Apple vs Apple: iPhone creator wants Swiss firm's logo changed

Apple has filed 215 trademark oppositions, more than the combined filings by Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook.
Sejal Sharma
Fruit Union Suisse (left) and Apple Inc (right)
Fruit Union Suisse (left) and Apple Inc (right)

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Tech giant Apple Inc doesn’t want any other company in the world to use an apple as its logo. Half-eaten or not.

Even if a company has a white cross plastered over the Apple graphic, the tech giant won’t have it. 

According to a report published in Wired, Apple Inc is after a 111-year-old fruit growers association in Switzerland called Fruit Union Suisse.

Apple Inc's long tryst with apples

Reportedly, Apple Inc first trademarked the fruit in 2009 and now holds the right over the logo in 84 jurisdictions across the world. The company and the Swiss government have been vacillating since 2017 over intellectual property rights for a black-and-white rendition of the fruit.

The Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property(IIP) partially granted Apple’s request last year, citing a legal principle that considers generic images of common goods like apples to be in the public domain, said Wired in its report. Apple is appealing this decision.

“We’re not looking to compete with Apple; we have no intention of going into the same field as them,” said Jimmy Mariéthoz, director of Fruit Union Suisse.

“We have a hard time understanding this because it’s not like they’re trying to protect their bitten apple. Their objective here is really to own the rights to an actual apple, which, for us, is something that is really almost universal … that should be free for everyone to use,” he added.

There's precedent

This isn’t the first time that Apple has come after an organization for using a rendition of the fruit in its logo. 

According to the Tech Transparency Project(TTP), Apple sued a small design firm called Paperapple that sells greeting cards and stationery. The firm had filed for a trademark on the business logo in 2019, and a couple of months later they received a 283-page notice of opposition from Apple’s lawyers. TTP reported that the owners of the small organization were left stunned.

A TTP-led investigation into Apple’s ‘targeting’ of small businesses found that it has previously sued an autism support organization and a school district in Appleton, Wisconsin for using Apple in their logos.

Apple had, in three years, filed 215 trademark oppositions, more than the combined 136 filings by companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. “It’s not clear what Apple gains from this behavior; the other tech giants also hold a variety of trademarks based on common words like Prime, Windows, Nest, and Ring, but aren’t nearly as litigious,” said TTP in its observations.

Mariéthoz told Wired that millions of dollars are at stake if Switzerland’s IIP grants Apple the full trademark over the fruit. It would mean that the association will bleed money to rebrand its logo.

“You know, Apple didn’t invent apples … We have been around for 111 years. And I think apples have been around for a few thousand more,” noted Mariéthoz. 

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