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The Courts Australia Your Rights Online Apple

Apple Loses Aussie Trademark Complaint Over "i" Name 177

Posted by timothy
from the but-maybe-only-at-the-end dept.
CuteSteveJobs writes "Apple has been dealt a severe blow having been told that it no longer has a monopoly on the letter 'i' for product naming. IP Australia, the government body that oversees trademark applications, rejected Apple's complaint against a company selling 'DOPi' laptop bags. Last year Australian computer company Macpro Computers claimed that after 26 years of flying its own Macpro brand that Apple was 'trying to burn us out' with legal fees. This was after Apple released its own Macpro line 3½ years ago. Apple lost that complaint, but is appealing. Last year Apple went after supermarket Woolworths complaining their new logo which featured a 'W' fashioned into the shape of an apple. (Woolworths sells real apples.)"
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Apple Loses Aussie Trademark Complaint Over "i" Name

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  • iFirst (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2010 @12:53AM (#31461882)

    This post has been taken to court by Apple due to violations regarding the iFirst.

    • Re:iFirst (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:07AM (#31461966) Journal

      It's weird Apple even cries over such, especially when other companies have been using similar names for years. Adding an i before a word in name, what an invention. iPad [wikipedia.org] has the same story too, and then Apple just came along and took it. There's even a hand-held device Fujitsu iPAD [wikipedia.org] from 2002.

      Apple doesn't care about other peoples names but then cries over some company that has been using Macpro name for over 25 years before Apple. Just like they didn't care about Nokia's patents but instantly cries when someone even considers anything close to Apple's patents. If Apple were a person he would be a total douche, but of course we again see some Apple fanboys coming to defend this douchebag.

      • Re:iFirst (Score:4, Insightful)

        by value_added (719364) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:31AM (#31462074)

        If Apple were a person he would be a total douche, but of course we again see some Apple fanboys coming to defend this douchebag.

        What I didn't know and was surprised to learn was the following:

        Apple [has a] market capitalisation of close to $US200 billion, making it the fourth largest publicly traded American company

        If Apple's a douchebag, then it's a Really Big Douchebag. On the other hand, with only a handful of consumer products from which they seem to make most of their money, it shouldn't be surprising to anyone that they'd be so aggressive at protecting their names and associations in the mind of consumers. Or from a pure business sense, faulted for doing so.

        Good business sense or not, I'd agree they qualify as a douchebag. But then, so do the Beatles (for some, purveyors of simililary overrated products) for suing Apple way back when.

        • Re:iFirst (Score:5, Informative)

          by daath93 (1356187) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @03:14AM (#31462462)
          In what universe is apple the fourth largest publicly traded American company? The Forbes Global 2000 [forbes.com] has them ranked at 113 (behind many many American companies) with about 4.86 billion in profits and a total market value of 79.54 billion. Even Microsoft is only ranked 49th with 3 times the profits and market value.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by evanspw (872471)

            Market capitaization. ie, it's stock price multiplied by the number of share on issue.

            There's no "one" way to measure a company's size. The Forbes article is horrendously out of date on market cap. Apple is the clear #2 tech stock now behind microsoft. I think at the moment, the order goes Exxon, Microsoft, PetroChina, then Apple.

            It's really big, and the fact that its price to earnings ratio is much higher than any other really huge company means the market thinks its profits are fairly safe, with more upsi

        • Re:iFirst (Score:5, Informative)

          by hanabal (717731) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @03:43AM (#31462560)

          the beatles saga was another case of Apples douchiness actually. The Beatles record label was called apple records a subsidiary or Apple Corps, they had a trademark and everything. Along comes apple computers and they struck a deal, signed and everything, as long as apple computers stays out of the music game its all good. This is pretty much standard for trademarks, the idea is that if anyone hears the name apple associated with music they will think of The Beatles. for pretty much any trademark the rules are stay out of the same market and you can use the same name. All good so far. Then apple computers starts selling ipods and itunes, hey wait a sec they said they weren't going to do that. This is why the beatles sued, and rightfully so.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by hakey (1227664)
          I was also surprised by that, so I looked it up. As of the end of Friday trading, they just edged out Wal-Mart for number 3.

          US companies by Market Cap:
          Exxon Mobil 315.38B
          Microsoft 256.45B
          Apple 205.57B
          Wal-Mart 205.37B
          Berkshire Hathaway 203.20B
          Google 184.28B
          Procter & Gamble 183.92B
          General Electric 181.81B
          Johnson & Johnson 176.62B
        • But then, so do the Beatles (for some, purveyors of simililary overrated products) for suing Apple way back when.

          I thought it was Apple Music, which held the rights to most of the Beatles music, that sued Apple Computer. Not they're any less dicks, but I don't know if the Beatles themselves were behind that.

      • Re:iFirst (Score:5, Funny)

        by Jazz-Masta (240659) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:48AM (#31462144)

        If Apple were a person he would be a total douche

        He'd also be wearing a turtleneck, have a starbucks double half-calf-frappa-moccha-chino, goatee, and thick black-rimmed glasses.

        Oh yeah, and a liberal arts degree.

        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          He'd also be wearing a turtleneck, have a starbucks double half-calf-frappa-moccha-chino, goatee, and thick black-rimmed glasses.

          Oh yeah, and a liberal arts degree.

          I imagine this particular brand of trademark iDouchebaggery comes from the business school graduates hired by Apple's king-of-mock-turtlenecks.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by DMUTPeregrine (612791)
          Well, of course. We already said he'd be a total douche.
        • If Apple were a person he would be a total douche

          He'd also be wearing a turtleneck, have a starbucks double half-calf-frappa-moccha-chino, goatee, and thick black-rimmed glasses.

          Oh yeah, and a liberal arts degree.

          I hope you mean half CAF or CAFE. Whether he's a douche maybe up for debate but whether he takes half a cow (even a small one) in his coffee isn't!

        • by Stele (9443)

          have a starbucks double half-calf-frappa-moccha-chino

          Is that the one made with calf's milk or veal?

      • Apple doesn't care about other peoples names but then cries over some company that has been using Macpro name for over 25 years before Apple.

        It's trademark law, they're supposed to. You're trying to attribute hypocrisy to a situation that's actually created by the system.

      • by symes (835608)
        When I first came across the Apple Mac I remember thinking how strange it was to name something after a coat [wikipedia.org]
      • Apple doesn't care about other peoples names but then cries over some company

        I don't think Apple is crying, it's cold, hard business action. They know the rules of the game, and they are willing to stretch them to the limits of what they can. Sometimes they lose, and that's ok, it's part of the game. But there's no crying.

      • >Apple doesn't care about other peoples names but then cries over some company that has been using Macpro name for over 25 years before Apple.

        Where is the surprise here? They want what's best for them whichever side of the argument they're on. People are generally like this, and corporations are known to be even less even-handed than people.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        If Apple were a person he would be a total douche, but of course we again see some Apple fanboys coming to defend this douchebag.

        Apple is a person, according to the Supreme Court. And not just a person, but an aristocrat with rights and no responsibilites. And, just like every other company, Apple is a complete sociopath.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:06AM (#31461950)

    ...but if Apple was as big as Microsoft is now and had the same legal attitude, the legal climate in computing would look even far worse than it does now.

    • by Das Auge (597142)
      I incorrectly modded it down. So, here's me undoing it.
  • by creimer (824291) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:06AM (#31461954) Homepage
    The local grocery store in Silicon Valley has four organic apples in a hermetically sealed plastic box with a sticker on top to win a real skateboard [wikipedia.org] for $3 USD. This is something that Steve Jobs would've come up with, although the skateboard would've been Steve Wozniak's idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, you linked to a wikipedia article about skateboard. I hope we aren't that nerdy here on /. Some of you must have played Tony Hawk games, right?

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        Well, some of us did get a little confused when they talked about Woolworth's [wikipedia.org] selling apples, so I could easily see people thinking "get off my lawn" about the skateboard thing, too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by makomk (752139)

          Well, they would do, since outside of New Zealand and Australia Woolworths refers to an entirely unrelated chain of stores that sells totally different things...

      • by creimer (824291)
        How many of you basement dwellers on /. stepped out into the big blue room to ride a skateboard? C'mon, raise your hands. That's what I thought. :P
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:07AM (#31461958)

    They told the Australian court that the country would have to change its name to Australya.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tim99 (984437)

      They told the Australian court that the country would have to change its name to Australya.

      Not needed -Us locals already call our country 'Stralya.

  • Bad summary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by curmi (205804) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:07AM (#31461968)

    It seems clear, avoiding the anti-Apple stance of the article and the summary, that Apple went after someone for infringing on "iPod", which is "DOPi" backwards. They didn't go after them for using iSomething. This looked like an infringement of their existing trademark, but they didn't win.

    Nothing to see here. Move along.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ClosedSource (238333)

      Yes, I'm sure consumers were fooled into thinking that a DOPi was really an iPod because of the similar size and shape and the fact that they both start out empty.

      • by ChunderDownunder (709234) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:44AM (#31462130)

        Still, buying a product pronounced "dopey" sums up Apple's customers aptly! :)

      • by jo_ham (604554)

        Whether it is a good idea or not, or if people will be fooled is irrelevant. Trademark law is such that you must defend your trademarks lest they become generic.

        If in some later iPod trademark case that it much more blatant (say someone releases a music player called the iP0d, with a 0 instead of an o) and they take that to court, the defence can look back at past situations and argue that Apple has not been defending the mark, thus it has a case for being generic.

        See: kleenex, Xerox, Hoover, Zamboni.

        They k

        • > ...if people will be fooled is irrelevant.

          Perhaps in Australia, but in the USA it is the essence of trademark.

          > They know that no one is going to confuse this with an actual Apple product,
          > but they have to protect the trademark.

          If no one is going to confuse this with an actual Apple product the trademark is not threatened.

          • by jo_ham (604554)

            Except that the word is iPod spelled backwards, very deliberately. Even if it is obvious that it can't be confused, it is something they have to take beyond a polite letter of annoyance.

    • by t0p (1154575)
      So Apple argued: "Our customers will see the DOPi bag and think 'Hey that's iPod backwards! I'd better buy an official iPod-backwards bag to put my laptop in. Even though my laptop isn't called "iPod"'..." Of course, Apple's attack-lawyers would have worded it better.
    • The article summary also said that Apple sells a "Macpro" computer. They don't. The computer's name is Mac Pro. I don't think the litigation regarding the store name is ethical tough.

      Apple doesn't seem to go after iAnything unless it's more similar to one of their product names than that, for example. They didn't try stopping Cisco's iPhone before they had their own product, and later made a deal to use the name in the US. I wish Apple would give up the "i" naming system though, it's starting to wear t

      • by einhverfr (238914)

        They didn't try stopping Cisco's iPhone before they had their own product, and later made a deal to use the name in the US. I wish Apple would give up the "i" naming system though, it's starting to wear thin on me and strikes me as being unimaginative, lame and starting to feel stupid on an "Idiocracy" level.

        See, but this is what's wrong with this whole picture. You admit that Cisco had the "iPhone" product first, presumably had some sort of registered trademark on it, etc. Along comes Apple and tries to

    • by Duradin (1261418)

      Well, at least one person read the summary before going into FROTH_AT_THE_MOUTH mode...

      Now all we need is for some company to do something with lleD, utnubU, etc., etc. since those trademarks are obviously available and are OK to use by most of these posters' statements.

  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:08AM (#31461974)
    when the ruling was headlined iDon'tThinkSo.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    and said "iTold you so".

    Ugh, I just died a little inside (Pun Allergy).

  • by mjwx (966435) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:11AM (#31461988)
    First AFACT (Australia's RIAA) lose and courts clearly state that ISP's are not responsible for policing their users now they have the audacity to claim Apple has no right to destroy other companies over vague allusions to product names or names they have been using for 20 years.

    Preposterous I say, this simply cannot stand, as an Australian I demand that our legal system be fixed so that innocent mega-corporations can no longer be inconvenienced by our clearly erroneous laws.
  • by hellop2 (1271166) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:12AM (#31461998)
    Apple didn't invent the 'i' concept anyways. The 'i' comes from "Internet" because we called it the "iNet" back in the BBS days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hellop2 (1271166)
      Or "inet" or even more common, "Inet" which some BBSers insisted upon, because the word "Internet" was considered a proper noun.

      Here is an article from 1995 from the ACM: http://www.acm.org/crossroads/xrds2-1/inet-history.html. [acm.org]

      It's an article on Internet History. Notice the filename contains the word "inet" meaning "Internet".

      Was Apple's first use of the "i" trademark before 1995?
    • by t0p (1154575)

      And I remember when Ford made the Escort XR3i. That was in the 1980s, I believe, which clearly precedes Apple's use of the letter "i".

      Anyway, what makes Apple think they own the right to use a letter of the alphabet? They gonna go after the Eskimos for branding their ice-houses as iGloos?

      • And I remember when Ford made the Escort XR3i. That was in the 1980s, I believe, which clearly precedes Apple's use of the letter "i".

        The most obvious automotive example would be BMW, you has appended an "i" for "injected" after (almost) all of their models for a very long time. The first BMW to use a 3digit + i name was the 520i in 1972.

  • by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:13AM (#31462008)
    There's an app for that.
  • The world. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2010 @01:46AM (#31462136)

    Powered by 26 letters, and therefore a maximum of 26 companies.

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday March 13, 2010 @02:22AM (#31462282)

    Frank Herbert, the author of "Dune" wrote a couple of novels set in a universe where lawyers who chose to fight a case literally had to fight it...and die if they lost. "Whipping Star" was one of them.

    I think he was onto something. I, for one, would pay big money to see lawyers die.

    • by timmarhy (659436) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @03:21AM (#31462502)
      gates vs jobs. gates would surely win by strangling jobs with his stupid turtle neck.
    • by flonker (526111)

      The problem being, of course, some people wouldn't get representation and would end up being steamrolled. A more fair approach would be that only the lawyer bringing the case would need to win it or die trying.

    • by Tim C (15259)

      Well that would certainly get rid of lawyers; then who would defence the innocent?

      • by t0p (1154575)
        The same people who currently defend the innocent. Spider-Man. Or the Batman, depending on your religion.
    • I think he was onto something. I, for one, would pay big money to see lawyers die.

      You lie. You would just download the video coverage with bit torrent. Piracy is hurting the legal system.

  • by tgv (254536) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @02:25AM (#31462294) Journal

    IF anyone has a right to complain, it's the Zulus. In kwaZulu (their language), an i- is prefixed to any loan word, and the following word is then capitalized. So radio in kwaZulu would be: iRadio. Looks familiar?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    In a severe blow to food naming conventions Mother Nature has lost her bid to retain the name "Apple" for the fruit of the same name. In a compromise Apple is allowing Mother Nature to have their unused trademark iSlate for all apple type fruits. This is seen as a victory for the US and Mom's iSlate pie!

  • Oh the irony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plusser (685253) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @04:42AM (#31462740)

    When talking of trademarks, the Australian Woothworths company actually had absolutely nothing to do with the FW Woolworth company and its famous US and UK stores (and apparently stores in other countries that are still trading under the Woolworths brand). One of the founders of the Australian company, Ernest Robert Williams, called the company Woolworths as part of a dare, only to find that FW Woolworth had not trademarked the name in Australia, therefore the trademark was deemed valid.

    This highlight the issue of trademarks. Even in a globalised society, a company cannot expect by implication that its trademark will automatically be protected across the world, without registering the trademark correctly. If it were, could Volkswagen sue Apple for the use of the "i" letter since the company first used the designation on the Golf GTi in 1975?

    Perhaps somebody could trademark the word iDIOT, to prevent situations like this from occurring.

    • It depends on the distinctiveness of the mark. Even unregistered trademarks can be protected if they are fanciful. So if you want to ensure your trademarks are safe, the best thing to do is make them fanciful.
      Adding an "i" on every word is neither original or destinctive so it's no wonder Apple has trouble defending iThings.

    • > If it were, could Volkswagen sue Apple for the use of the "i" letter since
      > the company first used the designation on the Golf GTi in 1975?

      Not in the USA. There would be no infringement.

  • Apple (Score:3, Funny)

    by blind biker (1066130) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @06:03AM (#31462986) Journal

    iLitigiousBastards

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by zuki (845560)
      In the spirit of trying to find a song for everything,
      all I can think of when reading this is : "iMe A River"....
  • How... (Score:5, Funny)

    by pandrijeczko (588093) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @06:52AM (#31463108)

    ... iLaughed.

  • iEvil (Score:3, Funny)

    by cpotoso (606303) on Saturday March 13, 2010 @02:25PM (#31465758) Journal
    Apple is iEvil.

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