The Fruit Union Suisse fears it will have to change its logo because Apple is trying to gain intellectual property rights over the image of apples. This is reported by WIRED.
This union is already 111 years old. For most of its history, its symbol was a red apple with a white cross.
“We have a hard time understanding this, because it’s not like they’re trying to protect their bitten apple,” Fruit Union Suisse director Jimmy Mariéthoz says, referring to the company’s iconic logo. “Their objective here is really to own the rights to an actual apple, which, for us, is something that is really almost universal … that should be free for everyone to use.”
He said the union was concerned about the lack of clarity about what uses of the apple shape Apple would seek to protect. He also points to the company’s aggressive pursuit of things it perceives as infringing on its trademarks.
“We’re concerned that any visual representation of an apple—so anything that’s audiovisual or linked to new technologies or to media—could be potentially impacted. That would be a very, very big restriction for us,” he said. “Theoretically, we could be entering slippery territory everytime we advertise with an apple.”
As you know, Apple is only asking for the rights to a black and white image of an apple. However, according to Cyrille Rigamonti, who teaches intellectual property law at the University of Bern, this could give it the broadest form protection possible, allowing the company to create images in a wide range of colors.
Texas A&M University School of Law professor and University of Geneva fellow Irene Calboli explained that in Switzerland, anyone who can prove a prior history of use of a disputed mark has protection in a potential trademark dispute. This means that it may be difficult for Apple to protect its trademark against entities that have been using the apple symbol for decades. But big companies can often intimidate small businesses into compliance.