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April 4th, 2008, 08:28 PM
April 4, 2008, 4:40 pm

It’s Like Comparing Apples to Apples

By Jennifer 8. Lee (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/jlee/)

If If a logo for a computer company or an environmental campaign looks like an apple, is it an apple?

When word came out on Thursday about Apple’s legal challenge (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=aS6kWpRRWe9U&refer=us) to the seemingly innocuous GreenNYC logo, claiming that the looped green apple would cause “consumer confusion resulting in damage and injury” to Apple, and will “cause dilution of the distinctiveness” of Apple’s trademark, the first thought around City Room was: They’ve got to be kidding.

To be honest, it seems unlikely the GreeNYC campaign (http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/greenyc/greenyc.shtml) nor its apple would have drawn much public attention until it became the subject of a legal dispute with a multinational Fortune 500 company.

Indeed, we haven’t heard people gushing with praise for the logo as it appeared appeared on the Whole Foods bag, (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/04/01/green-bagging-it-for-1199-it-comes-in-cotton/index.html?ex=1364788800&en=eed58d50587823ba&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss) nor its funky Partridge Family bird (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/06/25/an-uncanny-avian-resemblance/) nor its continued use of the cutesy suffix (GreeNYC, PlaNYC).

But now we have a news story, so City Room intends to make the most of it.
The GreeNYC campaign filed its application for its logo with the United States Patent and Trade Office (http://www.uspto.gov/) in May 2007, while Apple’s opposition was filed four months later, on Sept. 18. Next step, apparently, is to commission independent surveys, known as mall-stop surveys, to see if people really are confused between the two apples.

Let’s see why they wouldn’t be.

The Apple logo has a bite out of it. The GreeNYC logo is pleasantly round, no bite.
The Apple logo, once in rainbow (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Apple_Computer_Logo.svg), has now been sliding out in the black-white spectrum (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Apple-logo.png) over the last 10 years. The GreeNYC logo is, well, green.
(This one is less important). Apple logo has just a leaf (right facing). The GreeNYC logo has a leaf (left-facing) and a stem.
The Apple logo encourages people to drop hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on electronic gadgets they may or may not need (more energy consumption). GreeNYC apple will be used to encourage people to walk, bike and unplug appliances when not in use (http://www.nyc.gov/html/planyc2030/html/greenyc/greenyc.shtml) (less energy consumption).The two logos have more differences than a Granny Smith (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Applecorps.jpg) and a Red Delicious. They are nowhere as similar as, oh say, “iPhone” to “iPhone” (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/technology/11apple.html) (from Cisco’s perspective) or Apple to Apple (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D01E3DA113BF930A2575AC0A9659C8B 63) (from the Beatles’ perspective (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/05/AR2007020501387.html)).

And let’s leave the Apple Bank (http://www.theapplebank.com/html/index-2.html) out of it, for now.

If anything, the Beatles’ Granny Smith logo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Applecorps.jpg) is more akin to the GreenNYC logo: at least it’s both green and round.

We’re not sure if Apple believes its potential customers are really that easily confused.

And New York has a longstanding claim on the apple — one that stretches decades before Steve Jobs (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/steven_p_jobs/index.html) was even born.

As the cultural etymologist Barry Popik points out, the term, “the Big Apple” was being used in the 1920s (http://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/summary_why_is_new_york_called_the_big_apple/) in a newspaper column, having grown out of a reference by stablehands in New Orleans.

Apple seems particularly in a particularly litigious mood. It sounds as if the company might sue actual apples if it could. Perhaps its lawyers would even sue this boy, claiming misappropriation of their logo for his birthmark? (http://www.flickr.com/photos/50181590@N00/144300100/)

Copyright 2008 The New York Times.

April 7th, 2008, 09:56 AM
Maybe this is one reason I do not like buying Macs! ;)

April 7th, 2008, 10:02 AM
Then again... apples have been around (and often as a simbol of plenty/goodness/freshness) a long time. How can someone claim them as their proprietary logo beyond an identical repoduction??

BTW, what IS the etymology of NYC beign called the big apple. Why an apple? Why not a bagel? ;)

April 7th, 2008, 08:40 PM
^^Here you go Luca, whole article from Wikipedia about it. Enjoy :)


April 9th, 2008, 07:43 AM
Thanks JC dude.

I've got to say that Wiki is becoming an increasingly useful resource.