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Apple, New York City In Legal Dispute Over Logo 254

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 Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:53PM (#22975666)
    This is a perfect test for trademark fair use. This is what it was designed for. Nobody owns the image of an apple and it is absurd for Apple Computer to claim that. I'm surprised that Apple Computer is continuing on this course. Their opponent is an environmental organization. This will not look good to their customer base.
  • by Hempy ( 170448 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:55PM (#22975674)
    Where's the problem here? It's not like NYC tried to call themselves "i(The Big Apple)" or "The Big iApple". I also wonder about all of those T-Shirts and bumper stickers that read "I NYC". Do you think people will start getting sued for wearing one or will it be the manufacturer for making them? "Next up at 10, supermarkets across the nation selling apples must pay licensing fees to Apple, Inc. for displaying them on their shelves and using them in their weekly advertisements."
  • by Cedric Tsui ( 890887 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @06:59PM (#22975690)
    Wow. Apple may actually have a case here. One of the anonymous comments in TFA from a graphics designer is fantastic. I can't link to it, so I'll copy it.

    Subject: Apples to Oranges, Image Attached!
    Sat Apr 05, 2008 5:16 am

    I worked for many years as a graphic designer and found that most artists "borrow" good design. That is what we are taught to do. It's not blatant plagiarism, but used as the root in preliminary design and eventual fruit in this case, of the final design.

    After comparing the two side by side, or rather overlayed one atop the other and turned into transparencies, it is clear the original apple logo was used as the basis for the design in question.

    If you look closely you can see the greenNYC logo follows the exact curve of the apple and in fact may have been "cookie cut" from an actual Apple Inc. logo using special image editing tools.

    You can go through thousands of clip art and dingbats and not come across the same curve. However, I have seen the Apple logo as a symbol in a couple typefaces presumably placed there by a dedicated fan.(???)

    It is not uncommon to paste dozens of similar logos and symbols all over the work area to help along the process.

    This artist took it a little too far and figured no one would notice. Some of us hear myths about changing a design by a certain percent makes it okay...well not quite.

    The designer probably put a stylized letter "S", squashed it, flopped it, and punched it out of the Apple Inc. logo. Then tweaked the ends of the "S" and fused on the stem.

    Then they grabbed the Apple Inc. leaf and flopped it and moved it slightly down and to the left.

    "Down, and to the left. Down and to the left..."

    *image was posted here* []

    I've been guilty of similar blunders, and was surprised when my client caught it...even though it had a different typeface, different colors, different markets AND my own Icon built from scratch!

    Too similar he go.

    That's when I learned just placing elements the same as another can make you out as a copy cat even though the artwork is your own.

    Go easy on the designer...

    Probably up way too late, from way too many lattes for way too little money.

    I guarantee you Apple Inc. paid more to challenge the design than the actual designer got paid in the first place.

    There's just no money in it.

    Sad but true.

    Many so called design firms hire freelance that are often out of the country like India for mere pennies compared to established firms in the U.S.

    You have a better chance of being a movie star than getting rich playing designer! Find a friend in the business and latch on, otherwise you're just another pretty fish.

    My 2 cents anyway.

    If you can't access the link above just click here or copy and paste the address into your address bar to view the image. []
  • by Aglassis ( 10161 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @07:10PM (#22975740)

    Does anybody know why the *GREEN* NYC logo is not... err... green?
    So it will go with the black background on the web site. Though technically, due to the infinity symbol, it should be blue [].
  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @07:24PM (#22975824)
    Look at this example, too: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 05, 2008 @07:30PM (#22975886)
    I'm not sure exactly what qualifications are necessary to say the shape is the same, but I'm pretty sure whoever says they are is missing them. I overlaid the images with photoshop and changed the mode to multiply. With the heights the same the logos don't match at all. Flipped horizontally they still don't. Scaled to 112% horizontally (while keeping vertical the same) does get the sides to line up very well, but the curves at the top and bottom still don't match properly.

    Not to mention the bite is missing, the curved bottom of the Apple logo is a pointed bottom on the NYC logo, there is a stem on the NYC logo, and the leaves don't even curve in the same direction (down for Apple, up for the NYC logo).

    All in all, the *only* thing these logos have in common is an apple-like shape. And I think that actual apples own the copyright on that.
  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @09:38PM (#22976702) Homepage Journal

    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 limits to their use of the apple logo.

    Now they go after one of the best known cities in the world that has been the "Big Apple", complete with apple imagry since before anyone at Apple computers was born.

    I suppose next they'll try to sue an orchard.

  • by lpq ( 583377 ) on Saturday April 05, 2008 @11:43PM (#22977324) Homepage Journal
    Wasn't there a dispute about Apple's logo vs. the apple logo used by the Beatles?

    Would New York's logo possibly be closer to the Beatle's logo?

    Wasn't the eventual outcome that there was no trademark confusion between Apple and Beatles's apple use because they were in different fields at the time (computers vs. music). Of course with the iTunes store, that issue has come up again...

    But for NYC vs. Apple, wouldn't similar principles apply -- i.e. they are separate entities that are not likely to be confused?

    Hasn't an apple been used in NYC logo-material since before Apple-Computers even existed?

  • by sweet_petunias_full_ ( 1091547 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @02:01AM (#22977912)

    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 against borderline cases like this any way they can.

    A long time ago, Apple got to keep their name only because they didn't sell records. That seemed fair enough at the time. Now it's not entirely clear who would win should there be a renewed dispute with Apple Records because the computer company has now become the #1 music seller. It would be very interesting to see what would happen if Apple Records began their own iTunes equivalent or licensed their brand to the makers of cheap ipod knockoffs. That would be ironic, but if it never happens it will be because of the credible threat of red ink flowing as a result, created by the lawyers acting as they do, regardless of what seems fair.

    ...Which comes to prove that lawyers would make really good terrorists. :-P

  • by Lemmy Caution ( 8378 ) on Sunday April 06, 2008 @02:04AM (#22977922) Homepage
    It will be the "system working as intended" if they find against Apple. Likewise, if I sue you for something utterly ridiculous and it is thrown out, then the system is "working as intended."

    That doesn't make the initial filing any less worthy of ridicule or critique.

    I actually don't think Apple has a stake in each and every use of an apple in a logo or other iconic circumstance, any more than T-Mobile does with the color magenta or IBM with stripes.

The moon may be smaller than Earth, but it's further away.