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Apple pursues Chinese food company over logo likenesses

updated 01:30 pm EDT, Tue September 6, 2011

May be defensive move related to trademark change

Apple is accusing a Chinese business of infringing its logo trademarks, reports say. The company in question, Sichuan Fangguo Food, similarly uses a red apple image as its logo, although the Fangguo image is more abstract. It contains hard lines for example, and a quarter of the apple has been cut out. A pattern on the inside of the logo may have greater resemblance to LG's logo design.

Fangguo says that on July 19th it received a Beijing Zhucheng Law letter written on behalf of Apple, giving until August 6th to respond to complaints. The threat came two days before Fangguo's logo registration application was to be extended; the company also recently filed to extend its trademark into new categories, such as notebooks and electronic games. The latter appears to have been Apple's concern, since a lawyer from Beijing Zhucheng Law claims that Apple wants Fangguo's trademark rendered void in technology categories, as well the leaf removed from the allegedly offending image.

Fangguo CEO Zhao Yi says that the company doesn't have specific plans to enter computers, and only wants to broaden trademarks in case an opportunity arises. He adds that had "never even heard of Apple" when founding his business, and that the two logos are different. "There's a leaf so you can tell it's an apple, but it also contains two Chinese characters," says Zhao. "The orientation is also different, and ours is a totally different shape."

The executive rejects the idea of changing Fangguo's logo. "I'm Fangguo, it's a fruit, if the leaf is removed, it'll just look like a bomb," he argues. Zhao mentions that the lawfirm hasn't contacted him since its initial letter, although he has nevertheless produced a thousand questionnaires for attendees of today's Fourth China Trademark Convention, asking for opinions on Apple's claims and whether or not the two logos are genuinely similar.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. Flying Meat

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    I assume this

    is a general "attempt" to protect the Apple logo even though it does not resemble the Apple logo (to me, anyway). The fact they may be using the logo on electronics does seem problematic though, if anyone might be confused by similarity (which I don't see...)

    It would really be pretty simple to remedy by acknowledging the electronics issue, and declaring a different logo will be used for electronics products from that company.
    As far as removing the leaf from the existing logo, I personally don't think there is really a reason to do so.

  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +3

    LG + Apple

    Maybe LG, Infiniti and others should join Apple in the lawsuit.

  1. vintagegeek

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +6

    What??

    There is absolutely no mistaking one for the other. Not even close. Apple pushing it as usual.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Not even close

    They don't even resemble each other. Come on, Apple. You really lose your sense of judgement unless the lawyer is looking for something to do.

  1. dpicardi

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Well...

    I don't know about you but I immediately thought of Apple Inc. when I saw the chinese logo.

    ::rolls eyes::

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +4

    Trademark infringement...

    ...doesn't necessarily mean that one company's logo looks too similar to another's logo. You can infringe by just using elements or overall ideas as well.

    If I operate an electronics shop and I trademark my logo, which is a green circuit board with a chunk taken out of the top-right corner, and another company creates a logo which is a red circuit board with a chunk taken out of the bottom-left corner, while those logos may not be mistakable for each other visually, they're too close in composition, and I have a trademark infringement case against the other company.

    Similarly, you can't take just the blue oval background from the Ford logo, change the font, and put a different word in there and say, "There, it's different and unique!"

    While I agree that anyone who is familiar with Apple would mistake anyone else's logo for Apple's, this one, while quite a stretch, may have some ground. Both logos are fruit. Both logos have a "bite" or "chunk" out of them. Both logos feature a stylized leaf at the top. If you told someone unfamiliar with both companies that Apple is the one with the logo of the fruit with a chunk taken out, you may see that that person may choose Fangguo's logo if they saw that one first.

    I dunno. Like I said, it's a stretch, but then again, none of us are lawyers specializing in intellectual property law, so we're just grasping at straws here...

  1. kimgh

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +9

    Apple probably has to do this

    Need I remind everyone that, legally, Apple probably has to "vigorously defend" its trademark or risk losing rights to it. This is Apple doing that. It's up to a court to decide that the trademark is not an infringement, and then Apple is in the clear for having done its duty to defend the mark.

    Not to defend this. It's pretty stupid. But that's the way it is, and Apple didn't write these rules.

  1. J2-Droid

    Joined: Dec 1969

    -4

    What happened Apple?

    You used to be a respectable company bent on making the perfect computing experience. Now you are just a corporate thug. It would have been nice for Apple to have been around during WWII so they could have collaborated with the n*** party rather than IBM.

    You have already taken the Apple Corp. logo from us Beatles fans.

    I'll say it again, I am ashamed to have ever supported Apple and I feel like I have wasted my money for the last 20+ years. Talk about buyers remorse.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +5

    Re: Trademark infringement...

    While I agree that anyone who is familiar with Apple would mistake anyone else's logo for Apple's, this one, while quite a stretch, may have some ground.

    Gee, and when Apple Records complained about Apple Computer's logo, all we heard was how it was just a money grab and a bunch of old people crying.

  1. dpicardi

    Joined: Dec 1969

    +2

    Apple has given this company...

    more worldwide media exposure than they even dreamed possible.

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