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Apple, New York City In Legal Dispute Over Logo 254

Posted by Zonk
from the oh-our-wacky-trademark-system dept.
Lemmy Caution writes "Apple, Inc. has filed a suit to prevent New York City's non-profit 'GreeNYC' initiative from using a logo that incorporates an apple in its design. Commentators have noted the substantial differences between the two designs, not to mention the irony of this sort of infringement claim. The city of New York has filed to have the claim rejected, and even possibly the cancellation of Apple's logo in light of the long history of the nickname 'The Big Apple' to describe the city."
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Apple, New York City In Legal Dispute Over Logo

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  • by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:44PM (#22975606)
    I REALLY hope Apple wins and NYC's logo is thrown out.
    There's no one better suited to start rolling back absurd property rights than a city full of pissed off politicians.
    • by peragrin (659227) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:48PM (#22975624)
      actually I hope it goes the over way. Apple needs to be shown that not every apple is their's.

      The two logo's don't look anything like each other. NYC's is missing the giant bite for starters.

      • by k2enemy (555744) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:51PM (#22975658)
        I think you may have misunderstood the parent. Of course Apple's claim is ridiculous, but with the current state of intellectual property law, Apple has a possibility of winning. This by itself would be BAD, but it may prompt politicians to do something about reforming IP law.
        • by omega_dk (1090143) <alpha,dk&gmail,com> on Saturday April 05, 2008 @07:22PM (#22975804)
          Well, that might be true... if there were a lawsuit involved at all. [engadget.com]

          Hey /.! How about posting about 'filing suit' when it actually happens, and not when someone lacks basic reading comprehension? Not even in TFA does it mention a legal dispute; it says it filed a challenge to NYC's trademark application.

          I believe this article needs to be tagged 'adaylateandadollarshort'
          • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @11:02PM (#22977124) Homepage
            As the original submitter, I used the word "suit" when I should have used the word "claim." Otherwise, however, I think you incorrectly minimalize the effectively litigious and serious nature of a trademark opposition: [houstoninternetlaw.com]

            The owner of the pending application is given a copy of the claim, termed a âoenotice of oppositionâ. The applicant is given thirty days to file an answer, If no answer is filed, the application is dismissed. Therefore receipt of an opposition notice must be taken seriously.

            The opposition procedure is similar to civil litigation. There is first a discovery period. The time period for discovery is set by the TTAB. The deadlines may be extended on written request. The discovery comprises depositions, interrogatories, production of records, and request for admissions. These are the typical tools used in civil litigation.

              The TTAB has specific rules governing the conduct of an opposition, including the discovery phase. Similar to civil litigation, motions can be filed addressing alleged failure of one party or the other to comply with the TTAB rules of procedure.

              What is unlike civil litigation, is the use of testimonial depositions, which are separate from discovery depositions. The TTAB does not conduct open or oral hearings. All matters are resolved by written record.

            It is somewhat misleading to think this is just a casual "business as usual" action on the part of Apple. It is as serious as a regular lawsuit, will involve similar legal mobilizations, and ultimately will determine whether or not GreeNYC can trademark (and use) their logo.
            • by ktappe (747125)
              Not true. There are no damages or awards to either side regardless of the outcome. Further, it is rather insulting of you to decry Apple for making use of a normal procedure set forth by law and which is in place for a very good reason. Will you next claim it is a "big deal" when someone contests a traffic ticket in court? After all, it's a "court proceeding" which involves a judge and an official record. How dare they exercise their rights? What we have here is a non-story that only gained notoriety beca
              • Not being able to use a logo you developed is "damage." And there are substantial legal costs involved in contesting a challenge. Of course, they have a "right" to do it. They have a "right" to send C&D letters to bloggers and to file a lawsuit against anyone they want. The question is whether it is ethical, reasonable, or even necessary.

                It has nothing to do with "Apple-haters." I use a MacBook and run MacOS X. Your enthusiastic defense of a massive corporation against criticism does earn you the title
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              What a lot of people don't realize is how aggressively lawyers are expected to defend a trademark. Apple's lawyers must show "due diligence" in cases like this, or else they are considered not to be doing their job. Their fear must be that Apple Records or some other preexisting "Apple" company may decide to sublicense their trademark to the makers of knockoff computer products and draw off some marketshare from Apple. Obviously, I think Apple would follow through with their suit and try to defend again

        • but it may prompt politicians to do something about reforming IP law.

          Maybe that would happen if Apple had sued a federal agency or something. There's not too much NYC can do about national IP law (directly, at least).

          I really like the idea of a counter suit on the basis that Apple stole the apple from NYC first.

        • I think that Apple would fight harder than NYC for the rights to the logo, unless Bloomberg decides to make it his current crusade. (which he won't until he get congestion pricing passed) NYC would just use the Statue of Liberty or something as an alternate logo, but Apple computers would have no other option than to fight tooth and nail for the apple logo. I too would like to see this get huge and ugly as a mean of forcing a hard look at IP law I just think that Apple would fight harder for it.
      • by mattgoldey (753976) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @07:04PM (#22975712) Homepage
        Damn, dude. An apostrophe doesn't mean "Look out, here comes an S!"

      • by digitig (1056110)

        Apple needs to be shown that not every apple is their's.
        Maybe there's really just one apple in this case -- and it has "Kallisti" written on it.
      • by tomhudson (43916)

        The two logo's don't look anything like each other. NYC's is missing the giant bite for starters.

        They should redo the logo and take a chunk out of it, and say its in memory of the World Trade Center and its' victims.

        I think Apple laid a lemon on this one.

        • It's been said that the bite is a tribute to Alan Turing (who died from eating a poisioned apple), so I assume that Apple would claim the "in memory off" thing too. /ip_hyperbole

          Considering the trademark fights Apple computer has had with Apple records you would think Apple computer would just STFU about it's logo. OTOH: Any publicity is good...blah, blah, therefore I suspect it's a marketing ploy or a conspirasy (same thing really)...

          1. Hear about NYC cheating by copying Apple's logo - raisng recogni
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tomhudson (43916)

            It's been said that the bite is a tribute to Alan Turing (who died from eating a poisioned apple),

            So *that's* where the whole "Apple is teh gay" thing got started ...

            The treatment of Turing is a shame - he arguably saved more lives than anyone else in WW2.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by TapeCutter (624760)
              "The treatment of Turing is a shame - he arguably saved more lives than anyone else in WW2."

              I agree, the Betchley park guys kept the Atlantic open, and their US franchise shortend the Pacific war using the same techniques. The Manhattan project 'got all the attention' because it signaled the end of WW2 and the start of the cold war. Turing's woefull treament by the authorities means he will eventually take his place as the 20th century's version of Gallelieo.
          • by DECS (891519)
            I think the bite in the Apple logo has been pointed out to be a play on a computer byte. I can't imagine Apple would do a tribute to Turing's death by linking the company's logo to the cause of death. That would be creepy.

            That said, linking the idea of Apple products to thousands of banners around NYC advertising green efforts to recycle would be a marketing coup.
            • Yeah, there are a few of them, the biblical "fruit of the knowledge tree" is another. Combined with their frequent product placements on TV and movies linking the logo with well-balanced, creative people, (who just happen to have no money worries), and it all smells like viral marketing to me.

              Interestingly the WP entry [wikipedia.org] on apple has three different logo's. The first dipicts Newton under a tree, the second is the 'rainbow' one from the 80's (again with the gay connection), last is the current monochrome ve
              • by DECS (891519)
                Apple's rainbow logo was thought up in 1976, when colors suggested technical capabilities (like the NBC peacock).

                The gay rainbow flag first started in 1978, using colors that weren't in the real rainbow (ie, the rainbow from God). It wasn't a well known gay icon until much later, probably the mid 90s outside the gay community. Hawaii had no idea the rainbow had any gay connotation when it made its license plates, and many people even recently have associated it with "diversity" in general rather than man on
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sjames (1099)

        actually I hope it goes the over way. Apple needs to be shown that not every apple is their's.

        Good luck with that. Apple records tried to teach them that TWICE. First, Apple chose it's name and the mark even though Apple records was hardly unknown at the time. Then after wrangling in court, the two apples agreed they would stay out of each other's markets and businesses and all would be good.

        Then Apple computers started distributing music... Apple records once again tried to show them that there are l

        • This is an extremely good point!

          Apple takes number one music retailer position, and turns around and sues a "feel-good", not-for-profit organization for the use of the image of an Apple.

          Apple Computer gave Apple Records the finger of this thing for years. What gives? This is an uncharacteristic (read "Microsoft-style") go-for-the-throat business maneuver.
    • the other extreme outcome (Apple's trademark rights eroded) might also cause some positive reactions and make potential future actors more cautious.

      So I think it's likely we'll see an alloyed settlement. That's what's likely to benefit the lawyers, anway (and both parties, I suppose).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by tubapro12 (896596)
      I call no ability for IP on the apple design, prior art by ID designer.</sarcasm>
    • There's no one better suited to start rolling back absurd property rights than a city full of pissed off politicians.

      New York city politicians cannot do anything about federal trademark laws. In light of that, who do you think should win?

      I hope Apple NYC ups the ante, files their own complaint & get's Apple's trademark rescinded. Might* teach them to not be so trigger happy with the legal threats.

      * Let's face it - probably not.
      • by DECS (891519)
        WMF: I'll type this slowly for you:

        The concept is that politically powerful people who live in NYC could be induced to start taking action on the issue of IP because of this tempest in a teapot.

        NYC's own politicians are probably too busy with shit to care about another minor issue from some legal challenge.

        You try so hard to malign Apple that it hurts. Good thing you're not very effective. Why not just jerk off furiously in your basement instead? Nobody gives a shit either way.

        Five Factors Shifting the Futu [roughlydrafted.com]
        • First. Please read this [plainengli...dation.com].

          The concept is that politically powerful people who live in NYC could be induced to start taking action on the issue of IP because of this tempest in a teapot.

          NYC's own politicians are probably too busy with shit to care about another minor issue from some legal challenge.


          What is it? New York isn't interested in the issue, or they're interested in it enough to start taking action on IP reform.

          Try & think things through before posting.
  • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:48PM (#22975626)
    Hasbro sues Idaho over infrignement on Mr. Potato Head brand
  • apple (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:50PM (#22975644)
    god should sue them, after all they copied his design.
  • The Apple logo encourages people to drop hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on electronic gadgets they may or may not need (more energy consumption). GreeNYC apple will be used to encourage people to walk, bike and unplug appliances when not in use (less energy consumption).
    Green is bad for business.
  • by retech (1228598) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:55PM (#22975672)
    Next up: Apple sues every gay pride organization and person wearing a rainbow for their old (shitty) logo infringement.

    After that: Apple will sue the Universe for Mercury, Silver, Nickel, Tin, Aluminum and Lead all using the colour silver, an obvious infringement upon their new logo.

    I suppose Jobs will start suing anyone who wears a turtleneck while giving Keynote presentations.

    Please someone (namely the judges), stop the madness.
  • NYC and Company(tm), Inc. [nycvisit.com], the marketing arm of NYC(tm) has been very aggressive in trademarking. Just ask the locals. (tm).

    Apple isn't going to win this one.

  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew&gmail,com> on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:57PM (#22975682) Homepage Journal
    A twelve-year old boy posted on his blog that he really wants an iPod for his birthday, but is considering holding out for Christmas, hoping that the next iteration of the iPod will be out by then. Apple assumes someone broke an NDA on the release date of the next iPod, and they are suing the poor boy, and everyone he has friended on MySpace. Tom was not available for comment.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It all sounds like a case of:

      Apple: Hey you fuckpig lawyers, why do we pay you so much

      Fuckpigs: Because we sue people and make you money

      Apple: So fuck off and sue someone then

      Fuckpigs: Who?

      Apple: Do we look like we really give a shit?

      Fuckpigs: Ok, how about a city that's been calling itself an apple since before computers were invented or a 12 year old?

      Apple: Somebody will think of the children, sue the city.
  • C'mon, Apple! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by christurkel (520220) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:57PM (#22975686) Homepage Journal
    I am die hard Mac fan and the two are even close to the same. Actually, NYC's looks like a heart to me.
  • Argumentation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DSVaughan (1007255)
    Sounds to me like people with way too much money are arguing with other people with way too much money. If there is a definitive difference in logos, then there is no problem (legally).
  • ...and I hope they get the daylights scared out of them by the judge in the case. This lawsuit is ridiculous on its face. I'd be shocked to see this thrown back at them and have their own trademark actually canceled, but if it did happen it would be well deserved.

    I'm really surprised at a lot of Apple's moves lately. Pushing new Safari installs as an "update", and this idiotic lawsuit make it sound like there was some turnover in Apple's legal department. They've certainly always been bareknuckled, and
  • I always thought that you'd need to show that your trademarked image was reasonably similar which this is nothing of the sort. *or* that one could reasonably associate one brand with another effectively allowing the infringing brand to piggy back on the infringed trademark's notoriety. this isn't the case here either, no one's stupid enough to confuse greeNYC with Macs or any of Apple's products.
  • What shape do you want an Apple to have? a fucking Banana?

    I bet if you replace Apple by Microsoft and the Apple logo by that wavy Windows logo, you'd have Slashdot throwing flaming paper towels at Microsoft for suing.
    • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)
      Well, if Green(RandomCityHere) had a logo that was the MS Windows logo, traced, pallete swapped, and a window filled in, wouldn't we be support MS here, at least a little bit? People here on Slashdot are biased in one direction, yes, but we're not stupid. We can see when things are right and when they're not. Look at the posts above yours - you can find a picture of the two logos superimposed. One is clearly based on the other.
      • no, it clearly isn't. Apple's logo is fatter, it curves slightly more outwards, and has less of a dimple in the top and bottom. You can't call dibs on any representation of a fruit, and if you can, New York called dibs on apples first.

        Plus as GreeNYC are not in the computer business, Apples trademark claim means dick. Precedent for this comes from apple themselves with their battle with Apple Records. Apple need to GTFO, if they get away with this after stealing Apple Record's trademark, it proves th
      • Look at the posts above yours - you can find a picture of the two logos superimpose

        If you play enough with the scale, you can superimpose any arc on any other. The two don't even look remotely similar.

        What this comes down to is, is Apple going after trademark or copyright? If copyright, they'll have to prove the thing was actually copied. If trademark, they'll have to prove consumer confusion. That will be very difficult because 1) NYC is not a computer manufacturer, and 2) those things do NOT look a

        • by Koiu Lpoi (632570)

          If you play enough with the scale, you can superimpose any arc on any other.
          Unless you keep the aspect ratio. You clearly have no idea what you're talking about, and have no place arguing if something looks similar or not in a graphic design situation.
  • quickly, to the imobile to defend apple against anyone who points out the companys glaring flaws or money grubbing attitude!
  • I think I read somewhere in the fine print that Apple is also claiming that the i 3 NY logo is too similar to their "i" logos (iTunes, iPods, iMacs, etc), or are they saving this for the next bunch of law suits?

    Seriously, talk about one bad Apple soiling the bunch.
  • TFA is mistaken about whether the use of Apple's old logo on busses and vans is a "clear case of trademark infringement." The essence of trademark infringement is the likelihood of consumer confusion. It's possible to make the case that tourists in Vietnam would likely think Apple Computer (as it was called then) was running van and bus lines in Vietnam, but it's hardly "clear."

    It is clearly copyright infringement. It also might be trademark dilution, but that's a far harder case to make than trademark in

  • that the article was referring to Apple Records.
  • A rare case where no other term will quite do.

    In a perfect world, not only would Apple lose, but they would also lose their right to do business in New York, their stores would be confiscated and turned over to the homeless.
  • Or sell downloaded music, or music players or anything else Apple markets under its logo.

    This suit is frivolous. Trademarks aren't vague references just to a corporation in a vacuum. They are the mark under which a mark holder markets its product, which is in a specific business sector, under which the holder registers the mark. The test of whether someone else is infringing the held mark is whether the other use would cause confusion to a consumer looking for the first mark holder's product, who would be c
  • Is this even a surprise? Haven't we at Slashdot endured enough of these stories to know that lawyers have to be a little more trigger happy when it comes to trademark issues? I know it's still quite stupid, but I doubt this will go anywhere. And until it does, why even bother with it?
  • but when I see the greenNYC logo I immediately think of Apple. I don't understand any of the legalities of this situation but Apple is a company that has always been very strong on branding and greenNYC will be a substantially public logo that from Apple's point of view could jeopardize their image.
  • This is what happens when you let the lawyers make the decisions.  Never, ever let the lawyers make the decisions--they rarely have a strong grasp on reality.  Take their advice, sure, but then use some judgement.  There was no need for Apple to be a baddie actor, here.
  • infringing on His trademark. All proceeds go to the Adam + Eve divorce fund.
  • Is Apple Computer in the City business?

    They're clearly not in the music producing business, which is why Apple Computer and Apple Music have coexisted once Apple Computer quit trying to assert that they were the only Apple in the world. Hasn't The Big Apple been around longer than Apple Computer? So unless Apple is suddenly in the City Business (along with the computer, iPod, and iPhone businesses) as a competitor, it should simply go away and shut up!

  • Think DUMB (Score:2, Insightful)

    Firstly, who the hell is going to mistake the GreeNYC logo to represent Apple, or vice versa? Apple has no more claim to the use of apples in commercial logos than Apple Records does, who pre-existed Apple Inc by over a decade (the label for The Beatles).

    Ironically, Apple Records has filed numerous trademark/copyright infringment suits against Apple Inc, and as a result Apple Inc stayed out of the music industry entirely, even long after Macintosh became the prevalent computer platform used in recording

  • by Ignis Fatuusz (1084045) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @01:20AM (#22977762)
    Please cite a reliable source that says Apple has 'filed suit' against anyone regarding this matter. You can't? I didn't think so. Apple has filed a formal opposition to a trademark application, which it must do in order to actively defend its trademark. Whether it's successful or not is irrelevant. Engadget explains the issue in detail here: http://www.engadget.com/2008/04/03/apple-vs-nyc-whats-really-going-on/ [engadget.com] I'm not sure what disappoints me more - the sensationalist tone of the submitted piece, or the overwhelming knee-jerk reaction of folks jumping on Apple for something they didn't actually do.
  • Like Apple should trademark apples with a bite out of them (especially on the right hand side). Rather than every possible form of a fruit that has existed long before Steve Jobs.

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