Apple Disputes Woolworth’s New Logo In Australia

22 Comments

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.

22 Comments

Andrew

I cannot fathom why Apple is going after this. I can distinguish between the two logos, and I would definitely not see the Woolworths logo as being anything like the Apple logo. Yes I understand that they are filing a dispute, if the Woolworths logo was solid, and not a stylised ‘W’, then I think they have a case, as the logo stands now, I don’t think this can go any further than them filing a dispute.

dave

what absolute bulls***. Apple sucks balls for doing this. They should concentrate on providing more value for money in their products, end their monopolistic trading policy with iphones and start acting a little more nice.

Apple Fanboy

I love my Mac but Apple are alienating me with this nonsense.

PC User

I have to agree that logo looks like a pumpkin or maybe slightly even like a under ripe tomato but in no way does it even look close to the Apple Logo. So yea Apple needs to get some glasses for this one or maybe they enjoy being so short sighted. As for ruling to world thats what we have Google for.

mxs

If anything, it looks like raw tomato which needs a bit of sun work …. Seriously, the Apple legal counsel needs optometrist at best.

non Apple User

People, that green thing IS NOT AN APPLE. It looks like a pumpkin ok! Apple needs to wake up and smell the coffee. They can’t control the world. Deal with it!

rwahrens

Yes, those couple of folks are correct.

As for the similarity, that is only truly important in an actual court case where a company is defending its trademark against confusion.

In this situation, Apple is, as explained by Joe and Brett above, simply documenting their defense of their trademark. The Woolworth logo is probably not similar enough to have most people confuse it with Apples. But to someone that has had it merely described to them, there exists the possibility of confusion. That is enough for Apple to enter their objections to the trademark application Woolworth’s has made, which objection is merely to Woolworth’s use of the trademark in the consumer electronics market, in which Apple would compete with Woolworth’s. Apple is not disputing their use of it in markets where the two companies do NOT compete.

If Apple’s objections are not enough for the application for the consumer electronics market to be rejected, Apple will not take further action. Simply filing a dispute is enough to prove, in a case of later court action, that they took action to defend their trademark.

This isn’t as big a deal as some are making it out to be.

Eideard

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.

Chris

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.

Addison

“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….

max31

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.

Joe

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.

You've GOT to be kidding me

“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

You've GOT to be kidding me

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

Brett

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.

rwahrens

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

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

John

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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