Apple calls on lawyers in logo spat with Canadian school

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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:





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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    citycity Posts: 522member
    It must be a slow month for Apple's legal department.
  • Reply 2 of 64
    dimmokdimmok Posts: 359member
    thats a stretch....chill out Apple.
  • Reply 3 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 5 of 64
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 64
    Apple is after them?







    This is a little confusing
  • Reply 7 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 9 of 64
    Apple is doing them a favor.



    Their logo blows.
  • Reply 10 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 64
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.





  • Reply 12 of 64
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 64
    The logos are definitely similar when you look at the basic shape of the two



  • Reply 15 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 64
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 64
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 64
    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.



  • Reply 19 of 64
    ivladivlad Posts: 739member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 64
    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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