words left to trademark, period. (tm)

      Please don't use the word "period" in order to make a point. That's trademarked (See below). Our trademark will be enforced vigorously. Thank you.

      - The NineNine Legal Team
  • by bgfay (5362) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:40AM (#4787527) Homepage
    I'm concerned that Linux is not going to make it to the big time for one simple reason. While coders are working on the system, developers are writing applications, and the press is writing about Linux, there is no concerted effort by a central group that is pursuing important lawsuits against those who use the word "Linux," the syllable "lin," or the letter L in their product names. Further, the penquins at are zoo are labeled as such without any notice that they are not related to or shareholders of a Linux company. I for one am confused by these misleading names and animals and I am sure that if they aren't stopped, and I mean soon, Linux is sure to fade into obscurity.

    Can't someone do anything about this problem before it's too late? And why isn't Linus leading the legal fight? What's he got that is more important to work on?
    • Those who forget the past [slashdot.org] are condemned.

      And Linus (first name basis!) does have better things to do ... so he hires lawyers for the same reason I hire someone to change the oil in my car. Sure, I could do it without getting too dirty ... maybe.
  • by bain (1910) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @10:43AM (#4787535) Homepage Journal
    Apple computers is sueing New York for $ 100 billion Dollors for using "The Big Apple" to promite the city. A spokes person for Apple (computers) said "New York is obviosly using our good name to lure overpriced high earning apple users to new york and get rid of the bad apples already there"

    As the saying goes. One bad apple spoils the bunch.
    • ...I'd sue on grounds of trademark tarnishment. I mean, have you been to NYC in the last 20 years?

      Before I get flamed, I add: New York City, there's no place on earth like it. :)
  • by grundie (220908)
    The popular beat combo known as The Beatles own their own company which manages all their affairs and rights. This company happens to be called Apple Corp and it has been going internationally since the 1960's. Its logo also happens to be an apple with a bite out of it.

    Methinks Apple computer should bear in mind there were companies called Apple in existence long before it came in to being, before it goes after anyone with the word apple in their name.
  • Apple Core sent a link to an article [...] about apple fighting for their name with some little telco called Apple Communications

    Well, I always enjoyed a good apple fight. It seems more fair than dragging lawyers into it.

  • For some reason I have always found humour in a company that competes with apple named pear. Probably because of their fruitness. This isn't exactly related I guess but imagine a computer maker named:

    Pear

    They just released the Pear Barlett pBook. It runs Anjou OS X. It is fast and sexy.

    You like?
  • How can you blame Apple for fighting this company? Apple has spent large amounts of money to promote their name, logo, trademarks, etc. Most people do not see a difference between computers and telecommunications. You can't tell me that Apple Communications wasn't hoping to gain some quick name recognition by using "Apple" in their name. I can see it now..."Gee, it says Apple so it must be real easy to use, I know I saw that on TV yesterday."

    Besides doesn't trademark law say that if you don't actively protect your trademarks then you can't complain when someone starts using them? Purely from a legal standpoint I'm sure a lot of this has to do with setting precedent for future trademark infringement cases.
  • Legitimate dilution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus DOT slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @11:40AM (#4787746) Homepage Journal
    This is exactly what the trademark laws are set up for. Not for Apple Records vs. Apple Computers, or Apple Computers vs. Granny's Apple Stand, or Microsoft Windows vs. Newpro Windows...

    In this case, the average - read

    • not
    a /. reader - would probably mistake Apple Computers and Apple Communications, and think they are related. Some middle-aged couple who knows nothing about computers and own an iMac would be more likely to go to Apple Communications for their internet connection because they think they're the same company.

    To the trademark lawyers, we're a really insignifigant portion of the population - most people really know next to nothing about computers.

    -T

  • Here's another example [tex9.com] of what they've been up to. In short, Tex9 [tex9.com] (a small company which makes open source software) launched xtunes, but got a letter from Apple telling them to change the name... (sounded like iTunes) now it's known as sumi [tex9.com] . (sounds familiar, right? :) )
  • trademarking (Score:3, Interesting)

    by prell (584580) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @12:45PM (#4788069) Homepage
    I think this, and the "Windows" debacle earler this week, are an example of what I consider a flaw in the current laws. I dont think a company should be able to use just some random noun as their company/product name. Noun combinations are another issue, but naming something "Apple" or "Windows" is ridiculous.

    "Apple Computer" should be considered the full name, and if some guy wants to make "Apple Teleco," thats a completely different company, and I defy you to find more than 1% of people who would make the mistake.. and even if they did make the mistake, what does that hurt? "Hi, I want to buy one of those new ibooks" 'oh, no thats Apple Computer. www.apple.com.'

    Again, along with things like corporations operating sweatshops in other countries, big companies have WAY too much power. I don't think the founders had the postmodern era in mind 230 years ago, when industry was still relatively local and nascent. I think two things need to happen: a) analysis and updating of current laws, b) multi-national corporations/companies need to be held up to OUR laws, not the laws of the target nation (which is essentially a colony to the corporation by current laws). Part (b) is also another way we can start to "grow up" and face globalization, and be less hypocritical when we say we're an advanced culture.

    My $0.02
  • Apple Auto Glass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Titusdot Groan (468949) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @01:12PM (#4788201) Journal
    Apple is well within their rights, both legally and morally to pursue this company -- c'mon they are both in the IT industry!

    Interesting to note that Apple leaves alone people like Apple Auto Glass [tcgi.com] here in Canada -- different industry!

    We should be more concerned with the ownership of generic words at the DNS level [templetons.com] which is the real trademark travesty these days.

  • "Hello? Is this Apple? I have trouble with your Internet service [216.239.51.100] and your Operating System [216.239.51.100] is flakey."
  • This just in. Apparently a Granny Smith is being sued by Apple Corp. Smith contends that she had has had the name rights to Apple for over 100 years, but in a California court today Smith was forced to change her name to Granny Smith Penquin Snacks and forfiet over $1,000,000 dollars of damages to Apple. Smith was quoted as saying, "This trial is a travisty. It's a travisty of a mockary of a sham of a mockary of a travisty of two mockaries of a sham". (bananas)
  • by litewoheat (179018) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @02:09PM (#4788468)
    The thing about trademarks are you MUST defend them or you will lose them. One instance where you could have reasonably known of the existance of trademark ingringement where you don't defend will strip you of your trademark. Its that simple.
  • by alizard (107678) <alizard@ecis.cCOBOLom minus language> on Sunday December 01, 2002 @04:08PM (#4788978) Homepage
    Goods and Services IC 042. US 100 101. G & S: computer consultation, design, testing, research and advisory services; research and development of computer hardware and From the USPTO trademark database [uspto.gov]. Sorry, couldn't give a direct URL for this page, you have to access it via trademark search under apple.

    Word Mark
    APPLE
    software; maintenance and repair of computer software applications; updating of computer software; computer programming services; computer services dealing with providing access to multimedia and interactive computer products; provision of computer databases and on-line information; services relating to downloading of information and data from the Internet; leasing of computers, computer peripherals and computer software. FIRST USE: 19800900. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19800900

    "services relating to downloading..." sounds a lot like telecom to me. However, it would require remarkable prescience to include the word Internet in a trademark app filed in 1980, so I checked the filing date. The filing date on that trademark application is 0ctober 2,2002.

    I wonder when the former Apple Telecommunications company was founded, and if Apple Computer actually had a trademark covering telecommunications before the October 2,2002 filing date. Or at any rate, before Apple Telecom was founded.

    The question here is if a large company can add items to its trademark coverage specifically so they can sue companies they suddenly discover have a similar name that are working in areas they might want to work in someday.

  • by Now15 (9715) on Sunday December 01, 2002 @04:24PM (#4789087) Homepage
    I run a discussion forum which focusses on broadband internet access in Australia.

    The previously named Apple Communications has some really competitive broadband plans, and they are discussed often. However, I have often seen people casually confusing the huge computer company and the micro-Telco.

    This was not a paranoia strike or an over-reaching hand by Apple Computer -- they were being confused. This wasn't apples and oranges, it was apples and apples. Sorry, but I have no sympathy for the previously named Apple Communications.

    Simon Wright
    http://whirlpool.net.au

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