Apple Takes Another Bite: Trademark Protection Today

Posted on October 21, 2009

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The notoriously vigilant Apple Corporation – maker of the iPod and a few other products you might have heard of – has targeted yet another company in its ongoing pursuit of trademark protection. According to both Apple Insider and All Things Digital, Apple is challenging a supermarket chain out of Australia who has recently redesigned a logo bearing too much of resemblance to the company’s own iconic symbol.

According to Zach Spear of the Apple Insider, Woolworths, Down Under’s largest grocery seller, has avoided mentioning apples in relation to its new mark, instead claiming the stylized ‘W’ was “paired with ‘an abstract leaf symbol’ to represent fresh food.”  Unfortunately for the retailer, Apple finds the design too close for comfort.  Perhaps most unsettling to Apple is that Woolworths has applied for a blanket trademark that would also include consumer electronics and technology. While no one would expect Apple Corporation to be associated with a grocery store, could there be a likelihood of confusion to the consumer if Woolworths begins carrying electronic and technology products?

For now, this is a decision in the hands of IP Australia, but the case raises interesting questions about the importance of brand identity and trademark protection. In the case of Apple, the company takes its trademark protection very seriously – even going so far as to engage in a 30 year legal battle with the Beatles’ parent company over the name “Apple.” While that issue has been settled in the last two years, you can bet that Apple will continue to keep a close eye on the ever-changing business landscape for other possible intellectual property infringers.

Elizabeth Ritter, Goodrich Law Firm

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