Effect Measure

Not the Apple of my eye

I’m writing this on an Apple Computer (a MacBook Pro). I’ve been using Apple products since 1981. I love (heart?) New York, too. Great city, full of energy. Few cities equal it in my opinion (Paris or Barcelona maybe). Now Apple Computer (the company) has filed a trademark challenge against GreeNYC, saying New York Mayor Bloomberg’s environmental logo featuring a stylized apple looks too much like Apple’s trademarked logo. In fact they look nothing like each other. You be the judge:

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Source: MacObserver

GreeNYC is New York City’s fledgling environmental effort. Apple Computer is a giant computer company whose own environmental efforts have been uneven (at best). While they are fighting this out in legal terms (according to MacObserver, GreeNYC is countering “that the infinity apple symbol and the group’s environmental approach were unique, a key word in the area of registered trademarks”), in reality this dispute is so stupid and so petty on Apple’s part as to defy imagination. Looking at the two trademarks no one is going to be confused (except maybe a dumbass intellectual property lawyer, whose confusion is no doubt time-slip related).

I love their computers but Apple the company is acting too much like Microsoft.

Comments

  1. #1 Lea
    April 8, 2008

    Stupid yes however it’ll get Apple Computer’s attention. Most likely the bottom line here revere-Be.

    Maybe it’s the style of the leaf that’s similar. Who cares?!

  2. #2 tony
    April 8, 2008

    Yet another example of what happens when you have too many lawyers on the payroll. Having been involved in trademark battles, I do know it sometimes is necessary to go after something this dissimilar in order to gain as wide an interpretation of what infringes your trademark as possible.

  3. #3 David Dugan
    April 8, 2008

    What most people do not seem to realize here is that part of being granted a trademark by the United States Patent Office is an *obligation* to defend your trademark against all perceived infringements. Whether or not this logo is a rip-off of Apple’s logo, Apple has to defend their trademark, or risk losing it the next time it comes under attack. That’s how trademarks work. It’s a bit sensationalistic to try to make them out to be bad guys here.

    Also, go check out this post at the Blue Ember blog, look at the 3-year old packagin for iLife ’05, and tell me if you still think Apple was not the “inspiration” for this GreeNYC campaign :)

  4. #4 Michael Pezzulli
    April 8, 2008

    What!! (a dumbass intellectual property lawyer, whose confustion is no doubt time-slip related.)” You may write as well as Shakespeare, but I never thought you believed in killing all the lawyers. Give us a break. Why blame the lawyers when Apple is doing nothing more than showing its worm.
    I really doubt that Apple Corporate is directed and controlled by any lawyer or scientist for that matter.
    Michael

  5. #5 Hank Roberts
    April 8, 2008

    I don’t suppose NY is still allowed to refer to itself as “The Big Apple” these days, is it?

  6. #6 pft
    April 8, 2008

    I am surprised Monsanto does not have a patent on the Apple too.

    Bloombergs apple did not at first glance even look like an apple to me. Looked like a snake being attacked by a raindrop. I see it now. Apples apple looks like a real apple. I think Monasanto should patent it, then they can force Apple to buy their seeds for their new Apples.

  7. #7 revere
    April 8, 2008

    The argument that “the law made me do it” is not very persuasive to me. The current intellectual property system is a corrupt and greedy one (IMHO) and this is typical of the nonsense that goes on there. These two logos don’t look anything like each other and any legal requirement or interpretation that maintains they do is ridiculous. Michael, I do not subscribe to the proposition that an attack on some lawyers is an attack on all lawyers, so I do not understand your argument. There are lawyers who use the law wrongly, just as there are doctors who use medicine wrongly and there are doctors who practice a worthless kind of medicine as well, just as there are lawyers who practice a worthless or even harmful kind of law.

  8. #8 Michael Pezzulli
    April 9, 2008

    My observation was really a gentle jab in the direction that your comment about lawyers was nothing more than speculation and unnecessary. I totally agree that there are bad lawyers and bad doctors with neither statement tending to advance the perfectly valid point you are making about Apple’s bad conduct.
    On the other hand, I do adhere to the proposition that a lawyer with an ounce of ethics should have the courage to tell his client that what he is doing is wrong and he should not do it. Unfortunately too few lawyers tend to recognize the duty to have independent judgment and more than a few do tend to operate on a “time-slip” basis.

  9. #9 anon
    April 9, 2008

    what have computers to do with apples anyway ?
    Something must be wrong with the trademark laws.

  10. #10 anon
    April 9, 2008

    I’m waiting for the first company whose sole purpose
    is to create logos and trademarks and copyright
    numbers and then suing others for using their
    “intellectual property”.

  11. #11 anon
    April 9, 2008

    anon, they exist and are called “patent trolls”.

  12. #12 anon
    April 9, 2008

    >>I’m waiting for the first company whose sole purpose
    >>is to create logos and trademarks and copyright
    >>numbers and then suing others for using their
    >>”intellectual property”.

    anon, they exist and are called “patent trolls”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_troll

  13. #13 Dan Foote
    April 9, 2008

    People who blame the lawyer when they disagree with the lawyer’s client of off base. It is the client who drives the litigation. Unless the claim is frivolous, it is not the lawyer’s place to make the client’s decisions for the client.

    And this is not a frivolous case. You say that the logos look nothing alike. The pictures in the post appear to have been either randomly selected or specially selected to deemphasize their similarities. But I would bet that there are other versions of each of these logos that look remarkably alike. (In fact, a quick google image search of “GreeNYC” turned up a green logo on a white background that looks remarkably “Apple”-esque)

    Indeed, the overall shapes of the apples are similar (aside, obviously, from both being “apple” shaped), as are the purportions of width to height; the shape and placement (as in not connected to the apple) of the leaf, etc.

    Apple does have a case here. It might not be a strong one, but it does have one.

  14. #14 tonyl
    April 9, 2008

    I love their computers but Apple the company is acting too much like Microsoft.

    Huh? Apple has always acted like this. (well, at least for the past 15 years or so)

  15. #15 revere
    April 9, 2008

    Dan: Some (I’ll concede probably not most) litigation is generated by the legal litigators. After all, they have an interest in seeing there is litigation. This is true both for the legendary ambulance chasers in tort law or the intellectual property lawyers (often outside counsel) in corporate law or the SLAPP suiters in environmental law, etc. So while the client may be mostly at fault, there are many instances where the client goes along with a suggestion from the lawyers.

    Regarding the Apple infringement issue, this is certainly not a frivolous cmplaint. It is clearly meant to achieve a specific objective. But as a layperson with no animus against either party but a fondness for both (hence the opening sentences) this is a dispute that has neither merit nor justice. If Apple’s case isn’t a very good one (just one that is arguably plausible) they are using up a social good (a court system already clogged) for a social outcome that is at best marginally beneficial to one party (and probably not even that in a meaningful sense).