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Apple Sues Canadian School for Similar Logo

By - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 44 comments

In the school system the apple fruit has always been a symbol of education. Symbolizing education in Canada is apparently a no-no because iPods are more important than learning.

The Victoria School of Business and Technology in Canada is being sued for the usage of their logo – which is apparently too similar to the logo used by technology giant Apple Inc. The school had received a cease and desist letter from Apple Inc. on August 26th from Apple’s lawyer Stephanie Vaccari – It states:

Your business logo… reproduces, without authority, our client’s Apple design logo which it widely used. By doing so, you are infringing Apple’s rights, and further, falsely suggesting that Apple has authorized your activities.

Christopher Boag, the school’s vice-president said he knows the school can’t win in a lengthy legal battle with Apple Inc., but he believes the school’s apple is a unique logo. Quoting a response from Dieter Gerhard, the schools president, in response to Stephanie’s letter:

Our logo is unique and distinguishable in numerous aspects from the Apple logo including the acronym ‘VSBT’ being part of our logo. Are you suggesting that anyone using any variation of an apple for technology education is infringing on Apple’s trademark?

The apple has long been an icon of education in many countries, and used in educational materials long before Apple Inc. came to be. This isn’t the first time there have been legal proceedings regarding the Apple logo either.

Apple Records, a record label company founded by The Beatles in 1968 as a division of Apple Corps Ltd had many trademark based legal run-ins with, then Apple Computer, now Apple Inc. In 1978 Apple Records filed a lawsuit against Apple Computer for trademark infringement. The suit was settled in 1981 for US$80,000 with agreed conditions by both parties that Apple Computer would not enter into the music business, and Apple Corps would not enter the computer business.

In 1986 Apple Computer added MIDI audio-recording capability to its computers with the 5503 sound chip from Ensoniq. In 1989 Apple Corps sued Apple Computer again, claiming violation of the 1981 settlement agreement. The outcome ended development of the Apple II line.

In 1991 another settlement involving a payment of around US$ 26.5 million to Apple Corps was reached. This time an Apple employee by the name of Jim Reekes had included a system sound called ‘Chimes’ to the Macintosh operating system. The name of the sound was then later changed to ‘sosumi’ which was apparently Japanese and meant nothing musical. However it can be read phonetically as “so sue me”. Apple computer agreed that it would not package, sell or distribute physical music materials.

In 2003 Apple Corps sued Apple Computer again for breach of contract for use of the Apple logo in the creation and operation of Apple Computer’s iTunes Music Store. On May 8, 2006 courts ruled in favor of Apple Computer.

So what does this all have to do with Apple Inc. bullying a school in Canada? Simple, Apple got a slap on the wrist many times for the exact same action that it is accusing VSBT of doing – trademark infringement. Then in May of 2006 a court ruled that no infringement had taken place. The end result is that it really has nothing to do with the usage of the logo itself – it has everything to do with the fact that Apple inc. has deeper pockets and more resources to get away with it. VSBT is also going to get a lot of attention because of this – now everyone knows who VSBT is.

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  • 1 Hide
    hellwig , October 7, 2008 9:54 PM
    I believe the story is misleading. Apple Corp sued Apple Computers because Apple Computers was infringing on the name Apple (and yes, also used an apple as the company trademark). Just like I couldn't call my garbage business Microsoft Garbage (this is infringing not only on the Microsoft trademark, but business strategy as well).

    Here, Apple Inc. is suing VSBT simply because both use an Apple for identification (if I'm not mistaken, Nature(TM) Inc. created the apple). I'm pretty sure this will get thrown out. Apple itself argued that it's icon was different from Apple Corps. because it had a "bite mark" in it. Since VSBT doesn't have a bite mark, and involves different coloring and a different general apple shape, I don't think Apple has a leg to stand on. Also, anyone remember when Apple's logo was a multi-colored apple? If VSBT had the "stylized" apple before Apple Inc., that's obviously prior art (not that I know this is the case).
  • 7 Hide
    nishiki , October 7, 2008 9:59 PM
    If i was the Judge, id refuse to ''listen'' this case and the reason given would be...stupid and useless case, no time to waste for childish stupidity like that....end of story. And if possible i would ask some $$$ to apple because they have annoyed the Justice system with it.
  • 8 Hide
    invisik , October 7, 2008 10:26 PM
    next apple sues apple trees!
  • 4 Hide
    jaragon13 , October 7, 2008 10:32 PM
    Apple sues United States government for growing similar fruits that look like it's logo,called the exact same as their company name,apple.

    Apple is suing for 20 billion dollars.
  • 8 Hide
    LkS , October 7, 2008 10:58 PM
    Suing an educational institution. That's disgusting.
  • 2 Hide
    Yuka , October 7, 2008 11:00 PM
    Oh, come on... This can't be true... Come on! XD

    Esop! XD
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2008 11:07 PM
    Apple Inc. sues Fiona Apple for her surname, Gwyneth Paltrow for her daughters name and then God and then anyone who uses the word apple on their products. Watch your back Sara Lee!
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 7, 2008 11:10 PM
    apple has a girl lawyer its prob just her time of the month
  • 2 Hide
    starhoof , October 7, 2008 11:23 PM
    WOW that just makes me mad suing school for their logo??? They are not even in the same bussiness, even though schools are not a bussiness but rhater a key to knowledge. What apple is doing is ridiculous, they are going to take away money from school that are uses this money to educate children ? or is it apple's new strategy they want everyone to be dumb and just buy their products blindly??? seriously WTF APPLE ???
  • 6 Hide
    nukemaster , October 8, 2008 12:07 AM
    That is just sad. Now it makes me wish Cisco would have never agreed(after some legal fighting) to let apple use iPhone(Cisco's Internet Phone :) ) as a name since the company deserves NOTHING.

    Ohh and the "Apple" is not even the same shape. Guess I better watch out, Apple will be sueing me next for my iNuke sig image.

  • 4 Hide
    falchard , October 8, 2008 12:21 AM
    I would expect the judge to actually fine the lawyer for bringing up such a frivilous lawsuit.
  • 1 Hide
    adamk890 , October 8, 2008 1:05 AM
    What could possibly be the point of this lawsuit. If for nothing else but publicity why would you even WANT to sue a school. Seems a little ironic considering alot of students go mac instead of pc.
  • 5 Hide
    zenmaster , October 8, 2008 1:30 AM
    Why is everyone so surprised? Apple does not seem like a good citizen in the Cyber world....

    iTunes: Huge on DRM and making their songs non-playable elsewhere.
    Jobs claims he does nto like DRM, but takes no action to be DRM free like other sites.

    iPhone: Non-Replaceable battery to force people to buy new phones before the old ones break. FirmWare to allow the wiping off software from the device Apple does not approve of? Trying to restrict software to the AppleStore and only allow what they want there? OS: Coding it to specifically fail on machines w/o the Apple BIOS so they can overcharge for Hardware for the honor of running their OS? Trying to Wipe Apple Forum Posts when users report issues with their systems?

    I may not like Microsoft, but I certainly don't view Apple as a White night fighting an evil empire. They are simply two companies out to make every penny they can. It's capitalism. No more and no less.
  • 3 Hide
    San Pedro , October 8, 2008 1:42 AM
    It's now official, not only do I hate itunes I now hate apple. What a lame move by this mega corporation against a tiny college in Canada. The college is probably going to have to step down because they can't afford to fight the lawsuit.
  • 4 Hide
    The_Blood_Raven , October 8, 2008 1:56 AM
    To sue a school for this is disgusting. The apple does not have bite taken out of it, is colored, has the school's NAME on it, and is even a different shape of an apple! For this among many things I will NEVER buy an Apple product ever again. F*** you Apple!
  • 3 Hide
    Hellbound , October 8, 2008 2:14 AM
    Next Apple will sue and try to change the name of the real fruit. We will soon see apples no longer called apples........
  • 1 Hide
    wavebossa , October 8, 2008 2:15 AM
    What.... The..... FUCK!!!!

    Are apple lawyers blind??? They don't even look the same!
  • 1 Hide
    the associate , October 8, 2008 2:21 AM
    I completely agree with you The_Blood_Raven, and support your decision to the fullest.

    I as well will never buy an apple product in my life, even if the competitors product is uglier, technologically inferior, crapier in every way and more expensive. I already felt this way, this just provokes me further to disgust this corporation of filth even more so.

    Their probably just trying to cope up with some cash from being sued for false advertisement for the iphone 3g...

    For people who support the school, a little thing they set up as a vote :)
  • 1 Hide
    Anonymous , October 8, 2008 3:02 AM
    why would you sue a school?

    the school logo has colors in it

    its whole apple, not bitten

    and it looks wider

    cmon apple wow you are going below belt with this sue school to get moneyz....tsk tsk!

  • 3 Hide
    wahdangun , October 8, 2008 3:04 AM
    yeah, i will never ever ever ever... ever buy any apple product. let's all boicot apple product.

    and i hope apple get sued by apple corp. again
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