Apple Forgets About the Moron In A Hurry Test, Threatens School With An Apple In Its Logo

from the comparing-apples-and-oranges dept

It was just a few years ago when Apple used the moron in a hurry test to defend itself against a trademark suit, but their own legal department seems to have forgotten about it already. Apple has sent a cease and desist letter to the Victoria School of Business and Technology for the use of a blue and green apple element in their logo. The Canadian school has created a comparison page on their website in an attempt to highlight the differences between the logos, hoping to dissuade Apple from launching a lawsuit by building public support. The page also contains the legal correspondence to date, including a letter in which the school's president asks if Apple is "suggesting that anyone using any variation of an apple for technology education related use is infringing on Apple's trademark."

The legal question is really about consumer confusion, as the Canadian Supreme Court has understood in the past. Trademark law doesn't grant the holder an exclusive right over every use of a mark, just the right to prevent confusing or misleading use of it. The school is a technology school, but they're also a school -- an apple is a pretty common symbol for education. It seems like "even a moron in a hurry" would recognize the difference between the two logos, especially since the acronym "VSBT" is part of the school's. The real problem here seems to be the requirement of trademark law that the holder of a mark actively polices its use. This requirement encourages these sorts of cease and desist letters, even if it seems like a comparison between apples and oranges.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    eleete, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 5:03pm

    Upcoming Economy

    Getting a little desperate are we, Apple ?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 5:28pm

    Attn; Apple Mouth Pieces

    I think that Betty Crocker uses the word "apple" in several recipes. Better get on that quick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Guillermo, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 5:30pm

    What next, suing a high school for having Jobs name?

    Well, I hope they don't go after Steve Jobs' high school next...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Nick Stamoulis, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 5:50pm

    Hmmm it does look a bit like Apple if you look at their main website and the logo on the side of their building but overall if I were apple, I would not waste my time. There has got to be better things they can be doing. Come on...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Upcoming Economy

    Not Desperate, just full of themselves. Apple sucks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 6:12pm

    In Canada, we don't worry about moron's in a hurry. We have, enshrined in precedent, the "reasonable man test".

    That means we don't worry what a moron (or Apple lawyer) would confuse only what the average reasonable person might think. I know what you're thinking, reasonable people don't exist in law. But, that's the precedent.

    Apple's only chance is to get the school to run away from law bills.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Overcast, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 6:14pm

    Yeah, seriously - who would try to imitate their lame logo?

    They should go after New York too since they are sometimes known as 'The Big Apple'

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    mojo, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 6:21pm

    Oh, the irony

    Let's remember that Steve Jobbs STOLE the name and logo for his company from The Beatles' APPLE RECORDS (Jobbs is a huge Beatles fan and wanted to pay homage to his favorite band when he started out).

    This is fact, and Apple Computer has had to settle lawsuit after lawsuit as their company has grown.

    Oh, the irony!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    mojo, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 6:26pm

    Apple sues NYC too

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Ed G., Oct 7th, 2008 @ 6:54pm

    Why not...

    Hey Apple. How about going after that pesky "Apple Capital of the World" Wenatchee, WA? Or any of the many apple packers from Washington that use an apple in their logos? It sure seems that far too many people would end up buying a box of apples all the while thinking they were getting a kick ass Mac G5...ummm....ya think? Oh by the way, if you do file suit and win any monetary award, I will file a claim for my finder's fee. Sound unreasonable? So is your litigious nature.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    ▂▅▇█▓▒░ANONYMOUS░▒▓█▇▅, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 8:37pm

    Don't give them ideas, and please don't feed the trolls.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    NullOp, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 8:52pm

    Apples and Logos

    OK, Apple's apple looks like an icon. The other looks like, well, a logo. They are clearly NOT the same thing. Not even close. So, Apple, stop trying to bully everyone!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 9:24pm

    There are sufficient similarities that I can understand why it might be of interest to Apple. It is the letter that was sent by a relatively junior associate in a large firm that I find mystifying. Experience tells me the letter writer has been spending time with the managers of the law firm trying to explain what the heck she was thinking before sending out something so dumb. I could be wrong, but my gut tells me she has likely hurt her chances of ever becoming a partner in the firm.

    It used to be, until the mid to late '80s, that matters such as these were typically handled by IP firms that were thoroughly grounded in all aspects of IP law, due in large part to the critical need to understand how all of these various IP law operate in tandem. Since then general practice firms have inserted themselves into this area of law, and in many instances have an imperfect understanding of what the body of law actually represents...and letters such as this exemplify much of the problem (not only in trademarks matters, but also in copyright and patent matters, and in particular litigation).

    Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and Apple will direct the firm, if the firm has not done so already, to change its stance and work with the school to cooperatively develop a mutually acceptable solution.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    crucible, Oct 7th, 2008 @ 10:30pm

    Apple Forgets About the Moron In A Hurry Test

    What if the school decided to use the logo in silhouette? The distinguishing features disappear then. The school had to know who's toes they where stepping on, especially when they put that leaf in there. And look at all the free publicity they're getting. I smell a rat.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Twinrova, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 3:49am

    Give Apple a taste of its own medicine.

    Maybe apple growers, who've used an apple in their long before Apple came along, should sue for trademark infringement.

    That'll shut 'em up. /sarcasm

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Vincent Clement, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 5:46am

    Not Particularly Impressed

    Love the response letter by VSBT. I like that VSBT didn't send their letter until two weeks after the deadline in the Baker & McKenzie letter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. icon
    churchHatesTucker (profile), Oct 8th, 2008 @ 6:37am

    So, the Moron in a Hurry... an IP lawyer?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    arn, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 10:37am

    Here's the logo in use. I think a moron in a hurry would be confused.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    claire rand, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 1:54pm

    free PR

    how hard would it be for organisations like this to reach an agreement?

    there is then no dilution of the trademark since its being 'licensed' probably for a minimal amount, possibly with the "value" of the agreement equalled by a corporate donation to the organisation (in the case where it will allow a tax write down).

    the company (e.g. apple) doesn't make a huge song and dance, but gets a one liner at the bottom of the poster or paperwork using the logo (not on the basic signs) indicated the logo appears with the agreement of "x"

    no actual need for this, but it avoids expensive legal spats and _bad_ PR.

    then this can be used as an example of how open to discussions the company is when they feel the need to drop the hammer on something that "harms" the brand?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    Sos, Oct 8th, 2008 @ 2:39pm

    My old primary school

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    glow worm, Apr 5th, 2014 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Upcoming Economy

    Apple sucks just like iphones. Go android
    Kik them in the battle

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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