iCloud Communications drops trademark lawsuit; Apple in dispute over Chinese logo

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
iCloud Communications has changed its name and filed for dismissal of its trademark lawsuit against Apple over its forthcoming iCloud service. Also, Apple is in the midst of a dispute against a Chinese foodstuffs company over their logos.



iCloud trademark



The Arizona company formerly known as iCloud Communications had sued Apple in June shortly after it unveiled its own iCloud service at the Worldwide Developers Conferences. The suit had alleged that Apple has "a long and well known history of knowingly and willfully treading on the trademark rights of others."



Local paper Phoenix New Times reports that the motion for voluntary dismissal with prejudice, which would prevent the company from refiling the suit, was filed on Sept. 1. The firm appears to have changed its name to Clear Digital Communications and PhoenixSoft. Its former domain geticloud.com has been taken down.



A reporter for the paper contacted the company, with the man who answered the phone admitting that he's not sure what the company is called. When reminded that he had answered the phone by saying "iCloud Communications," he said it was a "bad habit."



Apple first filed for the iCloud trademark in Jamaica last December, then in Europe in June just days before announcing the service.



The free iCloud service is on track to arrive this fall alongside iOS 5. It will offer cloud-based backups and syncing of media, documents and other data.







Apple logo



Sichuan, China-based Fangguo Food Co. has received a letter from the Zhucheng law firm, which represents Apple, accusing it of trademark infringement, as noted by Go Chengdoo. The company's logo depicts a circular apple, replete with leaf and stem, with the bottom left quarter missing.



Fangguo logo, left; Apple logo, right.



"There's a leaf so you can tell it's an apple, but it also contains two Chinese characters...The orientation is also different, and ours is a totally different shape," said Fangguo CEO Zhao Yi, adding that when he started the company, he "had never even heard of Apple."



Apple's letter lodges two complaints against Fangguo. First, the resemblance between the two companies' logos. Second, Fangguo has registered its logo under 16 product categories, including categories such as "notebook computers" and "electronic-game software" that would overlap with Apple's trademark registration.



Zhao claims that he registered the logo under the broad range of categories just in case he ever met someone interested in manufacturing Fangguo computers.



Attorney Li Gousheng, who works for Zhucheng in Beijing, noted that Apple closely monitors new logo trademark applications in China. He said that the issue will be easily resolved if Fangguo removes "conflicting elements," such as the apple leaf in its logo, and withdraws its trademark registration for product categories that conflict with Apple.



But Zhao insists that the leaf is essential to the logo. "I'm Fangguo, it's a fruit, if the leaf is removed, it'll just look like a bomb," he said, adding that "the law firm who sent the letter hasn't contacted me since they sent it."



According to him, the logo was created by a design company in the 1980s before being transferred to him in 1997.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 48
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    1) Looks like Apple paid them to quietly go away. Since it appears they were using the name they did have a case, but since they didn't defend the trademark against the previous owners for whom Apple bought it from there case would have been severely hindered, IMO. I'd say it was a pretty low amount.



    2) I don't think Apple has a strong case against this Chinese logo.
  • Reply 2 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    1) Looks like Apple paid them to quietly go away. Since it appears they were using the name they did have a case, but since they didn't defend the trademark against the previous owners for whom Apple bought it from there case would have been severely hindered, IMO. I'd say it was a pretty low amount.



    2) I don't think Apple has a strong case against this Chinese logo.



    Agree with both assessments.
  • Reply 3 of 48
    Unlike Star Jones, I'm not a lawyer, but Apple needs to leave the logo thing alone. I don't know the details, but did the Apple record label sue Apple Computer (Inc.) over their logo? If they didn't then why should Apple, Inc. sue these folks? Even if they did, leave it alone still. I'm sure if you did research there is a long history of various companies using some type of abstract apple shape as their logo. Leave it alone and move on, Apple. Plus, this company was doing business in China long before Apple, so they should have first come rights.
  • Reply 4 of 48
    Move the leaf to the other side, don't register the trademark in classifications dealing with consumer electronics and call it a day.
  • Reply 5 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mesomorphicman View Post


    Unlike Star Jones, I'm not a lawyer, but Apple needs to leave the logo thing alone. I don't know the details, but did the Apple record label sue Apple Computer (Inc.) over their logo? If they didn't then why should Apple, Inc. sue these folks? Even if they did, leave it alone still. I'm sure if you did research there is a long history of various companies using some type of abstract apple shape as their logo. Leave it alone and move on, Apple. Plus, this company was doing business in China long before Apple, so they should have first come rights.



    I agree with you. The logo looks nothing like Apple. I don't see how anyone would confuse that logo with Apple!
  • Reply 6 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mesomorphicman View Post


    Unlike Star Jones, I'm not a lawyer, but Apple needs to leave the logo thing alone. I don't know the details, but did the Apple record label sue Apple Computer (Inc.) over their logo?



    Apple Corps certainly did sue Apple Computers over the trademark.



    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_C...Apple_Computer
  • Reply 7 of 48
    djsherlydjsherly Posts: 1,016member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by leesmith View Post


    Move the leaf to the other side, don't register the trademark in classifications dealing with consumer electronics and call it a day.



    Or how about accept the likeliness of confusion is nil and Apple just goes away.
  • Reply 8 of 48
    hirohiro Posts: 2,663member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mesomorphicman View Post


    Unlike Star Jones, I'm not a lawyer, but Apple needs to leave the logo thing alone. I don't know the details, but did the Apple record label sue Apple Computer (Inc.) over their logo? If they didn't then why should Apple, Inc. sue these folks? Even if they did, leave it alone still. I'm sure if you did research there is a long history of various companies using some type of abstract apple shape as their logo. Leave it alone and move on, Apple. Plus, this company was doing business in China long before Apple, so they should have first come rights.





    Apple Records did sue Apple Computer, got a fancy settlement and kept Apple Inc out of anything related to music for nearly 20 years.



    That said the Fangguo logo looks like LG could team up with Apple to take joint swipe at them too. I don't think a moron in a hurry would make the mistake though so Apple will probably lose this one.
  • Reply 9 of 48
    okay apple your being a baby now come on
  • Reply 10 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by djsherly View Post


    Or how about accept the likeliness of confusion is nil and Apple just goes away.



    But it's not nil (to an average or less than average consumer). They really don't have to move the leaf, just don't try to register the trademark in Apple's line of business.
  • Reply 11 of 48
    Quote:

    "I'm Fangguo, it's a fruit, if the leaf is removed, it'll just look like a bomb,"



    look just like a bomb...
  • Reply 12 of 48
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by zeromeus View Post


    I agree with you. The logo looks nothing like Apple. I don't see how anyone would confuse that logo with Apple!



    From what I understand of trademarks they are unlike other "property" in that your history of defending a trademark is important to a case. IOW, you have to show that you've been using it and not singling out any one user ? perhaps one with deep pockets ? when you decide to sue. For this reason I think this Chinese lawsuit is just a formality which will end up with no money changing hands, no trademarks being altered, with only a minimal amount of legal expenses needed, but it will show that Apple did defense their logo if a real threat does appear at a later time.
  • Reply 13 of 48
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Perhaps, on the first, most definitely on the second. If Apple paid something, however, it was very little. iCloud Communications never registered the trademark iCloud. That severely limits its rights. It can only sue based on common law trademark rights, as opposed to federal trademark rights. Common law trademarks are much more limited then federal rights. iCloud Communications mainly does business in Arizona, and consequently its trademark rights would probably be limited to that area. Apple registered iCloud, and bought existing rights from another company that did register the rights. For all practical purposes, Apple's rights would be secured in the other 49 states and most of the world.



    By settling, Apple likely saved money as it would have cost more to fight. Further, iCloud Communications would have been in a pickle while fighting with Apple as it couldn't expand its business outside of where it currently does business using the same name since Apple's federal trademark covered all areas where iCloud Communications didn't do business.







    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    1) Looks like Apple paid them to quietly go away. Since it appears they were using the name they did have a case, but since they didn't defend the trademark against the previous owners for whom Apple bought it from there case would have been severely hindered, IMO. I'd say it was a pretty low amount.



    2) I don't think Apple has a strong case against this Chinese logo.



  • Reply 14 of 48
    I think this logo looks most like LG's logo than apples:



    http://www.lg.com/us/img/logo-lg.png
  • Reply 15 of 48
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    Apple first filed for the iCloud trademark in Jamaica last December.....



    Ya mon me be Apple. U 'fraid a me?
  • Reply 16 of 48
    1) This looks like the LG logo.



    2) If they were just a food company, I'd say that Apple has no case. It's a food company, and they're using a fruit to represent themselves - duh! However, they also registered the trademark under areas like "notebook computers"? Come on. THAT'S a legitimate complaint - how many apple-themed computer companies can Apple Inc. allow?



    3) Yes, it'd look like a bomb if the leaf were removed
  • Reply 17 of 48
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hiro View Post


    That said the Fangguo logo looks like LG could team up with Apple to take joint swipe at them too. I don't think a moron in a hurry would make the mistake though so Apple will probably lose this one.



    My thoughts exactly. Kind of reminds me of the "Mr. Sparkle" Simpsons episode as to how the logo was created: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUNHwP2q7bA
  • Reply 18 of 48
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    That is not quite true. There were several lawsuits involved. For the first lawsuit, Apple Computer paid Apple Records $80, 000. Apple agreed to stay out of the music business. Years later, Apple added MIDI and a DOC sound chip to its Apple II Computers. Apple Records sued, and forced Apple Computers to remove the sound chip and not offer similar products. A couple of years later, Apple Computer added a sampled system sound named Chimes to the Mac OS. The sound was later renamed to sosumi (phonetically as ?so sue me?). Apple Records got about 20 Million from Apple Computer. In exchange, Apple Computer essential was allowed to develop computers that played or delivered content such as music, but agreed that it would not package, sell or distribute physical music materials (e.g. tapes or CDs). Most recently Apple Records sued Apple Computer over iTunes saying Apple Computer violated the prior agreement. Apple Records lost at trial, and a settlement was reached soon after that gave Apple Computer and Apple Records joint ownership of the trademarks to do whatever each pleased.



    Personally, I think Apple Computer had crappy lawyers in the beginning. It should have never settled the first time around, which caused problems the other times. Apple Records' case was weak.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Hiro View Post


    Apple Records did sue Apple Computer, got a fancy settlement and kept Apple Inc out of anything related to music for nearly 20 years.



  • Reply 19 of 48
    That logo looks more like the LG logo to me than Apple's. Maybe LG should sue.
  • Reply 20 of 48
    I agree it does look like the LG logo (my first thought upon seeing it), although it does look a lot like Apple's logo.
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