November 2017. Apple has opened fire on medical research firm Appletree, accusing it of infringing its trademark rights to the world-famous Apple brand. On 15 September, Apple asked the US Patent and Trademark Office to overturn Appletree’s registration.

Apple won’t have apples

Apple is notorious for not allowing any other apple trademarks on the market, whether it’s simply the word ‘Apple’ or a depiction of the fruit. Chiever looks back at a number of previous apple-related disputes (plus one pear) and summarises a few of them.

Apple Monopoly

Obviously Apple is doing the sensible thing by defending the brand against hijack and misuse. In my view, however, the computer giant is trying to push its monopoly too far. The protection afforded by the universally known Apple trademark is extensive, but of course not every apple belongs to Apple! That said, many companies take to their heels as soon as they’re threatened with action by the large and wealthy Apple, even if its claim is legally questionable.


On the far right of the dispute spectrum you can see the Apple label used on the sleeve of a Beatles’ LP. This situation with this apple was slightly different, however, given that the Beatles’ Apple trademark was older. The two apples weren’t initially at odds, but this changed in the 1990s when the computer giant entered the music market, bringing it into the orbit of the Beatles’ apple. The two litigants eventually settled their differences following a 20-year stand-off. The terms of the agreement aren’t known, but you can be sure a fair amount of money changed hands.

Bas Kist