A new report says Apple has filed some 215 trademark oppositions against logos it deems too close to its own distinctive logo, a tactic that an expert says amounts to bullying.
Ms. St. John is one of dozens of entrepreneurs, small businesses and corporations that Apple has sued in recent years for applying brand names containing the word “apple” or stemmed fruit logos. Between 2019 and last year, Apple, the world’s most valuable public company, worth $2.6 trillion, filed 215 trademark oppositions to defend its logo, name or the titles of its products, according to the Tech Transparency Project, a nonprofit watchdog. That’s more than the estimated 136 trademark oppositions that Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google collectively filed during the same period, the group said.
Ms St. John is the central figure in one such anecdote, where Apple filed a trademark opposition with the US Patent and Trademark Office, over its neon green and pink logo for a sex coaching blog and life depicting an apple that had been cut open to resemble female genitalia.
The report says St. John was “discomfited” but didn’t have the money to take on Apple legally. The company claimed its logo was “likely to tarnish Apple’s reputation, which Apple has cultivated in part by working hard not to associate itself with overtly sexual or pornographic material.”
The report goes on to say that Apple has “frequently targeted entities that have nothing to do with technology or are infinitesimal in size,” with trademark objections extending even to other fruits such as oranges. and pears.
An Apple spokesperson said the company is required by law to defend its trademarks and said “when we see applications that are too broad or potentially confusing for our customers, our first step is always to extend the hand and try to resolve them quickly and amicably,” adding that legal action was “always” a last resort.
The report says many of those who received challenges thought they were frivolous or just plain wrong, but couldn’t fight the filings because they couldn’t afford the legal battle. At least one law professor is unimpressed with Apple’s tactics:
The scale of the company’s campaign amounts to “bullying tactics, and they’re not necessary for Apple to protect the public from confusion,” said Christine Farley, a professor at Washington College of Law at the University of Washington. ‘American University.
Other notable objections from the report include a filing against singer Stephanie Carlisi over her stage name. Frankie Pineapple, The Appleton Area School District in Wisconsin and a New York curry blog titled Big apple curry. Carlisi, at least, was able to defend his trademark filing to the tune of around $10,000. The other two have just withdrawn their candidacy.
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