Apple Opposes Trademark For Indie Film 'Apple-Man' Claiming Potential Confusion
from the billable-hours dept
When it comes to silly trademark disputes, Apple has come up for discussion many, many times. The mega-corporation is a jealous defender of all of its IP, but most of our stories have focused on its disputes with companies that created logos that involve any sort of apple or other fruit. Sometimes it’s not even companies that Apple is fighting with, but entire foreign political parties. The idea here is that when it comes to logos or trade dress, Apple appears to think that it owns all the apples.
But what about the word itself? Well, the company can get absurd at that level, too. For instance, Apple recently opposed the trademark application for a Ukrainian filmmaker’s indie opus, entitled Apple-Man.
Apple in December filed an opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office seeking to block Ukrainian director Vasyl Moskalenko’s trademark application for his indie project. The world’s most valuable company argues that viewers will mistakenly believe Apple-Man is associated with Apple and that the movie will dilute its brand.
“The Apple Marks are so famous and instantly recognizable that the similarities in Applicant’s Mark will overshadow any minor differences and cause the ordinary consumer to believe that Applicant is related to, affiliated with, or endorsed by Apple,” states the filing, which is embedded below. “Consumers are likely to assume, erroneously, that Applicant’s Mark is a further extension of the famous Apple brand.”
Alright, so let’s stipulate the following right up front: Apple’s trademark on its name is no doubt famous. That affords the company far more protection on that mark than your normal everyday trademark. One of the main differences, however, is that Apple can enforce the mark not only for customer confusion, but for things like tarnishment, if someone used the term in a way that could be seen as disparaging to Apple.
In the quote above, Apple is going the traditional confusion route in its opposition. But that’s unbelievably silly. This is an indie film that nobody is going to associate with Apple. It’s also, because it’s a film, entitled to First Amendment protections that are almost certain to override any trademark concerns, particularly those as flimsy as Apple’s.
Elsewhere, Apple argues for dilution.
Apple also argues the trademark, if granted, will “cause dilution of the distinctiveness of the famous Apple Marks by eroding consumers’ exclusive identification of the Apple Marks with Apple.”
But consumers don’t have an exclusive identification of the Apple Marks with Apple. That should be obvious on its face. Lots of companies, for instance, use the term “Apple” in branding for… you know… apples. There have also been other films, more specifically, that make use of the word “apple” in their names. There is one called The Apple. And another called Apples. So what does Apple’s lawyers see as the difference between those films use and Apple-Man? ¯_(?)_/¯
Jeremy Eche of JPG Legal, who represents Moskalenko, argues “apple” isn’t a proprietary word and viewers won’t be misled by the movie.
“This is ridiculous,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “They really want to own the word ‘Apple’ in every industry.”
Eche contends Apple is a “trademark bully” exploiting the system.
Of that there can be little doubt. So why is Apple even bothering with any of this? Well, outside council is involved, so the term “billable hours” immediately leaps to mind. But Apple’s history of trademark bullying also doesn’t exactly preclude a haphazard and capricious enforcement of its trademarks. The lawyers saw this one, so they went after it.
And before anyone wants to jump in the comments and point out that Apple makes and provides film content via AppleTV and iTunes… don’t. Doing so does not suddenly mean the company can keep a filmmaker from making a film that uses the word in its title, nor for trademarking the name of that film.
Filed Under: apple man, trademark, vasyl moskalenko
Comments on “Apple Opposes Trademark For Indie Film 'Apple-Man' Claiming Potential Confusion”
It could have been named Rotten Apple. Apple would have opposed that and… I guess they would have a point of confusion.
So apples keep doctors away, what keeps the lawyers away?
Re: what keeps the lawyers away?
Henry VI, Part 2, Act IV, Scene 2
More specifically, Apple keeps the independent doctor for phones away.
"Hamilton, out_of_the_blue, tp, that means you."
Thank goodness for Apple Records
A.K.A. Apple Corps, Ltd.
Apple: Our customers are INCREDIBLY stupid
No, that makes perfect sense, why just last week I went to the grocery store because I heard they were selling apples and to my great surprise I was pointed towards a pile of fruit. How dare the store and it’s staff deceive people by telling their customers that they are selling apples when they clearly are not, don’t they understand that when someone hears ‘apple’ the only thing that comes to mind is electronics of various types?
Re: Apple: Our customers are INCREDIBLY stupid
This could also mean that since I live in New York City, I live in the big [redacted].
Re: Re: Apple: Our customers are INCREDIBLY stupid
Hey Samuel, maybe this will help to take your mind off the stoopid, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5ySnYNIo2E
Apple opposes Apple-Man trademark
And don’t get Apple started on those “Jobs” bills.
Apple being apple as usual.
Didn't Apple Computing already break their agreement?
Looking at a bit of history, Apple Corp (founded by the Beatles) sued Apple Computer back in 1978. The eventual agreement resulted in Apple Computer paying Apple Corp $80,000 and Apple Computer agreeing to not enter the Music market, while Apple Corp agreed to not enter the computer business.
Seems that iTunes blatantly violates that agreement.
Re: Didn't Apple Computing already break their agreement?
The agreement was revised many times by both parties until the Beatles dropped it in 2009 and agreed to put their music on iTunes.
Let's think about this
If Apple makes Apple TV and Apple Computers, and they’re opposing "Apple Man", then can we assume this means their next big electronics announcement will actually be an Apple Man? Maybe it’s an AI, but better than Siri, or maybe it’s a new robot like Data from Star Trek.
Two proof positives:
Smart people are quite capable of doing stupid things,
All lawyers should be neutered before they can procreate
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Didn't Apple Computing already break their agreement?
Looking at a bit of history, Apple Corp (founded by the Beatles) sued Apple Computer back in 1978. And don’t get Apple started on those "Jobs" bills.
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If they had balls, they'd sue He-Man!
Ok, that was supposed to be a pun. Doesn’t really work, does it? So sue me. Not you, Apple.
Someone should make a movie about Apple. By the time they are done, they’d have enough for another two movies.
They may have a point
If the example of "Florida Man" is of any indication, "Apple Man" may be indicative of something they don’t want associated with the brans.
AppleMan – the superhero who’s rotten to the core.
There’s a famous saying – An Apple a day keeps the doctor away
Thats because no one can afford an iPhone and medical insurance.
Apple Man the movie COULD cause confusion with Apple the company.
If the movie is about a fraudulent bean-counter with the superpower to not pay ANY taxes, and barefaced lie to the public that he did.
Johnny Appleseed is wondering about this!
Dang! so we can tarnish the Apple computer trademark by making a film about their chinese suppliers?? Or Jobs himself?