Apples Only For Apple: Apple Opposes A German Bicycle Path

from the apfel dept

Apple, the company, has long made it known that it believes that only it can use an apple, the fruit, in a corporate logo. This rather incorrect belief has led the company down some rather silly trademark roads, including disputes with all kinds of companies in unrelated industries, as well as disputes with some political parties for some reason. It's all been delightfully insane and all led by Apple's insistence that it has trademark rights that are far more broad than is the reality.

But just when you think it can't get more absurd, Apple goes ahead and files an opposition and sends out cease and desist notices...over a German bicycle path. I fear some explanation may be necessary.

Apple recently objected to the logo of a new German cycling path in an appeal filed with the German Patent and Trademark Office, according to German outlets General-Anzeiger Bonn and Westdeutscher Rundfunk.  Apple reportedly takes issue with the logo's green leaf and supposed "bitten" right side, attributes the company believes are too similar to its own logo.

The logo, registered with the German Patent and Trademark Office in 2018, was designed for a new cycling path named Apfelroute that is set to open in the Rhine-Voreifel region of Germany on May 19. Rhine-Voreifel Tourism has already used the logo on uniforms, bike racks, cycling maps, banners, signposts, and more.

So, a green leaf and a bitten right side of the logo sure do sound specific. Perhaps you're already conjuring some picture of the Apfelroute logo in your head, imagining there to be some reasonable impression possible of likeness. Maybe you're thinking, hey, no way would Apple's lawyers fire off these notices to a German bike path unless this was really egregious, right?

Here's the logos. You tell me.

Any sane viewing of those logos should not result in any confusion, plain and simple. And that's just on the logos, without any context. When you add into the equation that trademark laws generally protect specific marks within specific industries and, in this case, the two "competitors" are one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world and a local German tourism organization for a bike path, then we can put this whole story flatly in the category of the absurd.

Yes, some will take issue with the specific shape and angle of the leaf on the top of Apfelroute's apple. But if that's the best you can do concerning to logos that are so plainly different, such complaints say more about you than they do the logos themselves.

Filed Under: apple, bicycle path, germany, likelihood of confusion, trademark
Companies: apple


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  1. identicon
    Just Some Guy, 9 May 2019 @ 8:49pm

    Unlikely to succeed?

    Though in a different jurisdiction, Apple tried this in Australia back in 2009 when they tried to stop the Woolworths stylised-W trademark.

    Ended up withdrawing, I believe, possibly because every man+dog thought they were being stupid :-)

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2019 @ 9:09pm

    The "bitten right side" aside, I'd like to focus on the leaf. Specifically the "green" bit. Why is the "green" color in the German logo worth mentioning? When was the last time Apple's logo was green instead of white?

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

  3. icon
    Rico R. (profile), 9 May 2019 @ 9:17pm

    Confusingly dissimilar...?

    To me, the ApfelRoute logo looks closer to the Intel logo than the Apple logo... Not confusingly similar, of course! But if Apple, Inc. doesn't understand that trademarks aren't like other kinds of "IP" (at least here in the states), it'll only be a matter of time before they start going over actual apple companies, especially McIntosh. I know they likely named their Macintosh computer lines after that apple brand, but we now live in an age where dates don't matter for "IP" infringement... Just look at the earlier article about the Jimmy Fallon/ContentID blunder!!

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 May 2019 @ 11:40pm

    Abstraction

    Clearly Apple knows what's it doing. With decades of programming experience, even creating their own language (Objective-C, the best), it sure must have spilled someday Swiftly over into the legal department and I-Object was born. Being proponents of good methologies, the lawgrammers quickly found numerous ways of abstraction. So now they just see that in their business they are moving hands, and the bicycle track owners are moving hands as well for whatever. In that sense creating an operating system and refilling air in the bicycle must be the same, the same business after all...

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2019 @ 3:07am

    Oh no: I meant to ride a bicycle trail, but accidentally bough a iPhone instead.

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

  6. identicon
    Capt ICE Enforcer, 10 May 2019 @ 4:12am

    I see.

    I am actually confused. The one apple looks fresh, ripe, innovative and attracts the attention of all those around. It also brings people and businesses together for a common goal. The other apple looks old, bland, and doesn't really show anything other than being thrown out after the first distasteful bite.

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

  7. identicon
    Michael, 10 May 2019 @ 5:06am

    Re:

    Come on, that's not even realistic.

    But I will tell you that just last week, I was in Germany, my iPhone broke and when I rode my bike down the path that indicated there was an Apple store at the end, I could not find it at all.

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

  8. identicon
    Bobvious, 10 May 2019 @ 5:49am

    Comment t'Apple ][ ?

    Je m'Apple quoi, Je m'Apple qui?

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2019 @ 6:20am

    Re: Re:

    Two things:

    I'd never deliberately buy an Apple product, so that way the only way it was ever going to work out.

    Also let me introduce you to a thing called sarcasm.

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2019 @ 6:45am

    I thought that as part of their agreement with the Beatles they would not be doing business in the music industry.

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2019 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    Apple's logo from 1976 to 1998 used a green leaf. Personally I think it is a dumb lawsuit but when I saw the greenleaf, I was thinking that part looked like the old logo. But that is the only part.

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

  12. identicon
    Glen, 10 May 2019 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I may be mistaken but it looks like Michael served some decent sarcasm back.

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

  13. icon
    nasch (profile), 10 May 2019 @ 8:30am

    Re: Confusingly dissimilar...?

    I know they likely named their Macintosh computer lines after that apple brand

    Indeed, an employee named it after his favorite kind of apple.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 May 2019 @ 9:17am

    Re: Comment t'Apple ][ ?

    Vous est Bobvious. Pourquoi?

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

  15. icon
    John85851 (profile), 10 May 2019 @ 10:15am

    Apple Macintosh

    I can see why Apple is going down this path.

    Just the other day, I was in the supermarket and a sign sad "Apple Macintosh on sale". Sweet! I could use a new laptop.

    But to my disappointment, the store was selling fruit! How misleading!

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

  16. icon
    Darkness Of Course (profile), 10 May 2019 @ 11:21am

    I thought you said pain and simple

    It does cause me pain to see apple doing something this stupid.

    Heavy handed trademark enforcement is never a good look.

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

  17. icon
    Zof (profile), 10 May 2019 @ 11:27am

    Nonsense like this

    Apple tries to pretend they are more important than they are. That's why they appeal to folks with that character flaw.

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

  18. identicon
    TFG, 10 May 2019 @ 1:08pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    As Glen noted above, you are apparently not good at recognizing ... well, perhaps it's not technically sarcasm, but it was a joke.

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

  19. identicon
    Bobvious, 10 May 2019 @ 4:32pm

    Re: Unlikely to succeed?

    Speaking of Australia. Here's some prior art, pre Apple Computer Company/Inc.

    This photo of Apla drink pre-1976, http://www.canmuseum.com/Detail.aspx?CanID=84663&Member= , shows an apple-bite pre Jobs+Wozniak. I am reliably informed that this drink was available in 1974 (and most likely in 1973), pre Jobs+Wozniak.

    If there is the slightest similarity between the two logos, it would seem Apple Company/Inc has ahem, "borrowed" from the Apla prior art.

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


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