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Apple calls on lawyers in logo spat with Canadian school

post #1 of 65
Thread Starter 
Apple is being accused of bullying a Canadian technology school and loyal customer with charges of trademark infringement because its logo bears a familiar fruit.

According to the Victoria News, the Victoria School of Business and Technology received a strongly worded letter from Apple's outside attorneys this month, claiming that the institution's 3-year old logo "reproduces, without authority" the Mac maker's trademark symbol.

The logo, which can be seen below, is shaped like an apple and incorporates the mountain logo of the school's sister company with the letters VSBT in the corner.

Christopher Boag, vice president of VSBT, said he was in "total shock" when he received Apple's threat, arguing that the apple is a "traditional representation of education." He maintains the school came up with the "100 percent original" design through "a flow and a process," and never once has anyone confused it the Apple logo since its inception back in 2005.

In its letter, Apple said it's prepared to forgo a lawsuit should the school comply with its demand and remove the apple portion of its logo. VSBT officials are thus far standing strong, however, taking the matter to the media and accusing the company of using its stature to force the school to surrender.

"It's a matter of them trying to push over the little guy, to some degree," Boag said. "They figure we're going to roll over and play dead, but we want to be more vocal."

Boag added that VSBT is a stalwart supporter of all things Apple, and called on the electronics giant to reconsider its threats. The school reportedly employes dozens of Macs, with more on order, in addition to some iPhones.



For Apple, the move is at least the second this year aimed at protecting its ubiquitous trademark. In April, the company opposed a trademark filing for New York City's GreeNYC campaign because the logo showed a stylized apple with a stalk and a leaf.

If Apple were to proceed with its case against VSBT, it would need to prove the school's logo presented the possibility for confusion in the marketplace rather than simply establish that the marks look similar to each other.

"It's not so much whether it looks like the other guy's mark, as much as it is using it with something identified with the other person," said media lawyer David Sutherland, who noted that both Apple and VSBT are involved in the field of computers.

Update: AppleInsider forum member bandalay dugg up this example (below) of how VSBT is using their apple logo, which puts some of Apple's claims into perspective:


post #2 of 65
It must be a slow month for Apple's legal department.
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post #3 of 65
thats a stretch....chill out Apple.

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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post #4 of 65
Look Apple, their logo sucks, yours doesn't. No reason to get all excited.

I think the publicity surrounding this issue will eventually come back to Apple and they'll lay off.
post #5 of 65
The school's apple logo did not fall far from the Apple Inc. tree.

The logo has similar colours, shape and styling.

My bet is that the school will lose this battle - which Apple is required to fight in order to defended their trademark. If they make exceptions - they can be stripped of the mark.
post #6 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by DimMok View Post

thats a stretch....chill out Apple.

I agree, I see no way this could be mistaken for Apple's trademark despite the obvious similarities, but I think this is a common tactic when it comes to trademarks. I think that if a real trademark infringement case arrises it will show precedence of Apple has been actively defending its trademark.
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post #7 of 65
Apple is after them



This is a little confusing
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.racecar.
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post #8 of 65
Highly ironic, and somewhat hypocritical on Apple's part, considering it was once on the receiving end of a similar claim from Apple Records/Apple Corps Ltd.

Hm.
post #9 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bandalay View Post

Apple is after them



This is a little confusing

ooh, that's a good picture, when they flatten the logo and only show the top part it becomes a LOT more confusing. I just switched sides, the school should definitely change their logo.

If they just modify the leaf, maybe put in two leaves and a stem, that would be sufficient I think.
post #10 of 65
Apple is doing them a favor.

Their logo blows.
post #11 of 65
The logo looks like a student did it. Whether it infringes or not, the designer should really go back and put in a few hours more work on it.
post #12 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchalaZeal View Post

Highly ironic, and somewhat hypocritical on Apple's part, considering it was once on the receiving end of a similar claim from Apple Records.

Hm.

There is a significant difference in the way the Apple Computer, Inc. and Apple Corps logos looked. And Apple wasn't in any music-related business at the time, while this company is education and technology.


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post #13 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post

ooh, that's a good picture, when they flatten the logo and only show the top part it becomes a LOT more confusing.

That top half with the silver/grey is definitely confusing. The Aodbe and MS Office labels, which Apple supports, makes it even ore confusing. That does look an Apple reseller.

Even turning the leaf the other way would be enough for me, but i don't think most people would know the difference.

I, too, and switching my stance as I skimmed over the part where they are focused on technology, not just education.
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post #14 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leithal View Post

Apple is required to fight in order to defended their trademark. If they make exceptions - they can be stripped of the mark.

Absolutely correct. Too bad most people don't understand trademark rules and regulations.

Basically, it is, "If you don't use it, you lose it." Or, "You don't protect it, you can lose it." Or, "You don't attempt to protect it, you could lose it."

Best to side on precaution.
post #15 of 65
The logos are definitely similar when you look at the basic shape of the two

post #16 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bandalay View Post

Apple is after them



This is a little confusing

Now that I have seen it, I would suggest that it probably violates every aspect of trademark infringement.
post #17 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by bandalay View Post

Apple is after them



This is a little confusing

wow.... umm yeah..... Apple actually does have a case here.
I was on the other side of the fence until you posted this pic.
Yikes.
post #18 of 65
If I saw a technology school with a logo like that I would wonder if they were Mac centric. Apple shouldn't attack every use of apple as logo obviously, but in this case its a bit on the nose.
post #19 of 65
Maybe if they just change the leaves? Ok, the logo fundamentally sucks, but this might not be so bad, and maybe apple will lay off.

post #20 of 65
This school is playing dead because they know that people notice their stores and programs just of that similarity. In school full of Macs and iPhones and other Apple products, its hard to believe that the designers never though that it looks like Apple logo.

Simple solution, instead of Apple, they should just make a circle. That way mountain can still be exactly the same. But the stem has to go. Really.
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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #21 of 65
Yeah, at the first glance the logo looks different but after looking at the pictures, it is indeed look very similar to apple logo. I agree with what you guys say, change the logo, it looks ugly anyway, what does and apple and a mountain have to do together? They should use Apple trees instead
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post #22 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

wow.... umm yeah..... Apple actually does have a case here.
I was on the other side of the fence until you posted this pic.
Yikes.

I concur....after seeing this and its actual business....OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!!

One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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One thought he was invincible... the other thought he could fly.

They were both wrong.

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post #23 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeaPeaJay View Post

Look Apple, their logo sucks, yours doesn't. No reason to get all excited.

I think the publicity surrounding this issue will eventually come back to Apple and they'll lay off.

They are legally obligated to defend their logo or they could lose it's exclusivity. It's not a big deal.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #24 of 65
On the other hand, they should just do what apple is asking and remove the apple, their logo would look much better if they did.

post #25 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchalaZeal View Post

Highly ironic, and somewhat hypocritical on Apple's part, considering it was once on the receiving end of a similar claim from Apple Records/Apple Corps Ltd.

Hm.

Not really, considering Apple Corps complaint had nothing to do with the logo but more specifically the name and the breach of a contract.
post #26 of 65
Since ugly is what they're going for, they should just add one or two more leaves to that thing.
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post #27 of 65
Interesting lesson in how easy it is to judge a case without knowing the facts - or in this case, the visuals. I would also have told Apple to lay off but when you see the other Apple in context the claim makes a lot more sense.

I am not sure anybody would confuse the two logos / companies, but there is definitely an Apple (inc) association thing happening when you see the photo of the store / office / whatever. The Adobe logo reinforces that impression. I am still not sure this is really a worthwhile case to waste time on but I guess it has to do with precedent. Now that they have been made aware they can't ignore.
post #28 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leithal View Post

The school's apple logo did not fall far from the Apple Inc. tree.

The logo has similar colours, shape and styling.

My bet is that the school will lose this battle - which Apple is required to fight in order to defended their trademark. If they make exceptions - they can be stripped of the mark.

Both apple and this guy I quoted are ridiculous. Come on first of all the school doesn't threaten your company or provide any competition at all. Second the apple is completely different. The colors are different. The shape is different. The leaf is tilted different. The apple doesn't even have a bite out of it. We get it apple wants to protect their logo which is fine but The Curpentino based company does not own the apple. The apple is a fruit you cannot control all variations of an apple that is absurd. Apple you should be worrying about fixing your crappy products and all of their problems not worrying about the fact that the fruit came before the company.
post #29 of 65
Does anyone else see the similarity to the Adobe logo as well???

Hmmmmmmmm....... I agree, the apple logo conflict doesn't really get me, but when you see them both side by side, along with the Adobe logos on the windows.... hahaha....
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post #30 of 65
The logo itself, which was shown earlier, doesn't look that close.

But, as presented on the school, it does.

There are other problems as well with this.

The most important one is that with the Adobe logo there, and the schools business, along with the fact that it uses Macs, possibly exclusively, could be hinting (though not necessarily intentionally) that this school is either Apple supported, backed, or approved.

I can see, with that logo as large as it is, that people could come to that conclusion.

Since the overall shape is so close, on the building, many people won't notice that the "bite" isn't there.

Yes, this is too close. Apple must defend their logo.

Otherwise, others will choose logos that are even closer. If each is allowed to exist, at some point, Apple's own logo will lose its trademark status.
post #31 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel0418 View Post

Both apple and this guy I quoted are ridiculous. Come on first of all the school doesn't threaten your company or provide any competition at all. Second the apple is completely different. The colors are different. The shape is different. The leaf is tilted different. The apple doesn't even have a bite out of it. We get it apple wants to protect their logo which is fine but The Curpentino based company does not own the apple. The apple is a fruit you cannot control all variations of an apple that is absurd. Apple you should be worrying about fixing your crappy products and all of their problems not worrying about the fact that the fruit came before the company.

You're wrong. You seem to have some emotional reason for having a tirade.
post #32 of 65
After seeing that picture. It will be a slam dunk for Apple. They are clearly infringing on a brand that Apple created, nurtured, and matured over 30 years.
post #33 of 65
Looks pretty blatant to me.

Similar shape, one leaf on the same side, same color in the example, similar shading.

If it were a cooking school they could probably pull it off, but when they are a tech school and they have their logo next to an adobe logo, at a casual glance I can't imagine anyone not thinking of Apple computers.

If they had any taste they'd want to change it anyway, it's a cluttered mess. They don't really need an apple logo anyway, but if you do a quick search online you'll find a million school logos that include an apple that nobody would ever confuse with Apple, there are tons of design options and they happened to make choices that were the closest to THE most famous Apple logo in the world.
post #34 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by KindredMac View Post

wow.... umm yeah..... Apple actually does have a case here.
I was on the other side of the fence until you posted this pic.
Yikes.

Whether or not the shape and style of the logo is an infringement can be more subjective since an apple's shape is an apple's shape. But the photo sure looks as if the logo is being used for commercial purposes since it is connected visually with Adobe and the word Authorized is included. Yes, it does say training center, but Adobe has training seminars. This is too close to commercial use from what I can see if this is an example of the logos use. I don't know if this school is a private therefore a private school or a non-profit. That may or may not make a difference from the commercial aspect legally. I don't know.

Maybe, the school could rethink the way it is using their logo and not connect it with other commercial logos ( Adobe ) and just use it for their school with their formal title of "Victoria School of Business and Technology". This would mean that training center could be replaced with creativity classes using... Then use the Apple logo if allowed with the Adobe logo at the same time with their school promotions of literature or material displays in or on the outside of buildings.

I hope all of this is worked out without the courtroom and they just sit down and talk instead of automatically using lawyers.
post #35 of 65
Yep. Seeing it in context definitely makes it look like infringement. They should just remove the apple part and leave the rest and they'll be fine.

The school shouldn't get its knickers in a twist about it either. It has nothing to do with harrassing a school and Apple client. It's only about Apple defending its mark.
post #36 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by dualie View Post

Yep. Seeing it in context definitely makes it look like infringement. They should just remove the apple part and leave the rest and they'll be fine.

The school shouldn't get its knickers in a twist about it either. It has nothing to do with harrassing a school and Apple client. It's only about Apple defending its mark.

I agree: it's all about the context. If this were a farming business or JUST a school (teacher's apple thing), then it's a stretch. But placing it in the surroundings of a computer business/school brings APPLE to most people's mind almost immediately...which is what a trademark is specifically designed to do.
post #37 of 65
If this were a fruit company, it might not be so bad. But why is a technology/ computer training company using an apple in its logo, if it's not trying to tie itself to Apple Inc.? Please, no more of the "here's an innocent little company that big bad Apple is trying to flatten" statements.

Their explanation is pretty lame - that the apple is a symbol of education. Kind of a stretch, although in the Garden of Eden the apple was the symbol of knowledge. Maybe their logo should have a snake in it.
post #38 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchalaZeal View Post

Highly ironic, and somewhat hypocritical on Apple's part, considering it was once on the receiving end of a similar claim from Apple Records/Apple Corps Ltd. Hm.

You know, I was of the exact same opinion until I came back to post later in the day and have now seen the photo of how their logo is being used.

The VSBT logo, by itself and in colour, isn't overly similar to the Apple logo. However, VSBT's use of their logo in the window display is very easily confused with the Apple Computer logo.

First problem is VSBT drops their colour logo in favour of an all-white version. This looks remarkably like the stickers bundled in all Apple Computer products. Second, superimpose the logos of Microsoft Office and "Authorized Adobe Training Centre" across the main portion of the VSBT logo and it virtually obscures all that made their logo different from Apple's in the first place (save for the bump at the top of the Apple).

They are clearly trying to cause a blurring of the line between the two companies' logos and are now trying to be cute about it by whipping up an online David-and-Goliath scenario.

VSBT should change their Window display, agree not to engage in similar wink-wink, nudge-nudge marketing in the future and Apple should call off its attack-Lawyers. This is a bad news story for all concerned and their respective PR people should be telling management to hurry up and make this go away quietly...without ugly litigation. Apple doesn't do itself any good by suing a training institute and it doesn't help the school at all either.
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post #39 of 65
Quote:
Originally Posted by elroth View Post

Their explanation is pretty lame - that the apple is a symbol of education. Kind of a stretch, although in the Garden of Eden the apple was the symbol of knowledge.

It's not necessarily a stretch, and I've never thought of or heard of a possible Eden reference. I think it may be cultural, supposedly students gave an apple to their teacher on the first day of school. Someone trying to impress a teacher was called an apple polisher. But if it happened, it was from a time long gone now.

Quote:
Maybe their logo should have a snake in it.

It wouldn't be make a change, they already do have a zig-zag-ish shape there.
post #40 of 65
The blue and green one, by itself, bears no resemblance to Apple Inc.

The whited-out one, showing only the top half, with Adobe and Microsoft logos slapped on, sure does. \
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