In Brief: Apple Inc. (the electronics behemoth) settled with PrePear (a food preparation app) over fruit logos.
Here’s What Happened. Most people are familiar with Apple Inc. and its apple logo. Apple Inc. and its products are ubiquitous and pervasive. At any time, a person can be wearing one of their watches, talking on one of their phones and watching a video on one of their tablets.
PrePear is a new app that allows the user to save and organize recipes, create meal plans, shop efficiently for food and prepare healthy foods. PrePear adopted a pear logo, which makes sense considering the pun in the name. When PrePear sought to register its pear logo as a trademark, USPTO’s Examining Attorney didn’t see a likelihood of confusion between the pear logo and any other logo. The Examining Attorney cleared the application for publication.
Then, Apple filed an opposition.
In the notice of opposition, Apple claimed that the PrePear’s pear logo was too close to Apple’s logo. Although a different fruit was involved, Apple argued that the minimalist design of the pear logo with a single leaf was too similar to the apple logo with a single leaf. Apple argued that because the logos were similar, PrePear’s logo was likely to create confusion. Given how famous Apple’s logo is, Apple felt that consumers are going to be believe that Apple is the source of PrePear’s services. Essentially, Apple’s argument is that even though they aren’t direct competitors, the PrePear logo will dilute the effectiveness of the Apple logo.
The owners of PrePear’s parent company, Russell and Natalie Monson, responded to the opposition saying that they are a small company with 5 employees. They then took to social media describing the terrifying experience of a giant company disputing their trademark. They started a petition to save their company that amassed over 25,000 signatures. Apple found itself the subject of a lot of bad press about its trademark actions.
In the end, PrePear agreed to alter its logo somewhat by using a half leaf instead of a full leaf and everyone appears to be happy.
Why You Should Know This. A logo is an important part of a company’s identity. It creates brand awareness in the blink of an eye. Apple is within its rights to protect against dilution. Dilution is when the owner of a famous trademark can forbid others from using the trademark in a way that would lessen its uniqueness. Dilution of famous marks as its limits. When you see Apple’s logo you think, “Electronics”. You don’t think, “Food Preparation”. Apple might have avoided a lot of bad press if it had been a little wiser about choosing its battles. Apple may now realize that it doesn’t own the entire fruit bowl.