Swiss Apple Growers Not Thrilled With Apple

Farmers group worries it may have to change its century-old logo in trademark battle
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 21, 2023 11:19 AM CDT
Swiss Apple Growers Not Thrilled With Apple
The Apple logo adorns the facade of a store in Brooklyn.   (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Apple the company has been around since 1976. Apple the fruit, a lot longer—which helps explain how a Swiss farmers organization has been using an apple as its logo for 111 years. But as Wired UK explains, perhaps not for much longer. The Fruit Union Suisse is in the midst of a trademark battle with the American company, which is waging an aggressive battle not just in Switzerland but all over the world to "gain intellectual property rights over depictions of apple, the fruit," writes Gabriela Galindo. For the record, the farmers group uses a whole apple, not a bitten one, as the company does.

"You know, Apple didn't invent apples," says Fruit Union Suisse director Jimmy Mariethoz, whose group is described as being baffled by the lawsuit. "Their objective here is really to own the rights to an actual apple, which, for us, is something that is really almost universal ... that should be free for everyone to use." If that seems sensible enough, Macworld points out that "common sense is sometimes lacking in trademark disputes." The Wired story quotes one legal expert as saying that Swiss law theoretically protects companies in such disputes if they can prove prior use of a disputed image, but the same expert notes that deep-pocketed companies such as Apple can intimidate smaller entities in legal fights.

The Tech Transparency Project reported last year that Apple is particularly aggressive on that front, having filed more trademark oppositions in the US over a three-year period (215), more than the combined total (136) of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. And often the targeted businesses are of the mom-and-pop variety, with TTP citing examples: "an organization that supports families of children with autism, a school district in Appleton, Wisconsin, and an online test prep service for nursing students." In the Swiss case, the farmers group says it would cost millions to rebrand if it has to change its logo. (More Apple stories.)

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