Blog Post

Has Apple Trademarked Some Adobe Custom Shapes?

In the course of my daily wanderings, I came across this post by Turkish web developer Cagan Senturk. Cagan was working on his first foray into iPhone development when he ran into some difficulty. He describes the process at length, but it’s the third rejection of his app (an iPhone companion to, a Turkish networking site) that is most interesting. Apple called foul on his use of an apparently trademarked image. Below is the screenshot of the offender.


Now, Cagan has clarified that the red circle was indeed placed by Apple, so it would seem that Apple is claiming to own a trademark on the wireframe globe. Commenters on Cagan’s own blog, speculating that he’d placed the circle himself, suggested that maybe the “Connect” logo was the actual culprit, since it so closely resembles the logo Apple uses for their new iTunes Genius service.

In either case, the graphics in question are not taken from any Apple source, hence Cagan’s confusion. In fact, if you’re a regular user of Adobe Photoshop, you may recognize them. Both are¬†included¬†by default as part of Adobe’s Custom Shapes set. In which case, it would mean that if Cagan were in violation of Apple’s trademark, then Adobe would be, as well, and to a far more serious degree, since they include the graphic in their industry leading, very successful photo editing program.

A quick search found out why Apple was arguing the icon’s use in the first place. They use a very similar (though not the same) graphic in the Clock app to represent “World Time.” Notice the differences in the screenshot below. Apple’s top and bottom horizontal lines inside the globe curl up at the ends while the one used in Kagan’s screen does not. Actually, that shouldn’t even matter, because upon closer inspection, both varieties are included in Adobe’s Custom Shapes.


Since his first priority is getting his App in the App Store, Cagan decided to just switch out the icon. But really, Apple should be challenged on things like this, lest we find ourselves unable to use any generic icons for fear of reprisals.

5 Responses to “Has Apple Trademarked Some Adobe Custom Shapes?”


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  2. slebetman

    Are you guys sure that the problem is actually TRADEMARK VIOLATION? It looks to me that Apple is simply complaining that that is an inappropriate icon for “Network”. The traditional icon for “Network” is that of terminals (what looks like monitors) connected by lines. Replace that icon with a more appropriate image and I bet it would be approved. Or if Mr. Senturk insists on that icon then replace the word “Network” with “WWW” or “Web” — the wireframe globe is traditionally acceptable as a representation of the World Wide Web or the Internet. It’s about consistency.

  3. thraxisp

    It’s more likely that Apple / Adobe have some high level licensing agreements that allow them to use each other’s graphics. That’s what big companies do!!!

  4. Xairbusdriver

    Wow! One would think that even if Columbus’ and Magellan’s or even John Cabot’s copyright had expired, that it would now be in the public domain! LOL! I wonder if we should be wary of using circles, squares and such… [rolleyes] Is this just another indication of too many lawyers? :-)