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Apple Disputing German Café’s Apple-Based Logo

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Apfelkind logo from website

Apfelkind logo from website

The trademark application of a German café named after an apple orchard is being opposed by—you guessed it—Apple.

According to The Local, the family establishment in Bonn named Apfelkind is a coffee shop that also features homemade baked goods, including apple cake. Based on the café’s theme and location near an apple orchard, owner Christin Römer had a logo made: “a red apple with a cut-out silhouette of a child in a hat.”

The word “Apfelkind” is a combination of the German words for apple and child, which communicates the goal of the eatery to serve as a place where families can bring their children and enjoy some apple-based snacks as well.

The logo now appears on various items associated with the café, and Römer has plans for expansion, which is exactly why she wanted to register her trademark.

But after she sent her registration to the Munich Patent Office, Apple sent her a cease-and-desist letter saying that Apfelkind’s logo was too close to the Apple logo and that it could confuse consumers. Apple demanded that Römer withdraw her application, but she isn’t budging.

The dispute will now turn to the Munich Patent Office, which will have to decide whether there is indeed a likelihood of confusion raised by the Apfelkind apple logo based on the following criteria:

  • Similarity of signs
  • Similarity of related goods/services
  • Distinctiveness of protected sign

It seems Apple might have a stronger case if Apfelkind provided computers or even wi-fi service at its location, but it doesn’t, and Römer, an iPhone user (at least for now), has no plans to do so.

According to The Local, Apple spokesman Georg Albrecht had no comment.

So does Apple really have the worldwide trademark rights to any logo that includes an Apple? Incidentally, the computer conglomerate recently asked a noodles and flour company based in Sichuan to change its logo as well.

These Apple-related disputes bring to mind the Facebook trademark battles over the word “book” in trademarks (Shagbook and Lamebook, for instance). Looks like these giant-corporations-defending-their-trademarks cases are going worldwide.

Stay tuned.

*Thanks to German Trademark Law in a Nutshell for providing excellent information on German trademark law.

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November 2nd, 2011 at 6:18 am