Apple has form when it comes to trademark battles. It had a long lengthy fight with the Beatles' music label, Apple Corps, and it even took on a company that had a pear for a logo in a frankly baffling dispute, resolved in 2021. Now, Apple is trying to take down the Fruit Union Suisse, the oldest and largest fruit farmer's organisation in Switzerland. Its beef? The organisation's logo consists of a red apple with a white cross.
The Fruit Union Suisse's logo is not new, the organisation has been around for 111 years and it's had the apple logo for most of its history. And as director Jimmy Mariéthoz points out, "it's not like they're trying to protect their bitten apple," meaning that it's tricky to see where Apple is coming from. After all, it already owns one of the best logos of all time.
"Their objective here is really to own the rights to an actual apple, which, for us, is something that is really almost universal… that should be free for everyone to use," says Mariéthoz, according to Wired.
Apple has been trying to own this particular apple since 2017, when it submitted an application to the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) to claim the rights for a black-and-white depiction of an apple, including potential uses such as music, video records, DVDs and motion pictures. According to Wired, the IPI partially granted Apple's request last autumn, saying that Apple could have some of the rights it wanted, but cited a legal principle "that considers generic images of common goods – like apples – to be in the public domain." Apple launched an appeal in spring of this year.
The idea that a company can own a fruit that's been around for...well... a lot longer than Apple itself seems pretty ridiculous. And taking on a company that's been around for 111 years also seems quite... fruitless.
But it isn't just this case that Apple is fighting. With Apple racking up more trademark oppositions than big tech companies such as Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google put together, it's hard to be sympathetic with its cause. Brands that have been targeted by the Cupertino giant include those that seem to pose no threat to its business, such as a stationery brand named Paperapple, an organisation that supports families of children with autism and a school district in Appleton Wisconsin.
With the Fruit Union Suisse case still in court and a decision not expected for months or even years, it remains to be seen whether Apple will get anywhere with this one. For more spats over logos, see our logo disputes roundup.