back to article Apple chokes on Woolworths logo

Apple has moved to prevent Oz retailer Woolworths from trademarking a logo - something which would allow it to "slap its branding and logo on every imaginable product", as The Age puts it. The Woolworths and Apple logos The problem is, according to Apple, that Woolies' brand frontage is too close to its own. Woolworths' …


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  1. EddieD
    Thumb Down

    Prior Art

    Apple Corp, the beatles record label were using an Apple as a trademark waaaaay before Steve Jobs had even heard of a computer.

    I hope this is as full of fail as most Mac trademark grabs.

  2. SkippyBing

    How retarded

    do Apple think their customers are if they might confuse those two logos?

  3. Jimmy Floyd

    Get a better name

    I'm going to start a new company. It's going to be called 'Easy McApple.' The revenue stream will be based on betting who will sue us first...

  4. Flossie
    Thumb Up


    Wow, Oz still has Woolworths ! Perhaps they could come and re-open some of the British stores for us and show us how it's done.

  5. Ian Halstead

    Woolies revenge...

    ...for those multicoloured gumdrop iMacs.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    I hope Woolworths told Apple

    to kind fuck off.

    Remind me again why are they so highly rated?

  7. James 5

    I think it is...

    .. about time that strong action was taken against those companies whose name and logo bear no resemblance to the product(s) they are selling.

    Hence, Apple will need to prove that it's major business is in growing and selling Apples (the fruit) - failure to do so will render their name and logo null and void !

    MicroSoft will be forced to change to "World Domination Software" or WoDoSo.

    Google to "TheRealBigBrother(be afraid, very afraid)"

  8. Anonymous Coward


    either they laywers are on crack, or they've started to belive their own marketing / patent bullshit.

    Next they want to ban the certain letters of the french and german alphabet as they have a circly bits and some above them.

  9. cdtplug


    I think the Oz people will be sticking two fingers up to apple and giving woolies the go ahead as it looks nothing like there logo. get a grip apple

  10. Andrew Moore

    There's fun to be had...

    ...if we can get Sir Paul and Ringo to give Woolworths the thumbs up.

  11. Robert E A Harvey

    Paging Mr Mcartney...

    Woolies sell records, right?

    Apple Corps sued Apple computer about apple selling music, right?

    So will the ex-beatle now sue woolies?

    Oh, and Woolworths? What was wrong with the old red-and-gold W? Has the British debacle devalued it? our local peddler of cheap frozen foods still has the glass panels in the front with the big W on them.

  12. Anonymous John

    I canse Apple's point

    It's not just an apple but one with a bite taken out of it.

    Woolworth's don't sell half-eaten fruit, does it?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Jimmy Floyd

    "I'm going to start a new company. It's going to be called 'Easy McApple.' The revenue stream will be based on betting who will sue us first..."

    I like that so much that I'm going to steal it for my email .sig. If you don't like that you can sue me :-)

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Comparing apples with oranges

    "they would have to take action against every fruit-seller"

    Especially those that take a bite out of the apple before putting it on display.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    I remember reading somewhere that Apple chose their name and logo in 'homage' to Apple Records - and so from the outset chose to live in a namespace with more than one company with their name and logo.

    Funny how they don't remember that themselves....

  17. Dave Bell

    Trademark Specificity

    Itdoeslook as though the lawyer you quoted didn't know what they were talking about. What Apple said, about computers, seemed quite sensible, based on other cases. Australian law of course, but if Apple can move into the music business, Oz Woolworths can make computers, and other trademark holders will have reason to be a bit picky.

    Besides, don't Apple, under trademark law, have to do something in this case.


  18. Anonymous Coward

    Font Madness

    Next up, Apple suing the creators of Most Fonts, for δ and Ó, which can all be misconstrued as apples to a deranged mind. ώ will be next, once this Woolworths business is sorted.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    I eagerly await the day...

    ... that iApple gets royally shafted for this (yet another) attempt at trying to lay claim to every image of an apple that has ever existed. As EddieD said, Apple don't even sell apples. They can't stop the people that do sell apples advertising the fact.

    Comparing the two logos is like comparing two cars... that each have four wheels and doors. That doesn't make them the same, or even remotely similar.

    Get off your bleached ivory tower, iApple, and have a bowl of fruit. Maybe then you'll get some colour in your life and see the light.

  20. Winkypop Silver badge

    Woolies in Oz

    Woolies in Australia sells groceries, fruit, veg, meat, booze, canned goods, etc.....oh and other handy homely bits and pieces found in any modern supermarket. And maybe a few DVDs, and some low-cost, Chinese made, electrical goods etc.

    The logo reminds me of fruit, pretty much what they sell.

    Apple are rotten.

  21. Tim Parker

    @Anonymous John

    "I canse Apple's point"

    "It's not just an apple but one with a bite taken out of it."

    That's the Apple one...

  22. Anonymous Coward

    Just turn the Woolworth stem to the left!

    That would solve everything!

  23. Gordon Pryra

    But it IS actually the Apple logo...

    As funny as it all is, the Woolies logo IS the Apple logo, but in green....

  24. Wize

    Will they be stopping...

    ...any company with a fruit based logo?

  25. LuMan


    Well, they certainly look different to me. But the designers of Woolies' new logo have definitely made the logo look like some sort of apple. Quite why, I don't know. I'm sure Oz has much more interesting fruit. Perhaps it's a Bible thing.

    Still, we can't be surprised at Apple for taking action. All big companies do it. After all, M$ took action against Mike Rowe when he set up his online software store, Mike Rowe Soft (search the archives - it's in here somewhere).

    Woolies should know better, Apple do what they always do, the World keeps turning.....

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    My childh δ δd has been st δlen

    δ and Ó, what these are not apple logos?

    next you'll be telling me there is no such person as father christmas or the cat in the hat.

    paris: as i wouldnt mind abusing her logo

  27. Anonymous Coward

    Apple thinks it owns the word pod too....

    Strangely enough our directors are fighting off a simular challenge relating to our use of a word in our product range that can mean a container of many smaller items, despite our markets and products being quite different from Apples typical customers and products.

    Somehow, i think my bosses are stuborn enough to go to court, since he was stubborn enough to return his iPhone because of this.

  28. Mister_C

    @ Jimmy Floyd

    £5 on Disney

  29. Michael Strorm Silver badge

    This isn't the Woolies you're looking for...

    Bad news for the nostalgics in this thread. The Oz Woolies has no relation (and never did) to the original American Woolworths or its British offshoot. They just snapped up the name in the 1920s and used it themselves when they found out it wasn't already registered in Australia(!)

  30. Fluffykins Silver badge



    With nuts

  31. Simon 6


    @y Jimmy Floyd Posted Monday 5th October 2009 10:12 GMT

    You Sir, owe me a new keyboard! (starts trying to clear redbull from said keyboard)


  32. JohnG

    How about the Hamas logo?

    Are Apple going to sue them next?

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @Gordon Pryra

    Are you on drugs?

  34. Francis Vaughan


    Sadly this will be just another round of lawyers trying to justify their existence. Some firm of US lawyers will have already billed Apple for an insane amount of money to start this. But Woolworth's lawyers won't be telling them to sod off. Far from it. They will be advising Woolworth's management of the seriousness of the threat, and the need to spend huge amounts on yet more lawyers fees (their's) to address the threat. In response the US lawyers will lick their lips and draw up a hugely expensive plan of action and advise Apple of the need to move forward with it forthwith. End result? Lawyers in both countries buy new holiday villias in the Bahamas. It is great work if you can get it.

  35. ThaMossop

    All we need is...

    Guy Goma to come and talk about this on BBC News again :)

  36. Rolf Howarth

    curly green thing

    The curly green W is quite a nice logo but if they're selling electronics, including MP3 players and computers, it's not obvious why they need to put a stalk on it unless the intention IS to make it suggestive of the Apple logo. At the very least they could have the stalk pointing the other way to make it clear it's different.

    The way trademark protection works is Apple have no choice but to challenge competing uses. If they don't defend their logo they use the rights to use it themselves.

    As for Apple vs Apple Corps (the Beatles music publisher), Apple were on the receiving end of precisely this sort of challenge themselves in a couple of well publicised legal challenges, which they settled out of court. The point is moot as to where the name and logo originally came from. You can buy and sell trademark and Apple *paid* the Beatles in order to be able to use the trademark relating to the music business, so now it's theirs. (That's also when they changed their name from Apple Computer Inc to plain Apple Inc.)

  37. Steve Brooks

    Precendent? Use the one Apple set for em!

    Living in Oz I have actually seen the woolies apple shaped logo in action, it is 100% linked to fresh food, the jingle for woolies in Oz is "Woolies, the fresh food people." Now Apple got around the Beatles trademark problem by simply pointing out that the Beatles sold Music and Apple sold computers (ignoring for now iTunes and the Apple Music Shop). To argue against Woolies using thier logo to sell fresh food would be to argue against their own argument that let them use the apple in their trademark.

    Now to iTunes and et al. When apple started selling music (despite having promised never to do so, the Beatles didn't want two Apple logos in the music industry) there was a big court case, surely we all remember that? In fact the Beatles lost that case, the summary was thus;

    "But Mr Justice Anthony Mann ruled that the computer company used the Apple logo in association with its store, not the music, and so was not in breach."

    So Woolworth simply needs to dredge up the details of this case and argue that their green curly Apple logo is used in association with their store, and not any computer hardware it may sell, using Apples own court case as precedent. I can't imagine Woolies lawyers are idiots and since Apple themselves have already set the precedent I smell a big fail coming Apples way!

  38. Dan 10

    @Jimmy Floyd - Easy McApple

    Absolutely sterling comment!

  39. Player_16
    Jobs Halo

    I can see their point.

    That leaf is pointing in the SAME DIRECTION! That's not appropriate.

    I'm confused... It's like... . . .seeing . . . double. . .

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    The real story

    Understand that the I.P. attorneys have to justify their stupidly large annual billing by demonstrating to the Board of Directors just how much "money" they "saved" the company by rigorously defending the company's I.P.

    It doesn't matter if it badgering teenagers that appropriated their trademark for their Apple fan page with "Cease and Desist" letters, or going after a "hackintosh" manufacturer. That's why stupid things like this end up in the news. It doesn't have to make much of any sense at all, it just has to sound good at the end of the fiscal year.

  41. Blubster

    Looks like sour grapes to me..

    No. Not the logos, the attitude of Apple computers. The Woollies logo is FAR better looking than that silvery blue monstrosity next to it IMHO.

  42. steward

    Maybe Woolworth's should buy Apple records

    and reopen the suit based on Apple's reasoning.

  43. Doc Spock

    Take a Deep Breath People!

    Rolf Howarth and Steve Brooks seem to be in the minority of people who properly understand the situation.

    The argument which Apple are presenting is that Woolworths may use the logo on electrical items and _at that point_ the logo similarities may cause confusion. This is why Apple Inc. did not have to settle with Apple Records _until the former started selling music_. Prior to that point, they were operating in completely different spaces so there was no scope for confusion.

    Apple, like any company, must defend their trademarks in order to preserve brand identity. Now that Apple have brought this action, it falls to Woolworths to convince a judge that they will not be using the logo in association with any electrical items. And if they don't, but decide to do so at a later date, Apple can go after them for breaking this promise (in the same way that Apple Records went after Apple Inc. when they entered the music selling business - as they had already won a ruling which prevented Apple (Computers) Inc from doing so).

    So, Woolworths will be free to use the logo provided that they do not apply it to electrical goods, and Apple needs to ensure that this ruling is passed as early as possible.

  44. Chris Evans

    Logo for 'Easy McApple'

    The logo for 'Easy McApple' would be am Orange coloured Apple with a bite taken out of it sitting in front on a big yellow M! (c) C Evans 2009

  45. Anonymous Coward

    so I was passing my grocery store

    ... And saw these fantasically real 3D apple logos arranged outside, so I inquired within about laptops. Never understood why the salesman checked the coast was clear, but he produced a nice shiny laptop from a bag under the counter, and I duly paid my money. You can image how horrified I was when it didn't boot into OSX... i'm off to phone trading standards!!

  46. James O'Brien

    @Jimmy Floyd

    Classic. Though if you added a few more companies names together in there you could have a better business model :)

  47. Anonymous Coward

    apples and oranges

    Does this mean I am going to have to change my apple logo for my apple company to an orange?


  48. Anonymous Coward


    I know how retarded *I* think they are...

  49. Simpson

    Prior art

    Ò ó ð é

  50. sventamagotchi

    so it's just me that sees aj jazeera logo?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a shower.

    Apple also don't make waterproof raincoats. Line 6 do make Pods though.

  52. Ned Ludd

    Look at it this way:


  53. Bryn Smith

    Not quite what was reported in The Age

    If you look at the original article in The Age:

    It says that

    "Apple is spooked by the fact that Woolworths has gone for a blanket trademark that would allow it to slap its branding and logo on every imaginable product."

    This is an important point. While Woolworths doesn't currently make or sell PCs, they are applying for the registered logo that they could potentially use to market them.

    Woolworths could probably just get around this by restricting their application for trademark to not apply to electronic devices or similar.

  54. Leo Stretch


    Here in NZ at any rate, Woolworths is akin to Sainsburys, maybe Tescos. All owned by parent Aussie company Progressive.

    We're getting the same logo over here, albeit the stores branding Countdown

    but Woolworths et al over here is certainly seen as a supermarket and not the dear tat bazaar we so fondly remember over in Blighty.

    So, yeah, the logo to me makes perfect sense, conveys freshness. They may sell electronic goods too, but they're primarily foodstuffs. Always have been, I'm told.

    In any case, I don't think they have "own brand" electronics goods - its just their food that is so.

    FWIW, doesn't look exactly the same, but then it doesn't look entirely different.

  55. Toastan Buttar

    Pear Computers on iCarly

    I noticed that on the Nickelodeon TV show iCarly, they use 'Pear' branded computers. I was wondering if anyone knew the reasoning behind this - did Nick get threatened with anything or is it a way of avoiding allegations of product placement ? Citations would be nice as all I could find online was fan speculation.

  56. Ascylto

    @ Jobby

    I don't think Apple comment upon this (no surprise, there) but my understanding was that Apple chose the logo in homage to Alan Turing, father of the modern computer and responsible for much of the decoding of Hitler's messages. Turing killed himself by injecting an apple with poison and then taking a bite out of it after he was prosecuted for having a same-sex lover. Homosexuality was a crime in the UK in those days.

    Who knows?

  57. DZ-Jay

    Re: Pear Computers on iCarly

    Yes, all of the above. Plus, come'on, "Pear Computers"... that's funny!


  58. Julian 1

    Apples and Pears

    There used to be Apricot computers with a logo which could have confused users - except it was apricot coloured - orange for those who do not know the colour of an apricot.

  59. Justin Clements

    Does anyone here understand trademark law?

    Or is everyone just spouting bollocks?

    Apple has to defend its trademark and its right otherwise they lose them. It doesn't matter who does what or where, Apple is obliged to defend its mark each and everytime, even if it means coming to an agreement with Woolworths over it.

    And, as much as you guys hate Apple, Apple does have a point. If this mark showed up on a computer or MP3 player then it could easily cause confusion in the market place. Trademarks are designed to protect a company's investments in their brand and marks.

  60. Trixr

    It doesn't matter if Woolies will sell electronics

    ...for those apologists spouting that Apple need to "protect their brand".

    Hello, Woolies will not be -naming- their electronics "Apple", the logos look nothing alike, they use different colours (yes, that's part of the trademark), yadda yadda yadda.

    Yes, trademarks (and trademarked logos) are designed to protect a company's brand, which is apparent when someone rips off the Gucci logo for their knock-off goods and gets sued up the wazoo This is just Apple being a bunch of cheeky f#cktards - "having a go" to give their trademark lawyers some more work and generating some publicity.

  61. Randomyachtie

    @ Logo for 'Easy McApple'

    Take the McDonald M and bend the outer legs in at the bottom to make it a bit more rounded, put a stalk in the dip at the top and colour the whole thing a uniform Orange. Take a bite out of the side if you must!

    Now you can grantee that if woolworths win this case, they can then sue you too. Essentially giving you an extra product line for the duration of the case.

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