October 2018. Apple’s done it again. In a case brought before the European General Court, the US computer giant defeated Taiwan-based Apo International in a dispute over the Apple trademark. A trademark registration submitted by Apo for a logo depicting half an apple alongside the word ‘apo’ was judged to be too similar to Apple’s own name and logo.
Apo, which supplies projector lamps, submitted an application back in 2012 to register a trademark for identical products to those covered by Apple’s registrations. In 2013, Apple filed an opposition to Apo’s registration with the European Trademark Office EUIPO, based on its own well-known Apple logo and Apple word mark.
EUIPO however rejected Apple’s claim. Although the products were identical, there was no risk of confusion and Apo’s logo could just as easily have been an orange or a letter C, EUIPO concluded.
European General Court’s advanced mathematics: an orange is round, an apple is not
An apple is not an orange
However, the European General Court subsequently ruled on appeal that oranges are round, whereas apples are not. It’s clear that Apo’s trademark application depicts an apple. Add to that the phonetic similarities between the words Apo and Apple and you have a clear trademark infringement. The Court’s ruling consequently overturns the original EUIPO decision from 2016.
This judgement should come as no surprise. Trying to see an orange in an apple is like comparing chalk with cheese. The leaf pointing right, the dent underneath the fruit and the word Apo are all strongly suggestive of Apple, one of the most universally recognised trademarks in the world. What is strange is that it’s taken so long for a court to find in Apple’s favour.