Too Much Free Time

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
apple, australia, trademark

Companies:
apple, woolworths



Do Morons In A Hurry Shop For iPhones At Woolworths Down Under?

from the confusion-time dept

Ah, the glorious trademark dispute. Apparently Apple is quite upset at Woolworths, the Australia and New Zealand supermarket chain (apparently not connected to the now defunct chain in the US, though that is where the name came from), because the Woolworths down under has decided to use a logo with a stylized W made to sorta, kinda, maybe if you squint and shake your head rapidly look like Apple's apple logo, but not really:
Honestly, I have no idea how anyone can claim the two logos are similar in a way that might lead to even the slightest bit of confusion. The claim from Apple is that its concern is that Woolworths wants the mark to potentially include electronics and technology, should it decide to sell those. But, even so, no one would confuse these two. No one would think that there's any likelihood of one endorsing the other even slightly.

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  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:06pm

    Oh for frak's sake

    Apple itself ran afoul of Apple's IM. You would think they'd cut some slack.

    But only if you were a reasonable person and not, say, a lawyer.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:32pm

      Re: Oh for frak's sake

      You meant liar?

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

      • icon
        Brooks (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:39pm

        Re: Re: Oh for frak's sake

        Crap, is that the word for defense attorneys who mount a legitimate defense even if they personally doubt a client's innocence?

        Lawyers are obligated to represent their clients' interests. Whether to pursue trademark claims like this is a business decision made by business people. The lawyers merely advise on odds of winning and execute whatever decision is made (note that some lawyers are also executives).

        Heck, I'm not a lawyer, generally don't like 'em that much, but let's at least put blame where it belongs.

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

        • icon
          Marcus Carab (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: Oh for frak's sake

          I agree that it's not fair to simply beat up on lawyers, especially not individual ones.

          But I don think some (a lot?) of the blame for IP issues falls on lawyers. In a situation like this, for example, I find it unlikely that challenging this logo was some sort of large-scale corporate decision, handed down from big-picture thinkers to the legal department. More likely it was part of the day-to-day work of the trademark department: hunting down anything that could possibly be called infringement, and then targeting it with injunctions and lawsuits.

          "Protecting trademarks" has become nothing more than a mechanical procedure at a lot of companies, and is managed by departments staffed entirely with lawyers, who all get a nice paycheque and would like it to stay that way. At no point in a situation like this one does anyone ask "What are the pros/cons of pursuing this to our company as a whole?" or even "Does this *really* count as infrigement?" - the only question asked is "Can we win?"

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

  • identicon
    Ben Snitkoff, 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:43pm

    Woolworth Could Have Saved Themselves Some Trouble

    They registered their trademark for *everything* including electronics. If they had limited it to what they actually sell, food, they probably wouldn't be having this problem right now.

    Blame them for trying to extend their IP rights further than they deserve.

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

    • icon
      Misanthropist (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:19pm

      Re: Woolworth Could Have Saved Themselves Some Trouble

      they make and sell phones

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

    • identicon
      Nick Coghlan, 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Woolworth Could Have Saved Themselves Some Trouble

      I shop at Woolworths every week - they definitely sell electronics. Think things like toasters, kettles, heaters, fans, battery chargers, etc. They also have items like sheets, DVDs, etc. Sure, those things aren't the focus of the supermarkets, but they're there.

      It makes a little more sense when you consider that the same company also owns Big W, a department store chain. Diverting some of the department store products to appear on the shelves at the supermarket chain isn't exactly difficult for them and can lead to extra sales.

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

      • identicon
        Nick Coghlan, 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:59pm

        Re: Re: Woolworth Could Have Saved Themselves Some Trouble

        Technically, several of the things I listed would be "electrical goods" rather than "electronics" per se. They definitely do sell some electronics however - pretty much everything that they sell at Big W is a candidate for appearing on the shelves at Woolworths (especially cheaper items that would fall into the 'impulse buy' price range for many people).

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

        • identicon
          Ilfar, 5 Oct 2009 @ 6:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: Woolworth Could Have Saved Themselves Some Trouble

          USB flash drives come free with certain packs of DVD-Rs at the moment, that's about the only electronics type good I can think of off the top of my head...

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

    • identicon
      Valkor, 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:08pm

      Re: Woolworth Could Have Saved Themselves Some Trouble

      Or... they could wait until Woolworth's was actually selling a piece of consumer electronics with a noticeable lack of seams and buttons and *then* sue! They'd have better evidence and also not look like total asshats.

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

    • identicon
      Jim, He's Dead, 6 Oct 2009 @ 6:28am

      Re: Woolworth Could Have Saved Themselves Some Trouble

      Wow Ben, an Apple fanboy has no boundaries.

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

  • icon
    imbrucy (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:44pm

    Green Apple

    Mike why is the apple logo green in the picture? I mean it makes them look slightly more similar but if you use the silver Apple logo they look nothing alike. The only remote similarity I see is kinda the stem at the top, but that's only because there are only so many ways to draw the stem of an apple.

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

  • icon
    Robert Ring (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:52pm

    Not to mention the fact that Apple rarely if ever (I've never seen them do it) prints their logo in green.

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

  • icon
    thublihnk (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:55pm

    gurr

    Mike, I am heartily angry at you for making me squint my eyes and shake my head while reading your article, only to realize mid-shake that I was in a crowded room of people.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Kansas Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:56pm

    You're kidding, right, guys? Those logos are identical as far as I can tell.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 12:58pm

    I hear that Eve (originator of the apple) is planning on filing suit against both of them, Don't screw with mother nature!

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

  • identicon
    Vic, 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Some comments there are very interesting to read too.
    On another thought: Apple should start protecting all similar fruit logos as well. Just to be on a safe side. Expand it to pears, oranges, mango and so on. I'm not sure about vegetables, though... But a tomato can also be green and has a stem and leaves... Shaky ground.

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

    • identicon
      MattP, 6 Oct 2009 @ 9:33am

      Re:

      ...and open themselves up to 'Fruit of the Loom'! [FotL] can't take a chance that Apple won't devise some electronically climate controlled briefs at some point in the future. Their only recourse is an aggressive lawsuit to protect their IP.

      /s

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

    • identicon
      MattP, 6 Oct 2009 @ 9:33am

      Re:

      ...and open themselves up to 'Fruit of the Loom'! [FotL] can't take a chance that Apple won't devise some electronically climate controlled briefs at some point in the future. Their only recourse is an aggressive lawsuit to protect their IP.

      /s

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:28pm

    Sweet! I haven't read the article but am I right in assuming from the pictures that apple is finally opening its own grocery stores?

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

  • identicon
    Michael Kohne, 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:39pm

    Woolworths...

    I'm sure Woolworth's just wants to keep their options open (they are into a bit more than just groceries. Look at their network of Petrol stations, for instance. Caltex supplies the Petrol, but those are Woolworth's stations). They probably do plan to expand into other markets (like electronics sales).

    I suspect they designed their logo based on the fact that they do sell a LOT of groceries. And frankly, it seems like Apple is REALLY going out long on this one - even if they are in the same market, I don't think those logos are close enough to be a problem.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:48pm

    Do Morons In A Hurry Shop For iPhones At Woolworths Down Under?

    No, they shop for Prés at Telstra, which until recently was run by Mr. Solomon Trujillo.

    But, I have to admit, the clever use of "The Happy Hedgehog" film in the 'Silence your phone' by Sprint in the previews of "Capitalism: A Love Story".

    Mikey always says hello, but usually by biting. Sorry about the frame size, but HD was all I had available.

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

  • icon
    Shawn (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 1:48pm

    I think to top it off Woolworths is calling the stockpeople Produce Genius's and Deli workers Cold Cut Genius's

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

  • icon
    roxanneadams (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:02pm

    Someone in the legal department at Apple is definitely smoking crack.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:05pm

    Personally, I thought it looked more like the Walgreens' W.

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

  • icon
    slackr (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Ahhh but what is an Apple?

    Customer: I'd like to buy and apple please
    Shop assistant: is that the iPod Touch or Granny Smith?

    Give me a break Apple. Dare I say that supermarkets existed well before a technology company started using fruit as a logo...

    Personally I think the giant red writing underneath that says Woolworths gives the game away! Besides if someone can't read that, they're hardly going to spring for a piece of technology that's infinitely more complex to use.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:29pm

    Apple definitely has a better case here than to sue a city (New York City) for using a similar logo. Woolsworth already claims that they currently don't sell branded electronics (yet). Even an idiot, much less a moron, knows the difference between a city and a piece of electronic.

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

  • icon
    william (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 2:58pm

    supposed to be nothing major... yet

    According to the Engadget article I just read, http://www.engadget.com/2009/10/05/apple-woolworths-in-australian-trademark-dispute-media-in-hys/, Apple just filed an "opposition".

    Supposingly company files "opposition" all the time in order to show (a history) that they are "defending" their trademark, or else they'll risk losing their trademark.

    Once the filing period is over and an actual lawsuit becomes real then it's a major event. Right now, not so much (according to Engadget).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Oct 2009 @ 5:04pm

    Oh please, anyone can tell that the logo is actually an upside down ripoff of the MacDonalds logo.

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

  • identicon
    Chris Chastain, 5 Oct 2009 @ 8:27pm

    The problem is..

    Woolworths now owns Tandy/Radio Shack worldwide along with Dick Smith Electronics in Australia, and can use their logo to sell competing products in that context. I doubt they would, but it is a possibility.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woolworths_Limited#Consumer_electronics

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

  • identicon
    Frosty840, 5 Oct 2009 @ 10:28pm

    Well, Mike, to use your own test in these circumstances, yes, a moron in a hurry could easily confuse those two logos.

    Granted, those of us who've been saturated in Apple's marketing nonsense for their dreadful products for the better part of the last decade probably wouldn't mistake any Apple packaging for that of whatever devices Woolworths decides to release, but given that (A) people really are stupid (B) supermarkets will try anything to make a fast buck (C) Woolworths won't either confirm or deny whether they're planning to make any iProduct ripoffs, I pretty much have to sympathise with Apple here in that because Woolworths won't give them any reassurances, they've got to go on an early trademark-protection offensive.

    I don't, however, have to like it.

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

  • icon
    slander (profile), 5 Oct 2009 @ 11:47pm

    Do Hipsters In A Hurry Shop For iPhones?

    natch

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

  • icon
    rwahrens (profile), 6 Oct 2009 @ 4:15am

    Just another Techdirt hit piece on Apple

    Mike doesn't seem to like Apple much. I don't think I've ever seen him say anything nice about them. Just negative stuff.

    This is really just Apple protesting the inclusion of the Woolworth's logo into the consumer electronics market. Mike knows that companies defend similarities to their logos all the time when a potential competitor comes up with one even remotely comparable. Trademark law is not like copyright, which does not have to be defended vigorously to stand up in court.

    Apple may not even expect the Aussie government to come down on their side, but this is further proof that Apple takes regular action to defend their trademark.

    This action may come in handy someday in a real court action against a real threat, as a reference to Apple's vigor in protecting that trademark.

    Come on, Mike, give it a rest.

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

  • identicon
    Dave, 6 Oct 2009 @ 12:17pm

    Doh!

    Oh....for goodness' sake! What next? Copyright on prunes or something equally insane!

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

  • identicon
    JMG, 6 Oct 2009 @ 2:36pm

    Morons in a Hurry...

    I like the phrase, but everytime I see it on this site, it makes me pause a second because it always reads as "Mormons in a hurry" to me. Maybe that says something subconciously about the way I feel about LDSers, or that I just watch to much Big Love....

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


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