Monday, August 10, 2020

Apple Legal vs. Prepear

Hartley Charlton (tweet, Hacker News):

Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of “Super Healthy Kids,” and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear’s logo, arguing that its attributes are too similar to its own logo.

This is ridiculous. Their pear logo looks nothing like Apple’s. Alas, this bullying isn’t new.

Philip Oltermann, in 2013:

Apfelkind (Apple Child) is a cafe in Bonn where parents can sip lattes while children play with toys or listen to storytellers. Its logo shows the outline of a child’s face within a red apple – with none of the characteristic bite marks of the electronics manufacturer’s logo.

Yet when Apfelkind’s owner, Christin Römer, filed a trademark application for her company in 2011, Apple got in touch asking her to withdraw the request since customers could potentially confuse the two logos.

Römer stood firm and a two-year legal correspondence ensued. Last week Apple withdrew its objection.

Greta Hamann:

After countless meetings with Apple’s lawyers and sleepless nights, Römer says, the company offered her a settlement. But Römer didn’t want sign the contract. To do so would have forbidden her from manufacturing products related to computers - such as carrying cases for laptops, for example. But it was one sentence in particular that bothered the café owner.

“I wouldn’t have been able to talk about it anymore, and would only be able to say that I have come to an agreement with Apple,” she told DW.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal, in 2012:

According to Telepolis, Apple is taking issue with the’s logo, and is claiming that the grocer is trying to deliberately confuse customers by using Apple’s well-known likeness and reputation. Considering Apple sells iPhones (and iPads, and MacBook Airs, and Mac OS X, and other non-edible technology items), and sells food (and cleaning products, and other items you might find in a grocery store), this seems like a bit of a stretch. I think it’s unlikely that customers will mistake’s products for iPhones, and vice-versa.

Apple is continuing its efforts to force meal planner app Prepear to change its logo by expanding the fight beyond the United States, with the iPhone maker now going after the company’s trademark filing in Canada.

This one really takes the cake. Taking on school districts because they have a picture of an apple in their logo? Taking on a company because they depict a pineapple?

While Apple has not dropped its opposition, it appears a resolution to the dispute may be coming fairly soon, as filings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board last week have requested that the trial proceedings be suspended for 30 days as the “parties are actively engaged in negotiations for the settlement of this matter.”

Prepear, a recipe and meal-planning app, has agreed to change its pear logo to settle an ongoing trademark dispute with Apple, Prepear’s co-founder today confirmed to iPhone in Canada.


Though Prepear’s logo has a pear shape instead of an Apple shape, Apple seems to have taken offense to the right angle of Prepear’s leaf in the original logo. The new logo features a leaf that’s angled differently, a small change that Apple apparently feels makes it different enough from the famous Apple logo. Prepear’s app icon has also been tweaked.

7 Comments RSS · Twitter

Sean Broderick

These comments seem popular and sensible, yet unaware that should an organization be deemed lax in defense of its trademarks, it puts those properties in legal peril.

The legal system appears to encourage a level of trivial/abusive activity involving trademarks.

> judicial stance where, if you weren't watching your trademarks, the judge would look unfavorably on your case in court

It’s interesting that these are all post-2011...

@Sean Yes, but I just can’t believe that anyone would even think a judge might deem Apple lax for not defending their trademark against an outlined green pear, sans bite. And who would infringe on a trillion dollar company’s trademark on purpose with the aim of winning in court? It makes no sense.

Tim Apple has come a long way since Steve Jobs' Apple, Apple Records and "SoSuMi."

I call this current iteration of AAPL "Tim Apple" to avoid confusion with previous iterations of Apple under Steve Jobs and Scott Forestall to avoid confusion.

I do not recommend Tim Apple News, Tim Apple TV, and given the treatment of Charlie Monroe and other developers any Tim Apple products at this time.

>should an organization be deemed lax in defense
>of its trademarks, it puts those properties in
>legal peril

This is technically true in specific situations, but hardly applicable in this case (or in most cases where it is brought up). The actual cases where this obligation to enforce a trademark was actually actionable typically involved companies not acting against clear infringement (i.e. not "similar logos") for decades.

I don’t know, the restriction on selling computer-related products with an apple on them seems really reasonable.

I think it’s possible to restrict a trademark application to certain categories. Even if those companies currently don’t produce anything computer related, getting a broad trademark would allow them to do so in the future, and it would be too late for Apple to object. It would be interesting to know if those applications were sufficiently restricted.

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