Apple may currently be waging various legal battles on multiple fronts, including a high-profile dispute with Epic Games, but it isn’t too busy to wage a trademark war over an upcoming low-budget action movie called 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. World’s Most Valuable Company Says Viewers Won’t Believe Apple-Man is associated with Apple and that the film 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.”
Apple-Man is a satire on a superhero who can levitate apples. It was crowdfunded via Kickstarter and raised approximately $120,000.
The film was in post-production when Apple filed a trademark opposition against Moskalenko. Citing a violation of the Lanham Act, Apple said the mark is intended to mislead consumers.
“Consumers encountering the plaintiff’s mark are likely to associate the mark with Apple because it is very similar to the APPLE mark and overall creates a similar commercial impression,” writes Joseph Petersen, partner at Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP representing Apple. “Indeed, the plaintiff’s mark incorporates Apple’s well-known APPLE mark in its entirety, simply by adding the generic term ‘man’.”
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.”
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 said 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.
“Because a company like Apple has hundreds of millions of dollars to spend, they bring these cases against small companies like mine all the time, no matter how serious their case is,” Eche says. “Just because they can spend $300,000 to go all the way and my client can’t justify that cost, Apple knows they’re probably going to win here.”
Prepear, a recipe and meal-planning app, agreed last year to change its pear logo to settle a trademark dispute with Apple. Apple opposed Prepear’s offer to obtain a pear mark, arguing that it looked too much like its own apple silhouette logo.
Jesse Saivar, an intellectual property lawyer at Greenberg Glusker who is not involved in the case, says THR “No one can have an exclusive right to a descriptive word.”
“If I’m trying to give a title to something that refers to apples, how can I do that if I can’t use the word ‘apple’ in the title?” he put. But, continues Saivar, “it gets complicated because [Moskalenko] wants to get involved in content and Apple is involved in the content world.
Moskalenko in January listed in a USPTO filing that he wants to settle the case because he does not have the resources to argue the case. He is still considering his options after settlement talks stalled, according to Eche.
Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.