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Apple Takes Action Over Australian Logos 425

Posted by kdawson
from the that's-no-w dept.
sams67 writes "Australian supermarket Woolworth is on the receiving end of an action from Apple over Woolworth's new logo. The green, highly stylized 'W' logo could at best be described as 'apple-like.' As outlined in the article, Apple is taking similar action in Australia against music festival promoter, Poison Apple, and pay TV provider Foxtel, over their fruit-related logos."
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Apple Takes Action Over Australian Logos

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  • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish@info.gmail@com> on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:08AM (#29641193)

    From the company that complained bitterly when sued by Apple Records.

    Wow, that's the very first thing I thought when I saw this story.

    Here's the skinny [wikipedia.org] for those not up on their Mediaeval History.

  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:19AM (#29641245)

    It's not hypocracy.

    Why?

    Under international trademark law, if Apple /doesn't/ defend their trademark (the Apple logo), then they /lose/ it. /That/ is where the blame and fault lies.

  • Re:L.C.D (Score:5, Informative)

    by clowds (954575) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:20AM (#29641249)
    From what I understand (from a local news report) it appears to be over the fact that Woolworths is doing a blanket trademark of every type of trademark item with the new logo.

    Now considering that some of the classes of trademarks in Aus are computers and electronics and mobile phones/communication devices; if Woolworths stuck that logo all over the front of a shiny new home brand/Woolworths MP3 player (which they're getting into), there's bound to be some idiot who buys the thing and expects it to work with his iTunes.

    The fact that Wooloworths already sells rebranded sim cards and mobile phones this isn't that far a fetch. Granted, I don't see the problem, they're easily distinguishable, but even the smallest similarity and a few dumb customers and Apple has bad press.
  • Trademark Guidelines (Score:5, Informative)

    by cjfs (1253208) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:34AM (#29641327) Homepage Journal

    You may not use an image of a real apple or other variation of the Apple logo for any purpose. Third parties cannot use a variation, phonetic equivalent, foreign language equivalent, takeoff, or abbreviation of an Apple trademark for any purpose. For example: Not acceptable: Appletree Jackintosh Apple Cart PodMart

    Source. [apple.com]

    Now I don't know whether to go with a produce joke, or a Jackintosh one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:39AM (#29641353)

    Actually, it's hypocrisy.

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:53AM (#29641435) Homepage Journal

    Or, more precisely, their lawyers are.

    If someone gives me the addresses of these lawyers I'll be more than happy to make a bunch of stickers of this logo and plaster it over every square inch of property they own! With the amount of crack theymust be smoking, they probably won't notice it and think it's all part of their landscape.

  • Re:Really?? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:58AM (#29641457)

    *and* they got out of it by saying they weren't in the music business, no one would confuse the two.

    What is it they sell in itunes again (mostly lossy forms of lofi digital DRM'd music, iirc) Seems a bit closer than a completely different logo from a company that *may* slap it on something that *might* be technological in nature.

    Apple gets worse every day. They are rapidly out-assholing MS. Is this kind of thing inevitable? If so, Google will be a mess.

  • by Aluvus (691449) on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:03AM (#29641479) Homepage
    Because the surviving Beatles, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison's family have collectively opposed making the Beatles' catalog available on any such service. They were slow to jump to CDs as well. It has nothing particularly to do with Apple (the computer company).
  • by MrMista_B (891430) on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:40AM (#29641677)

    Under international trademark law, if Apple doesn't defend their trademark against any and all percieved infringements (that is, this story), they /lose their trademark/.

    The silliness doesn't originate with Apple, but with international trademark law.

  • WHA? (Score:5, Informative)

    by LKM (227954) on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:55AM (#29641747) Homepage

    Some facts might be helpful:

    1. The Beatles are still not on iTunes
    2. It's not Apple who's preventing it
  • Re:IMHO (Score:5, Informative)

    by mjwx (966435) on Monday October 05, 2009 @04:09AM (#29641829)

    I'd love to see New York City sue Apple over the rights to using an Apple as a logo. And then force Apple to come up with a new logo.

    Actually, the reverse happened. [engadget.com] Apple ended up losing that one.

    Apple's lawyers have become the trolls of the tech world.

  • by Delkster (820935) on Monday October 05, 2009 @04:14AM (#29641859)

    I might have believed that until I checked out the logo of Adults Only, the channel over which Apple is suing Foxtel.

    The Woolsworth logo contains no apple but it just might be considered similar in appearance to the Apple logo, mostly thanks to the stem-like shape above the "W". The AO logo, on the other hand, contains an apple, but certainly could never be mistaken for the Apple logo. It's got a small apple figure which makes up 1/6 of the logo at best, and instead of a consumer electronics label the intended connotation might be the forbidden fruit or something. Here's a direct link to just the logo on the channel's website [aotv.com.au], in case you want to take a look without going to the rest of the site.

    I repeat: the only common feature is the shape of an apple. Does Apple really claim that all logos containing the fruit might infringe on their trademark even without any other similarities? That's either paranoia or extreme arrogance.

  • by asifyoucare (302582) on Monday October 05, 2009 @04:59AM (#29642057)

    In Australia when plaintiff makes a false claim against another person they are legally permitted to sue the plaintiff under our woeful deformation laws. Given the obvious difference between the two logo's there is no way for Apple to win this so at the very least Apple will have to pay for Woolworths legal costs as well as their own (Apple loses).

    That is not correct.

        1. (Non-excluded) corporations cannot sue for defamation in Australia.
        2.Allegations raised in court would be privileged (in a defamation sense)
        3.Allegations of infringement could be easily defended as honest opinion. It is easy to sue for defamation, but to win you need a case. To even get close, Apple would have had to impugned somebody - e.g. Apple might have said "Mr X, an executive at Woolworths, decided to use our logo because he is a dishonest cheating bastard" - that might be defamatory.

  • by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:03AM (#29642071) Homepage Journal

    It's the "drawing a border" style of winning. What Apple wants is to have the borders drawn now rather than later, and remove uncertainty.

    At least, that's my take on it, giving both sides the benefit of doubt.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:25AM (#29642411) Homepage Journal

    No one is going to go to an Apple store to by fresh produce, and no one is going to shop at Woolworths to look for a Macbook Pro. And even if they tried, they'd fail.

    Woolworth's wants to keep open the possibility of putting the logo on all types of devices. One thing they very likely will sell branded with their logo is mp3 players. Many mp3 players copy the look of an Apple player, so it is highly likely that Woolworth's will sell mp3 players which look like iPods, branded with the W logo. I could sell mp3 players branded with my logo, I could have them here within two weeks. Anyone want to buy several?

    With that said, the logos should be considered substantially different, because they are. Also, Apple computer cannot be permitted to end up with a monopoly on fruit-related logos. That's just insane.

  • by Exception Duck (1524809) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:48AM (#29642525) Homepage Journal

    Funny bit from Apple Crop vs. Apple Inc.

    In 1991, another settlement involving payment of around US$26.5 million to Apple Corps was reached.[4] This time, an Apple employee named Jim Reekes had included a sampled system sound called Chimes to the Macintosh operating system, but Apple's legal department objected citing the agreement with Apple Corps. Reekes renamed the sound to sosumi, which he asserted was Japanese and meant nothing musical, but in fact can be read phonetically as âoeso sue meâ.

  • by JeffSpudrinski (1310127) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:00AM (#29642581)

    From the article, I gather that it's not so much that the logo looks so much like Apple's logo right now, but that Woolworth's may well be planning a line of computers with their new stylized logo on it.

    While folks here at /. would know the difference, you must admit that there would be a plethora of users who would think they had an "apple" computer.

    This is a pre-emptive move by Apple to protect their computer brand. I'm no Apple fanboi by any stretch of the imagination, mind you, but I can see why they are being so paranoid.

    -JJS

  • by uglyduckling (103926) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:11AM (#29642633) Homepage
    A think that's a fair assessment. The logo does look like an apple, it has a leaf at the top, and does also look like a stylised 'w'. At the moment that's not an issue, but in 3 years time when Woolworths produces the next iteration of that logo and decides to go for a slightly glossy/plastic-y look, and Apple have developed the next iteration of their logo which makes the apple slightly more rounded, then Apple will be in a much better position to defend their trademark if they have already been to court over it. This sort of thing goes on all the time between companies and it's only because people are so obsessed with Apple that this is even in the news.
  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:50AM (#29642777)
    This is the same company that insisted it was illegal to run OS X on any computer that did not have an Apple logo on it. Why would you be surprised that they would try to claim that anything resembling an apple, even the logo for a grocery store chain (which undoubtedly sells apples) is an infringement on their trademark?
  • by Tink2000 (524407) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:07AM (#29642853) Homepage Journal

    Don't see how this is insightful because:
    1. The Beatles still aren't on iTunes
    2. The Beatles aren't on any legal download service (that is to say, they haven't excluded Apple).

  • by agbinfo (186523) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:39AM (#29643541) Journal
    From the article, the TM sought is generic. This would presumably let Woolworth use it on pretty much anything including electronics and computers. Apple seems to be covering that eventuality.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Monday October 05, 2009 @10:24AM (#29643969) Journal

    Trademarks belong to categories (at least in U.S. - I think it's the same in most countries?). So, that is why you can have an "Apple" in the sound recording category, and an "Apple" in the computer and consumer electronics category.

    So, Woolworth should be, I think, fine using that logo for retailing groceries. Even for selling computers, I think there's enough difference that it's *probably* protected. But at least for selling food, I should think this would be an open and shut case in favor of Wooworth, since it's a completely different category of goods & services?

  • by Achromatic1978 (916097) <{robert} {at} {chromablue.net}> on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:01AM (#29644459)

    What about everyone else who has an apple in their logo? Is Apple Co. going to go after them too?

    If you RTFS, they're also suing an Australian music festival, and a Cable TV provider (which should be fun, Foxtel's parent company is NewsCorp, so not entirely short of cash for their own legal defense).

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