22 Comments

Summary:

Here in Australia, the supermarket chain Woolworths has been freshening its look (and rebranding in some states from Safeway to Woolworths) over the last year, which includes a nice modern looking new logo. This new logo, which Woolworth have stated is a stylised “W” was submitted […]

WoolworthsApple

Here in Australia, the supermarket chain Woolworths has been freshening its look (and rebranding in some states from Safeway to Woolworths) over the last year, which includes a nice modern looking new logo. This new logo, which Woolworth have stated is a stylised “W” was submitted to IP Australia (the Australian Agency who looks after trademarks) for trademark registration in August last year. Apple has now objected to this trademark application.

On the face of it, this seems silly, but from a distance the two logo shapes are not dissimilar and Apple is not being ridiculous in this situation. While Woolworths has traditionally been a grocery supermarket chain (the largest in Australia and New Zealand), it is constantly expanding its range and increasingly selling and advertising electronic goods.

While it’s unlikely to start selling fully fledged computers in the near future, it already sells mobile phone packages & cards. Its not hard to imagine them selling small digital music players or smartphones. This is likely to bring them into a similar product space as Apple and thus it brings the situation into trademark territory. The sticking point is that Woolworth’s trademark application attempts to broadly mark any product Woolworth wants to sell in the future — which could be anything.

Its important to note that at this stage Apple has not taken any legal action. It is simply disputing Woolworth’s trademark application, which is a normal and necessary procedure within Australia’s trademark laws. Unlike copyright laws, to keep a trademark a company must make all efforts to pro-actively protect it. If a company does not protect its trademark and a likeness is then used by someone else for a long enough time, it is likely to lose it completely. Even if IP Australia ignores Apple’s dispute, Apple is now on record for protecting its trademark.

  1. Sorry, but Woolworths do sell computers through DSE, which they own outright.
    They are constantly moving into non Fresh Food areas of business.

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  2. Apple’s legal counsel is on the ball.

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  3. Congratulations on correctly identifying the issue as “trademark” related, and not “copyright”!

    You are the first site to correctly distinguish between the two!!

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  4. You've GOT to be kidding me Monday, October 5, 2009

    “On the face of it, this seems silly, but from a distance the two logo shapes are not dissimilar and Apple is not being ridiculous in this situation. While Woolworths has traditionally been a grocery supermarket chain (the largest in Australia and New Zealand), it is constantly expanding its range and increasingly selling and advertising electronic goods.”

    Gee, why am I not shocked that Apple fanboys are defending even this? The similiarities between Woolworth’s apple and Apple’s apple are extremely faint at the very best. Woolworth’s is a stylized w with a leaf on top that looks faintly like an apple. Apple’s apple is, well, a plain apple with a bite taken out of it. And this is NOT the first time they’ve unfairly sued a company for merely using an apple logo that resembled NOTHING like the apple Apple in their logo. Read http://www.pcworld.com/article/173131/apples_logo_lunacy_5_previous_trademark_tiffs.html

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    1. You've GOT to be kidding me Monday, October 5, 2009

      I’m sorry, I meant to say “resembled NOTHING like the apple Apple has in their logo”.

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    2. The key thing here is Apple is not suing they are just disputing the mark. If Apple did not dispute the mark and then years down the road there is consumer confusion as to the two trademarks then Woolworth can raise the legal defense of estoppel by acquiescence. Apple is just protecting themselves.

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  5. I love the Apple apple, I still have the unused decals/stickers from the old days when their logo had the rainbow stripes, but Apple deserves to lose this case if they pursue it. The Woolworth logo has nothing to do with Apple, how in the world could Apple have believed otherwise?

    Steve Jobs has a good eye for fonts and graphic design, it’s hard to believe this legal course has been pursued with his cooperation. The smartest thing Apple can do is find a graceful way to back out and let Woolworth use the beautiful design they own.

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    1. Apple most likely doesn’t care about this logo, and doesn’t care if they lose this dispute. They aren’t suing Woolworth’s. It’s a trademark dispute, and part of the required process for defending your trademark. If you don’t actively defend it, you lose it, so it’s typical and even expected that a company defend their trademarks in aggressively. But of course this is all spelled out in the blog post which you clearly didn’t read.

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  6. Somebody forgot to close the tag —- DOH!

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  7. [...] Apple Disputes Woolworth’s New Logo In Australia Categories: Daily IT Comments (0) Trackbacks (0) Leave a comment Trackback [...]

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  8. “but from a distance the two logo shapes are not dissimilar and Apple is not being ridiculous in this situation”

    You are kiding, right?

    I know you are not, so my answer is: Oh, my God….

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  9. There is no way anyone could confuse the two. If they do then they’re a cretin who shouldn’t be using a computer anyway.

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  10. Phew! At least there are a couple of folks, here, this morning, who understand trademark law and its requirements.

    If you don’t defend it rigorously, you lose it.

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