Apple causes legal distress over revamped Woolworths logo

Halfway through last year, the company Woolworths Supermarkets (situated around Australia and New Zealand) announced that it was going to revamp its logo, in addition to making some other changes, altering the entire corporate branding strategy. The company chose an "an abstract leaf symbol" as the new logo, hoping things would be fine... but unfortunately, they weren't, particularly for Apple, Inc.

AppleInsider has reported that the Cupertino-based company Apple, known mostly for the the iPod, the Mac, and the iPhone, believes Woolworths' logo is far too similar to its own, wanting it to be changed. Apple's had a history of legal battles with other companies over logo similarities, though it's expected for a company to want to defend its brand. Woolworths' branding change application apparently asked for "a blanket trademark extending even to electrical goods and technology," with a spokesperson for the company saying, "While we can't rule [computers, musical players, etc.] out, we haven't got any plans at the moment," perhaps triggering the legal actions.

Apple is planning to take the case to IP Australia, which is the federal agency that governs trademarks in the country (where Woolworths is the largest retail company, in addition to in New Zealand); although Apple has yet to publicly comment on the actions, something will no doubt pop up soon. We've included the two logos for you to compare, courtesy of AppleInsider.

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Apple - you and your cult are a pack of pretentious w*nkers!

Did you invent the Apple and it's shape - no!! Only God can claim to do that! IMO God should sue Apple Inc. for using his design in their logo. But then again, even God is not that much of a pretentious w*nker as S. Jobs (wanna-be God to some). IMO God really should sue Apple Inc. and tell them that they must revert to their 1980s rainbow-apple logo (IMO the older logo was actually much cooler! ) because their current logo is too much like God's original design!

This is ridiculous. I have had day-to-day exposure to that logo since February this year and not once have I made any connection. Question is, who is working in Apple's legal department?

Just another example of that egotistical pampas company showing their true colors. What a bunch of snobs, get over yourselves Apple.

Can't wait until Apple gets word of Woolworths selling the new Vegemite flavour, "iSnack" (terrible name, but real) - their lawyers will be all over them then...

they changed it now, there are six options they are asking the public to choose form now...rofl....i think they just did it for publicity.

That is completely ridiculous, they don't look anything alike aside from the color (and since when is the Apple logo green?)

The case should be thrown out and Apple should have to pay for wasting the court's time.

Skyfrog said,
That is completely ridiculous, they don't look anything alike aside from the color (and since when is the Apple logo green?)

The case should be thrown out and Apple should have to pay for wasting the court's time.
It's green because of envy. They didn't think of using "fresh" as a marketing buzz-word.

What nonsense...

Woolworths actually has a decent logo. Apple representing a "fresh food" and the W incorporated into it, being the apple. Does not resemble Apple in the slightest, aside from being the same fruit.

Apple's really gonna have trouble when people wander into an Apple Store thinking they are going to find groceries. But I suppose if you think your customers don't have the ability to distinguish the two then sue, sue, sue.

exactly. or, to the uninitiated, OMG, a "w".

W is for apple, kids.

Oh no wait, that's patently (haha no pun intended) ridiculous............

Can we sue apple for implying that we are too stupid to know the difference and and we will go into Apple stores looking to buy our weekly groceries, or into a Woolworths stores to buy our iPhones?

I hope Apple isn't suggesting that their customers are so thick that they won't be able to tell the difference between the two.

The Woolworths logo to me resembles a "W" and the leaf over the upper right helps form an "S".

Woolworths

Of course I just woke up, but that's what I see. heh

"
Woolworths have spent a long time and money pushing themselves as the 'fresh food people"

Thre used to be a Woolworths close to my hometown and it had nothing to do with food. It was a department store

Do you live in AUS?? cuz Woolworths in the UK i think is a department store... Though i would be shocked if a Woolworths in AUS sold no food :S

Wait wait wait, Apple are going to sue a company that has just fought back from one of the biggest liquidations the UK retail market has seen? Are they really that evil?

The Teej said,
Wait wait wait, Apple are going to sue a company that has just fought back from one of the biggest liquidations the UK retail market has seen? Are they really that evil?

Different Woolworths, different country...

Woolies one does not have bug so i see no issue

Also... They wait a year?

Looking at the design of the logo as well the target was an apple, as they sell fruit, though its intention was a W

Cause obviously they have copyright on everything relating to apples, including the fruit itself. Where do you think apples came from? In 1976, when Apple Inc created them. I mean, you didn't know that apple growers paid royalties?

The apple in the Book of Genesis? Copyrighted.

Well I think the issue is that Woolworths is getting a blanket trademark to cover even electronics. That is where Apple has an issue. If both logos were on mp3 players would you have an issue then? Probably not now but how about later.

Seriously....Woolworths is a supermarket chain. It's more likely they'll brand their electronics under Dicksmith Electronics (DSE) - one of their subsidiaries here in Australia that sells electronic goods, rather than branding them under Woolies.

zagor said,
Guys, just be careful not to use green-blue-red-yellow colors. MS can sue you for it!

You mean like the google logo, oh snap

The Real Alex said,
or Google Chrome logo.

Well, if MS were to act like Apple, they should have sued all of these guys by now :-)

I think the entire point of this is that Apple is legally required to protect there patents and brand. If they don't it sets a precedent and other companies may, and I stress may, take advantage of that. Also, the key point to highlight is that Woolworths is asking for a blanket trademark, which includes electrical goods and technology, something that Apple already has a trademark on for their logo.

stenorman2001 said,
I think the entire point of this is that Apple is legally required to protect there patents and brand. If they don't it sets a precedent and other companies may, and I stress may, take advantage of that. Also, the key point to highlight is that Woolworths is asking for a blanket trademark, which includes electrical goods and technology, something that Apple already has a trademark on for their logo.

Really?!

Thanks for your comment 'stenorman2001' because like everybody else, I initially thought that this article was stupid but reading this post does make this whole thing make sense.

Because Woolworths (the Australian company, totally unrelated to anything overseas) own a electronics chain of stores called 'Dick Smith Electronics' for which they market their own brand called 'DSE'. These products are products taken from other brands and re-branded and repackaged under the 'DSE' label.

In addition Woolworths are a big and aggressive company that does have a reputation for taking things as far as they can go.

I seriously doubt you'd ever see some cheap MP3 player with the new Woolworths logo stamped on it because DSE and Woolworths are complete separate business units. Even if you did, you certainly wouldn't see it being passed off as an Apple product, and you wouldn't also see for sale it outside Australia / New Zealand either.

The only scenario that could cause them to have their 'W' stamped on electronics is because the 'Aldi' chain of supermarkets do sell things like computers and TVs which has forced also Coles and Woolworths to stock these items too (in a limited capacity). This mean the possibility of seeing a Woolworths branded electronic item such as MP3 player isn't entirely out of the question.

So yeah... now I do think Apple are probably doing the right thing.

Actually now I've had time to re-consider again, I actually think Apple can go and jump. Even if they put the logo on electronics, it's a stylised W done up to look like a piece of fresh produce.

If Apple win this I think it set a worse precedence.

Woolies wont stock "Woolworths" branded TV/s or MP3 players... Yes they stock some home brand ones but they split the companies up to reduce their "monopoly" on the market.. DSE stock the brands (labled DSE or not) and Big W stock the home brand (imported ones labled under past companies e.g. AKIO and AWA)... We will see a W on MP3 players though it wont be the Woolworths W it would be the Big W.

So what if they have an electronics chain? The problem is you can't Trademark or patent everything. The problem is that Apple was allowed to have an apple as a logo. I can't go to the patent office and patent the word "the" and expect royalties from all published works that use the word "the".

Plus other than a "W" looking like an apple it does not look like the Apple logo. The Apple Corp. Logo and Apple Inc.'s Logo looks more alike than these 2 logo's do.

Apple need to get over themselves, seriously. It didn't even cross my mind the new logo was similar to Apple's (and I see it all the time traveling to and from work) they are being pedantic to be honest.

Unless Apple™ owns the shape and design of an Apple (the fruit) this is quite frankly ridiculous, but nothing Apple does could surprise me any-more.
Somehow I don't see people walking into Apple asking where the fresh food is.

While I certainly don't agree with this, the above precedent with Apple Corps could, unfortunately, apply. Right or wrong, Woolworths doesn't stand a snowball's chance in Hell.

This is the stupidest thing... keep your IP BS in your own country!!

Woolworths have spent a long time and money pushing themselves as the 'fresh food people' and a apple is a good example.

Does Apple now own the right to use of apples? how long until we have to pay a small fee everytime we eat an actual apple.

What ever happened to the old Beatles music company "apple records" and their lawsuit with apple (ipods computers etc).

Obviously Apple/Parlophone had a much better claim to the apple name for selling music that itunes does!

What ever happened to the old Beatles music company "apple records" and their lawsuit with apple (ipods computers etc).

They got screwed, plain and simple. See the bolded part.

In 1978, Apple Records filed suit against Apple Computer (now Apple Inc.) for trademark infringement. The suit was settled in 1981 with the payment of $80,000 to Apple Corps. As a condition of the settlement, Apple Computer agreed to stay out of the music business. A dispute subsequently arose in 1989 when Apple Corps sued, alleging that Apple Computer's machines' ability to play back MIDI music was a violation of the 1981 settlement agreement. In 1991 another settlement, of around $26.5 million, was reached. In September 2003 Apple Computer was again sued by Apple Corps, this time for introducing the iTunes Music Store and the iPod, which Apple Corps asserted was a violation of Apple's agreement not to distribute music. The trial opened on March 29, 2006 in the UK and, in a judgment issued on May 8, 2006, Apple Corps lost the case.

On 5 February 2007, Apple Inc. and Apple Corps announced a settlement of their trademark dispute under which Apple Inc. will own all of the trademarks related to “Apple” (including all designs of the famed 'Granny Smith' Apple Corps Ltd. logos) and will license certain of those trademarks back to Apple Corps for their continued use. The settlement ends the ongoing trademark lawsuit between the companies, with each party bearing its own legal costs, and Apple Inc. will continue using its name and logos on iTunes. The settlement includes terms that are confidential.

The website for Harmonix's The Beatles: Rock Band is notable as the first tangible evidence of the Apple, Inc./Apple Corps Ltd. settlement: 'Apple Corps' is prominently referred to throughout, and the 'Granny Smith' Apple logo appears but the text beneath the logo now reads 'Apple Corps' rather than the previous 'Apple'. The website's acknowledgements specifically state that, "'Apple’ and the ‘Apple logo’ are exclusively licensed to Apple Corps Ltd.".

I'm not sure that I ever seen a green apple logo like that, but then again they used pretty much every possible color.

That being said, this is stupid, it only stains Apple's reputation to do this, both logos are really different.

What a joke! The logos don't look the slightest bit similar. If I saw the Woolworths logo for the first time by itself, Apple would never even come to mind.

Wait, so now NOONE anywhere can make their logo an Apple? They don't even look the same. This is rediculous. Apple has a bit in theirs!

The rules are in this example to stop companies using an apple logo to sell electrical devices - in theory this is to stop consumers being confused.

We've included the two logos for you to compare, courtesy of AppleInsider.

Since when have Apple ever used a green logo? They're blatantly trying to make it look more similar than it really is...