Sunday, October 30, 2011

Apple Takes Action Against Cafe in Bonn for Infringing on Its Famous Logo

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has sent a “cease-and-desist”letter to “Apfelkind“, a cafe in Bonn, Germany. Apfelkind („Apple child“) uses a logo consisting of a red apple with the silhouette of a child inside.

Owner Christin Römer submitted the design to the Trademark and Patent Bureau in Munich, Germany. She applied for 42 classes (categories), including fashion and service provider. She also stated that she would like to franchise her “Apfelkind” concept.

The legal eagles at Apple noticed that the two logos are very similar. Apple lawyers promptly objected to the submission and issued a “cease-and-desist” letter to Ms. Römer.

She immediately involved the German media, playing the David vs. Goliath card.

But things are not as clear cut as Ms. Römer might think.

The problem is not just having the logo on the building. She also sells merchandize with the logo (such as cups) online. She also writes on her website that she is planning to expand her webshop (there is already a picture of pillows featuring the logo).

Furthermore, her submitting the logo in the category “service provider” and announcing that she wants to build a franchise show that she is a savvy business woman.

Her claim that her logo was inspired “by the apple trees of my neighbors” is weak to say the least. She hired a graphic studio to do the design. Any reputable graphic designer will warn against piggyback-riding on famous logos.

How will it end? Ms. Römer has two choices: to spend a lot of money fighting for her patent, or changing the design and removing it from the “service provider” category.

In the mean time, she got lots of free publicity. She should realize that multinationals invested a fortune in their brand and are therefore highly protective of their logo.

The lesson to be learned here is to make sure that your logo, font type, slogan or color scheme do not even vaguely resemble those of other companies. Be original! It is not only better marketing, but also prevents legal problems.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great point! It's not always easy to check every other logo out there to make sure yours is original, but it's the kind of legwork that needs to be done. It did however, provide her with tons of media buzz, and in essence replaced any search engine optimization services she may have needed to use because all the attention was creating for her.