Apple is Trying To Trademark Depictions of Actual Apples

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Apple, the technology giant known for its iconic logo featuring a bitten apple, has been involved in a unique trademark dispute related to the fruit itself rather than its computers. Since 2017, Apple has been attempting to secure a trademark for images of apples in Switzerland, and similar applications have been launched in various other countries as well.

In its pursuit of the trademark, Apple specifically submitted an application to the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) for the intellectual property rights to a black-and-white depiction of a Granny Smith apple. In 2022, the IPI partially granted Apple’s request, recognizing that generic imagery of common items, such as an apple, are generally considered to be in the public domain.

However, Apple has recently launched an appeal against the partial approval. Due to the ongoing nature of the case and Apple’s consent requirement, the IPI has not disclosed the exact details of the appeal. Nevertheless, it has been revealed that the appeal involves the use of audiovisual footage.

The potential consequences of Apple’s victory in this legal battle extend beyond the realm of technology. The Fruit Union Suisse, an organization with a 111-year history, currently sports a logo featuring a red apple adorned with a white Swiss cross. Should Apple successfully obtain IP rights for all depictions of apples, not limited to its iconic logo with a bite taken out of it, the Fruit Union Suisse might be compelled to alter its logo.

This dispute raises questions about the extent to which a company can lay claim to the representation of a common object, such as an apple, and the impact it can have on organizations and industries that have incorporated similar imagery into their branding. The outcome of Apple’s appeal will undoubtedly be closely watched by various parties involved in trademark law and intellectual property rights.

“We have a hard time understanding this because it’s not like they’re trying to protect their bitten apple,” Jimmy Mariethoz, director of FUS, said to Wired. “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.”

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