Looking at NYC’s GreeNYC campaign logo — a little green apple with curve bisecting it — it certain looks harmless. The GreeNYC campaign was launched by Mayor Bloomberg as part of a vision for sustainability over the next twenty-five years. It aims to cut the city’s carbon emissions by 30 percent and to conserve natural resources.
The innocent looking logo has been popping up of late on bus shelters, hybrid taxis and shopping bags from Whole Foods. The city filed for trademark for the logo in May 2007. Soon after filing Apple began a fierce legal campaign against the symbol, which it has continued to escalate to the present. Apple claims that the earth friendly logo will, “seriously injure the reputation with which [Apple] has established for its goods and services.”
Perhaps Apple bears a bit of ill will against environmentalist movements due to its rough treatment at their hands in the past. Environmental activists Greenpeace blasted the MacBook Air, which it gave a B-, and the iPhone, which it denounced as “toxic”. Still, Apple has promised reform and has tried to revamp its products to be environmentally. CEO Steve Jobs even claims to be a big environmentalist and supporter of Nobel Prize-winning activist Al Gore.
Regardless Apple, for some reason, has chosen to wage legal war against NYC over a trademark that looks at casual glance little if anything like the Apple logo, other than its a logo with an apple in it. NYC officials state. “The city believes that Apple’s claims have no merit and that no consumer is likely to be confused.”
Lawyers specializing in trademarks stated that Apple will be hard pressed to prove a case of trademark dilution. For such a case to work, Apple would have to virtually argue than any logo with an apple in it violates Apple’s trademarks. In other words Apple has to basically prove that it has exclusive trademark of the world’s most popular produce.
Apple has waged lengthy legal campaigns over its name and device names in the past. Apple finally ended its long battle with the Beatles’ Apple Corps not long ago, opening the way for a possible arrival of the Beatles catalog on iTunes. Apple also fought Cisco Systems, who tried to use the name iPhone for its products to Apple’s chagrin.
The final decision will be made by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the patent office. Currently surveys are being commissioned which will question people at malls across the country to determine if Apple has any right to challenge NYC over the logo.
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