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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 AuMatar (183847) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:43AM (#29641089)

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

  • L.C.D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:44AM (#29641091)

    Having seen the logos (I read the article. sorry) my first thought was, "How stupid do they really think people are?"

    I myself could easily identify the difference after my 3rd day awake in Vegas with a .28 and a swollen left eye received from an offended stripper.

    Upon further reflection though the lowest common denominator really is the lowest common denominator. If there are people out there stupid enough to believe a prince in Nigeria is going to give them a million dollars, send txt messages to American Idol at .99c each, pay the infinite profit margin for txt messaging period, and participate in the various money sinks present in the banalities on the Internet... then perhaps Apple does have a valid concern.

    As much as I hate to agree with greedy megacorps, Apple's premise is that the majority of people are stupid enough to confuse the logos, and unfortunately I can't seem to argue that they are wrong.. with their premise.

  • by ZackSchil (560462) on Monday October 05, 2009 @01:48AM (#29641107)

    I don't think Apple has it out for Woolworth's and I don't think Woolworth's meant to make a logo that's similar to Apple's. I see the similar shape but no one would ever mistake the two. This is really just reflexive litigation where the party that potentially faces dilution issues just wants to get the issue in front of a judge for some ass covering. Whether they win or lose, Apple can point to this and say they tried to defend their trademark. And if they lose and in the future, the logo condenses and the bent dash starts to straighten out and it really does look like the Apple logo, they can point to this case again and use it as leverage to say "yeah, we saw this coming, we're not only suing now that it's established".

    tl;dr: It's just some cover your ass litigation and nothing more.

  • by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:03AM (#29641167) Homepage
    Not just complained bitterly. Acted like a petulant child. Why do you think it took so long for the Beatles to be on iTunes?
  • Re:L.C.D (Score:5, Insightful)

    by purpledinoz (573045) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:11AM (#29641197)
    That means Apple owns all logos that are apple shaped? Also, I think it's totally wrong to cater to the "lowest common denominator". At some point, people have to take responsibility for their own actions. This thinking is a huge problem in America. Whenever something happens, the first question is "Who do I sue?"
  • by zekt (252634) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:23AM (#29641275)

    Okay then... it's a lime. Now go take a running jump.

  • by Kierthos (225954) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:25AM (#29641281) Homepage

    Look at the logos, though. It would be one thing if the Woolworth's logo was silver, or looked like an apple with a bite out of it. It's neither. It's bright fucking green. It also looks like a stylized lower case 'w', as well as maybe looking like an apple. But honestly, are any Apple-fanboys going to confuse the two? No. Is anyone going to mistakenly assume that the store labeled "Woolworth's" is really an Apple store in disguise? No. Is anyone going to go to the Woolworth's web-page and wonder "Where the fuck are the iTunes downloads?". No. No. A thousand times no.

    There's "defend the trademark" and then there's "rampant corporate paranoia".

  • Really?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by laughingcoyote (762272) <.moc.eticxe. .ta. .lwohtsehgrab.> on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:29AM (#29641303) Journal

    Having looked at the two logos, they're easily distinguishable. Apple's logo is solid, the "W" is made of two overlapping loops. Apple's logo has the "bite", the W has no similar feature. Apple's logo is silver, the "W" is green. And on from there...

    The article goes on to say that Apple is also trying to prevent someone else from using a logo of an apple with a devil, and all manner of things. That seems a misuse of trademark law. Trademark law is intended to prevent confusing similarities—something like making an MP3 player with a logo of an apple with the bite out of the opposite side, and calling it the "Appel miPod". It's not intended to prevent use of a common fruit in any type of logo anywhere, or to prohibit something with a vague, passing similarity in geometric shape but an obvious difference in any other way.

    In fact, I seem to remember Apple making similar arguments themselves, when sued by a certain Apple Records...

  • by Macman408 (1308925) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:36AM (#29641339)

    Yes, but they're doing this for legal safety; either Woolworth's trademark claim gets denied (Apple wins), Woolworth settles (Apple wins), or the government determines that the logos are sufficiently distinct and grants Woolworth's application (Apple still wins). Otherwise, say somebody makes a logo that the government decides does infringe on Apple's trademark; if the offenders can make the case that Woolworth's did it first and Apple didn't protect their trademark, then Apple loses it. But having a definite decision that Woolworth's did not infringe on Apple's logo gives Apple ammunition in future lawsuits.

  • by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:42AM (#29641367) Homepage

    And yet the Woolworths apple logo looks absolutely nothing like the Apple Computer logo. Nice.

  • Re:L.C.D (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:49AM (#29641405)

    That means Apple owns all logos that are apple shaped?

    I think that is illogical and I disagree. What I am unsure of is how trademark law treats it.

    Also, I think it's totally wrong to cater to the "lowest common denominator"

    Not exactly wrong in this case. On the face of it I would agree with you of course. However, to my understanding trademark law is about whether it would be reasonable to assume someone could mistake the logos. Keeping that in mind, the lowest common denominator really does come into play. You and I may not mistake it, but be honest.... don't we both know some people that would mistake it? People that would come up to us and say, "but it's an Apple!"? I am not arguing that it should be this way, just that on average people really might the that freakin stupid.

    At some point, people have to take responsibility for their own actions. This thinking is a huge problem in America. Whenever something happens, the first question is "Who do I sue?"

    I absolutely agree with you. Whether or not that thinking will affect the court's decision is something we just have to wait and see.

  • by lewko (195646) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:51AM (#29641425) Homepage

    It's not hypocracy.

    Okay. Well how about hypocrisy?

  • Re:L.C.D (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Monday October 05, 2009 @02:59AM (#29641461)

    > don't we both know some people that would mistake it?

    We both know people who think black people are inferior, but that doesn't mean you can neglect to hire black people in your company because you're worried some people would notice that and not use your services. It's understood that some people are ignorant and you don't have to alter your plans to accomodate them.

  • by sitarlo (792966) on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:06AM (#29641495)
    I don't think the logos aren't similar enough to prove an infringement of trademark, especially international. This is going to be a big waste of money and time for Apple. Why attack Aussie businesses with fruity logos anyway? Don't they have anything better to do? Like, maybe fix the iMac "Big Yellow Line" display problems.
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:11AM (#29641517) Journal

    If they have to sue Woolworths then they also have to sue Taco Bell. Because that's how close the the trademarks are.

    I certainly understand in the case of Poisoned Apple and Foxtel. But Woolworths? Seriously?

    I don't see how any lawyer could in good faith say "there could be an issue with the woolworths logo, we should sue just to be on the safe side."

  • Re:L.C.D (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bemymonkey (1244086) on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:32AM (#29641627)

    I don't get the transition from steak (beef) to human... IIRC people taste like pork, don't they? :P

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:49AM (#29641713)

    So what if they're corporate bullys? That has absolutely no bearing on this case. Apple is batshit insane on this one, and the fact that Woolworths are not nice people has zero to do with it and shouldn't make us jump 'ZOMG they're guilty, appel is teh g0dz and can do no evil!!!1!1!!1one!1".

  • by mjwx (966435) on Monday October 05, 2009 @03:53AM (#29641735)

    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.

    The only thing is that Woolworths is not using the Apple logo in any way shape or form. There is nothing here for Apple to defend and this will be thrown out of court in short order.

    Only fanboys could come up with such a far fetched explanation and consider it plausible. But Apple is doing what Apple has always done, sued anyone who has anything that could possibly even remotely, some day look like an Apple logo.

  • by mjwx (966435) on Monday October 05, 2009 @04:03AM (#29641793)

    Yes, but they're doing this for legal safety; either Woolworth's trademark claim gets denied (Apple wins), Woolworth settles (Apple wins), or the government determines that the logos are sufficiently distinct and grants Woolworth's application (Apple still wins).

    BZZZZZZT, but thanks for playing.

    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).

    This is not a trademark defence, this is an egotistical and paranoid corporation attempting to enforce its will on other corporations by using the wrong law as a bludgeon. Apple will lose this one like they lost their suite against NYC in a remarkably similar case. [engadget.com]

  • by mjwx (966435) on Monday October 05, 2009 @04:14AM (#29641853)

    As an Australian, I can say that Woolworths has been (allegedly, cough) involved in anti-competitive practices for years in the grocery, and now petrol markets. As one of the two (and effectively only) major supermarket chains in this country their activities and pricing has stifled competition and cost consumers' back pockets plenty. This is not your typical David vs Goliath situation.

    For all the evil that you can blame on Woolworths they are nowhere near as bad as Apple. For all the damage Woolworths has potentially done to a persons back pocket Apple's done far worse, Up until recently Apple kept a "gentlemen's agreement" with most major electronics chains that only Apple MP3 players could be stocked and promoted in exchange for not opening an Apple store.

    It's not really David and Goliath, it's more like Satan has crawled out of hell to pick on Goliath.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:07AM (#29642087)

    So before everybody rushes to their defence, and makes Apple out to be a big corporate bully, it would be worth looking at the behaviour on both sides.

    So Apple should be allowed to prevent other companies from using an apple in their logos if the other companies are anti-competitive. What the hell?

  • by Rocketship Underpant (804162) on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:48AM (#29642241)

    You're right, of course. Not only are the logos not similar, it's irrelevant. Trademark law permits companies to have similar logos and names so long as they don't compete in the markets and there is no likelihood of reasonable consumers getting confused about which company they're doing business with. 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.

    Trademarks are not copyrights. They're a consumer protection device, not a government-granted monopoly on an idea, word, or symbol.

  • by twostix (1277166) on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:54AM (#29642259)

    Woolworths sells actual *apples* and holds about 55% of the grocery chain market in Australia.

    Everybody, that is every.single.person in Australia knows who Woolworths are and what they sell.

    On the other hand, from the point of view of the average man on the street who the fuck is this "Apple" company in comparison and what the hell do they sell? Computers?? With an apple for a logo? And they want to try and stop a massive Australian grocery chain from using an apple as their logo in Australia?

    Given that globally Apple in total takes in half the revenue of Woolworths just in *Australia* per annum, Woolworths employs over 175,000 Australians while Apple employs 35,000 *WORLD WIDE*, Apple the pip squeak should perhaps shut it's mouth and not prod those with old money, old connections and household name recognition while visitors on their home ground.

    Unless they wish to get iSpanked.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:58AM (#29642285)
    I can see a similarity between the two. The question is if, when presented with the two, would I be confused into thinking that a Woolworth's branded product is an Apple product, and is it the intention of Woolworth's for this to be the case. The answer is no.

    I look at the Woolworth's logo and see an apple. I do not see an Apple apple.
  • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:02AM (#29642301) Journal

    Well, your post is little more than a thinly veiled ad hominem attack on Woolworths with zero analysis of the logos or situation at hand. Whatever unrelated Woolworths behaviour you care to mention doesn't make Apples actions any less idiotic, and Apple not only have a history of such idiocy but are quite the hypocrites from when they defended their logo from Apple Records.

    Woolworths aside, are Foxtel and Poison Apple also fair game thanks to unrelated activities?

  • by twostix (1277166) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:12AM (#29642351)

    Yes,

    I was trying to buy an expensive boutique computer the other day and I ended up coming home with nothing as there was this store that tricked me into going in with their shop as they have a logo that looks *just like Apples*. It turned out to be a bloody grocery store!! The nerve, a grocey chain using an Apple as their logo! Then I looked around and noticed that they're everywhere here in Australia and I mean *everywhere*.

    I swear who does this grocery store with over 700 stores in Australia think they are using the same type of fruit as an obscure American computer companies logo. I mean Apple has a whopping three stores in this country!

    There should be a law...

  • Re:Apple is ass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by enrevanche (953125) * on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:40AM (#29642479)
    Since the Mac was introduced Apple has been a control freak company (except maybe the period when Jobs was booted out for a while). They require massive marketing to promote their image which is mostly what they provide (i.e. an image). Since we are in a society awash in propaganda, it is unlikely that their near term financial success will change unless a substantial change in society occurs. What you see and value is not what most of those who buy their products see and value. Some of these consumers may have some values in common with you, but they will not see their own duplicity because Apple promotes an image of the contrary. (There are many corporations that do this, for example Nike)
  • by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:49AM (#29642771)

    Up until recently Apple kept a "gentlemen's agreement" with most major electronics chains that only Apple MP3 players could be stocked and promoted in exchange for not opening an Apple store.

    Source? No, really - can you cite a single source for that claim because the only store I've ever been in to that _only_ stocked iPods was an Apple store. Every other store that stocked iPods _also_ stocked other companies' mp3 players. And not just recently - ever since iPods were first introduced it's been this way. iPods may have been given prominent shelf space but that happens to every market leader so that's not unexpected.

    So, again, provide a source for you bold claim please.

  • by ta bu shi da yu (687699) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:54AM (#29642793) Homepage

    Believe me, almost all Australians know what Woolworths is, and the very, very tiny percentage of the population who don't know the difference between the Woolworths grocery-inspired apple logo and Apple Computer's Apple logo probably a. don't use computers in the first place, and b. can't afford a computer. So no real threat of market dilution there.

  • Re:Apple is ass (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JackDW (904211) on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:07AM (#29643259) Homepage
    Apple is often in the news and often for doing bad things. However, we are hearing about the bad things. Apple regularly gets negative press here.

    That might be because the editors don't like Apple.

    But more likely it's because of the reaction it provokes. Discussions about Apple are rapidly Godwinned by fanboys and haters, engaging in the 21st century version of "vi versus emacs" or "Protestants versus Catholics". This time, Emacs is fashionable, shiny, massively overpriced, sold by an evil version of Microsoft, and ubiquitous in all media. And yet, inexplicably, it's still really popular with nerds.

    When you pay a premium for something, you make a mental commitment to justifying the expense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @10:32AM (#29644063)
    >> 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.

    Are you from Australia? Do you know anything about how popular Woolworths is in Australia? Or you are just making a generic statement about something you don't have a clue about and at the same time, accusing others for doing it?

    You may not be a fanboi, but either you are on your way to become one, or you are just a douche.

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