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Steve Jobs Loses His Mind - Sues "The Big Apple"

The City's Response? Bite My Apple!

(April 4, 2008) - Friday morning a local Fox television station in New York City broke the news - Apple was suing New York City. Six out of 100 of their viewers thought Apple had the right to sue the City, but 94 out of 100 viewers are now calling for New Yorkers to drop Apple and its products, including the iPhone and Macs. New Yorkers are pissed off!

Hilary Potkewitz, reporting for Crain's New York Business, puts it very well. I quote:

"New York City, universally known as The Big Apple, is facing a lawsuit from Steve Jobs’ Apple Computer Inc. for, of all things, copyright infringement.

The suit stems from New York’s environmental awareness campaign, GreeNYC, and its logo, which uses the outline of an apple, complete with a little leaf on top. Filed in September, the suit had gone unnoticed until this week. The California computer giant claims the drawing is too similar to its ubiquitous trademark.

The City’s Response? Bite My Apple!
New York City Corp. Counsel Michael Cardozo quickly filed a counterclaim to have Apple’s case thrown out, citing differences between both logos, and the fact that Apple Computer does not sell mugs, caps or other items, making confusion unlikely. He added that NYC & Company, the non-profit city marketing organization behind the logo, is dedicated to increasing tourism to New York and all of its sites - including the various Apple stores - ultimately benefiting the computer company.

As a concession, the city agreed to eliminate beer steins from its retail catalog because Apple Computer had previously filed for that particular use of its logo.

At the center of the controversy is the city program’s icon, a free-form sketch of Eve’s favorite fruit. In recent weeks that logo has started sprouting up on local bus shelters and on fashionable grocery sacs sold at Whole Foods Markets. The city plans to print it on T-shirts, caps, mugs and various other items throughout the Mayor Bloomberg-created campaign.

But according to the maker of Macs, that is not what the doctor ordered.

“[GreeNYC’s logo] so closely resembles Apple’s [logo] that its use is likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception in the minds of consumers,” wrote Apple Computer’s lawyers in their September filing with the Trademark Trial and Appeal board objecting to the logo."


More Stories By Salvatore Genovese

Salvatore Genovese is a Cloud Computing consultant and an i-technology blogger based in Rome, Italy. He occasionally blogs about SOA, start-ups, mergers and acquisitions, open source and bleeding-edge technologies, companies, and personalities. Sal can be reached at hamilton(at)sys-con.com.

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Most Recent Comments
David 04/07/08 03:39:15 PM EDT

As noted, this concerns trademarks, a significantly different area of IP than copyright. Also, the legal standard is "likely to cause confusion," hence why you are likely to see that in any filings by the complaining party. It's considered standard language.

The analysis turns on, among other things, a "probability of confusion." That would have been a more relevant question to the NYC public (e.g., Q:"are you confused by the apples? A: is this a joke?").

The Editor 04/04/08 02:46:25 PM EDT

It isn't a lawsuit, it's an objection to a filing; and it isn't a copyright, it's a tradename. A writer, of all people, should know the difference.

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