from billable hours department
When it comes to silly trademark disputes, Apple has been discussed many, many times. The mega-corporation is a jealous defender of all its intellectual property, but most of our stories have focused on its disputes with companies that have created logos involving any sort of apple or other fruit. Sometimes it’s not even companies that Apple is fighting with, but entire foreign political parties. The idea here is that when it comes to logos or trade dress, Apple seems to think it owns all the apples.
But what about the word itself? Well, the business can also get absurd at this level. For example, Apple recently opposed the trademark registration for the independent opus of a Ukrainian filmmakerentitled Apple-Man.
Apple filed an opposition in December with the US Patent and Trademark Office seeking to block Ukrainian director Vasyl Moskalenko’s trademark application for his independent project. The World’s Most Valuable Company says viewers will mistakenly believe Apple-Man is associated with Apple and the movie will dilute its brand.
“The Apple marks are so famous and instantly recognizable that similarities in plaintiff’s mark will overshadow any minor differences and lead the ordinary consumer to believe that plaintiff is related, affiliated, or endorsed by Apple,” the filing, which is embedded below, reads. of. “Consumers are likely to assume, incorrectly, that the applicant’s mark is a further extension of the well-known Apple mark.”
Alright, let’s state the following upfront: Apple’s trademark on its name is undoubtedly famous. This gives the company a lot more protection on that mark than your usual trademark. One of the main differences, however, is that Apple can apply the trademark not only for customer confusion, but also for things like tarnishing, if someone has used the term in a way that could be considered as derogatory to Apple.
In the quote above, Apple takes the traditional route of confusion in its opposition. But that’s incredibly silly. It’s an independent film that no one will associate with Apple. It’s also, because it’s a movie, entitled to First Amendment protections that are almost certain to outweigh any trademark concerns, especially ones as flimsy as Apple’s. .
Elsewhere, Apple argues for dilution.
Apple also argues that the trademark, if granted, “will result in a dilution of the distinctiveness of famous Apple marks by eroding consumers’ exclusive identification of Apple marks with Apple.”
But consumers do not do have an exclusive Apple Marks identification with Apple. It should be obvious on his face. Many companies, for example, use the term “Apple” in branding for… you know… apples. There have also been other films, specifically, that use the word “apple” in their names. there is one called Apple. And another called Apples. So what do Apple’s lawyers see as the difference between the use of these films and Apple-Man? ¯_(?)_/¯
Jeremy Eche of JPG Legal, who represents Moskalenko, argues that “apple” is not an exclusive word and that viewers will not be misled by the film.
“It’s ridiculous,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “They really want to own the word ‘Apple’ in every industry.”
Eche argues that Apple is a “brand bully” exploiting the system.
There is little doubt about it. So why does Apple even care about any of this? Well, outside counsel is involved, so the term “billable hours” immediately springs to mind. But Apple’s history of trademark bullying doesn’t preclude random and capricious enforcement of its trademarks either. The lawyers saw this one, so they went looking for it.
And before anyone wants to jump in in the comments and point out that Apple creates and delivers movie content through AppleTV and iTunes…don’t. That doesn’t suddenly mean the company can stop a filmmaker from making a movie that uses the word in its title, or trademarking that movie’s name.
Filed Under: apple man, trademark, vasyl moskalenko