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The Courts Businesses Apple Technology

Italian Clothing Company Defeats Apple, Wins the Right To Use Steve Jobs' Name (macrumors.com) 172

An Italian clothing company that uses the name "Steve Jobs" as its brand will be able to continue using the moniker after winning a multi-year legal battle, reports Italian site la Repubblica Napoli. Mac Rumors reports: Brothers Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato named their clothing brand "Steve Jobs" in 2012 after learning that Apple had not trademarked his name. "We did our market research and we noticed that Apple, one of the best known companies in the world, never thought about registering its founder's brand, so we decided to do it," the two told la Repubblica Napoli. The Barbatos designed a logo that resembles Apple's own, choosing the letter "J" with a bite taken out of the side. Apple, of course, sued the two brothers for using Jobs' name and a logo that mimics the Apple logo. In 2014, the European Union's Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of the Barbatos and rejected Apple's trademark opposition. While the outcome of the legal battle was decided in 2014, Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato have been unable to discuss the case until now, as their claim on the brand was not settled until 2017. The two told la Repubblica Napoli that Apple went after the logo, something that may have been a mistake. The Intellectual Property Office decided that the "J" logo that appears bitten was not infringing on Apple's own designs as a letter is not edible and thus the cutout in the letter cannot be perceived as a bite. The report goes on to note that the company plans to produce electronic devices under the Steve Jobs brand.
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Italian Clothing Company Defeats Apple, Wins the Right To Use Steve Jobs' Name

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  • That is one (Score:5, Insightful)

    by phalse phace ( 454635 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @07:26PM (#55825367)

    ugly logo

  • Bad legal decision (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 28, 2017 @07:34PM (#55825409)

    I'm not a fan of IP hoarding, but "Steve Jobs" implies that either Apple or Jobs (when he was alive) has something to do with the design of the Italian company's products.

    It's stupid that now Microsoft will have to trademark "Bill Gates" and "Satya Nadella", Amazon will trademark "Jeff Bezos", etc.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I agree, this is a cheap marketing stunt to imply that Jobs was somehow associated with their products. If the Italian company had a founder or designer named Steve Jobs, I'd support them using the name. However, that doesn't appear to be the case, in which case it's just a pathetic way to imply an endorsement or connection that doesn't exist.

    • by taustin ( 171655 )

      There is a difference. Jobs is dead, and in most jurisdictions, the right to control the use of one's name dies with the person. Everyone else mentioned is still alive, and can (and can afford to) sue on that basis.

      (This is not a comment on whether or not this was a good decision, but legally, it looks correct to me. Apple missed the boat, and it cost them.)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This company is trying to imply an association with Steve Jobs that simply doesn't exist. They are misleading consumers by using Steve Jobs' name as their brand, despite no connection with Jobs. Regardless of whether Apple has a trademark, this is exactly the type of situation that trademark law is intended to prevent. Businesses should not be able to deceive customers by implying an association with a brand (Apple; the bite out of the J) and a person that simply is not present.

      • Go label something "Walter Elias Disney widgets" and see how far you get.

    • by NicknameUnavailable ( 4134147 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @09:11PM (#55825823)

      I'm not a fan of IP hoarding, but "Steve Jobs" implies that either Apple or Jobs (when he was alive) has something to do with the design of the Italian company's products.

      If a marketing shill like Musk can denigrate the name of one of the greatest engineers of all time like Tesla then some Italians absolutely have the right to make bullshit under the name of a bullshit artist.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      I see from a WIPO search "Vincenzo Barbato" and "Giacomo Barbato" are up for grabs. These guys had balls pulling this off without first protecting their own names. If I was Apple, I'd be marketing the hell out of a line of Barbatos brothers branded soft toys based on emoji U+1F4A9, and license the brand out for free to every Chinese manufacturer that wants to copy. Imagine if every time they introduced themselves to someone the reply came back "You mean like the soft toy?".
    • I'd have thought the rights rested with the individual, or in this case, his estate. I guess not?
      • by vux984 ( 928602 )

        The rights to what exactly? The word salad that makes up his name?

        There are easily thousands of people with my first and last name wandering around. I certainly can't own it exclusively, nor should I be able to it.

        Even if Apple & Steve Jobs had trademarked his name, it would still be restricted to an industry etc. So even if they owned steve jobs brand in conjunction with computers in the united states, I could still register that trademark to sell fruit and herbal teas. Or I could still register it to

        • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

          That's all fine and good if your name is Steve Jobs. But if you're attempting to market something off of the back of the Steve Jobs that we all knew, that's simply fraudulent, and should not be allowed.

          I get the comparison someone else made regarding Tesla, and see the point, but I think it's pretty clear that Mr.Tesla wasn't backing the vehicles. Maybe put a time limit...like 25 years after the person passed away, the name becomes fair game. In the case of Jobs, it's just too soon.

          And, FWIW, I'm no fanb

  • Yeah, exactly NO-ONE can perceive a bite mark into the letter J in the name Steve Jobs as a BITE!

    Regardless of whatever we eat letters normally or not ..

    • by Xenx ( 2211586 )
      Especially when the letter J has an apple leaf.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by KingMotley ( 944240 )

      Yeah, another winning conclusion from the EU. Either the EU courts are just unbelievably stupid, or they believe the populace of the EU is stupid. Or as most suspect, the EU will just side against any American company no matter how stupid the argument.

      • by aliquis ( 678370 )

        Well we got Muslims and Africans now.

        We don't need the last bastion of freedom, Europeans and the west!

      • Maybe they heard bacon-faced Americans chanting 'American First!' and flipping the bird to the world, and decided that some 'Europe first' policies in return might be in order in retaliation.

        • by aliquis ( 678370 )

          Yeah I totally expect it from the US.

          It's just feel weird seeing how the EU act as such. Here in Sweden we would of course never do anything such but rather be the first one to volunteer to get butt raped by as many as possible because someone has to be the most extreme and that got to be us. .. and in three days we'll have the worlds highest taxes on gasoline. Just a continuation of our long tradition of being the most retarded progressives of the planet.

      • by Megol ( 3135005 )

        ... While you can continue thinking this is the case I'll try to explain things so that others (which have a brain) can understand. You however is of course free to be a bigoted clueless idiot.

        There are laws. Those laws include trademarks (at least due to international treaties ensuring that). Trademarks apply to a certain area of commerce. A registration is valid if 1) if passes local laws that limit some wording, reserved words that can cause confusion or is already in use 2) the word/phrase isn't already

        • There are laws.

          A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.

          Source: https://www.uspto.gov/trademar... [uspto.gov]

          The article is about how apple tried to keep some clothing manufacturers from using "Steve Jobs" as a clothing line with a capital J with an apple stem stuck on the top of it that is the exact same style and relative size and position of the apple logo. The logo (the J) also has what appears to be a bite taken out the right hand side in the same style and shape is apple's logo.

          A 2-year old would say that a shirt with that brand (Steve J Jobs) with the

      • Just let nature take its course and wait until the company goes bankrupt on its own.

        I personally do not think there is any danger of a consumer accidentally buying a Steve J Jobs Tablet instead of an iPad.

  • The J with the ash on the end cannot infringe on Paul Simon because clearly no-one could smoke a J [azlyrics.com]
  • erm (Score:2, Insightful)

    They admit that they deliberately used his name and his popularity related to Apple. They admit that the logo mimics the Apple logo.

    So, it's good that they won via fraud?

    • Your premises do not lead to your conclusion.

    • It will be interesting to see what happens if they ever market in the US. The US concern about trademarks will I suspect take a much dimmer view of this.
    • Re:erm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @10:13PM (#55826041)

      So, it's good that they won via fraud?

      I'm not sure what they lied to the court about? When you admit something, thats sort of the opposite to lying, and fraud requires that you lie about something.

      Regardless, this whole thing is about trying to get a payout out of apple. At some point apple is going to offer a big fat old payday to them to give up wth name. That, I suspect, is the end goal.

      • The logo skirts "lying" to the consumer that they are an "Apple Authorized" clothing manufacturer for Apple Computer or at least Steve Jobs. At least that is how it would come across if they distributed the clothing in the USA, or to US tourists.
      • by Tom ( 822 )

        Or Apple could partner with on of its chinese suppliers, who also runs a clothes factory, and produce knock-off products, just a little bit cheaper, until the Italiens run out of money.

    • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

      "We're dicks, but it's legal" is not fraud, it is the sort of semantic game Apple plays all the time with their own patent portfolio. Like any game, they're going to lose at least occasionally, else it's not much of a game. This time, they got out-lawyered. Nothing of any real significance happened to anyone outside of the two companies in question.

      Outright forgery of a brand is a crime. Making sly references to a brand is not. Putting Gibson headstocks on Epiphones and selling them out the back door of the

      • I think this hits a little to close than "second or third derivative".

        "We're dicks, but it is legal.", Ironically, I think such a move strengthens the Apple brand at the cost of some profit. The P.R. from this lawsuit might be worth more than any profit from Apple Computer attempting to sell clothes on its own. It might also be good for "Steve Jobs" clothing, as such a bold and in your face move fits the Apple motif they are trying to connect with. This whole thing could merely be a PR stunt intended to
        • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

          I figured this was more a case of the Steve Jobs side saying "Apple let this one slip through the cracks, now they have to buy us if they want to get rid of us". Will Apple take the bait? I suppose that depends on how much the asset is really worth to them.

    • What Fraud? being arseholes is perfectly legal, if it wasn't then Apple would not exist today.
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      I agree, it's misleading for consumers. Judge should throw the iBook at them.

    • So, it's good that they won via fraud?

      You think that capitalising on popularity is fraud? You could learn something from the Dutch. They are very direct people and it would be far less confusing to others if you simply wrote: "Everyone I don't know what fraud is!"

  • What about Apple Jeans [ibb.co]?
    • That IS the official Apple Computer logo. Either those jeans are officially licensed, or are custom made. If not licensed and distributed, that would be in violation of copyright.

      Those have nothing to do with "Apple Bottom" jeans, which do not use the Apple Computer logo, and are clearly distinguishable as a separate product.
  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Thursday December 28, 2017 @09:39PM (#55825921)
    Apple should rename itself to "Steve Wozniak" in retaliation.
    • The "Woz" invented the Apple. All hail the "Woz"! Steve Jobs was just an opportunistic penis_with_ears that slapped a logo on it and made a fortune. The fact that Jobs' name is being used by other johnsoncraniums to make money is nothing more than poetic justice.
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdf l a t . com> on Thursday December 28, 2017 @10:44PM (#55826157) Journal

    If nobody can really perceive it as something with a bite mark, then why would anyone use the terms "appears bitten" to describe it?

    Clearly it can be perceived as a bite mark, even if what is being depicted cannot be eaten.

  • I will not pretend to have any particular knowledge of applicable rules/laws, not even for my own country. However, I wonder if selling electronic devices (which Apple is well known for) might result in a different decision? And certainly, if they attempt to sell outside of the EU (*cough*America*cough*), I imagine Apple consider pursuing similar cases in attempts to forbid the import/sale.
    • I think the logo might be a bigger issue here. It implies a connection to Apple Computer.

      Apple Computer's reputation suggests that a partnership with a clothing manufacturer is a logical next step, and "Steve Jobs" with that "J" logo is a logical name for the brand.

      A third party using that logo when making knock-offs would likely clearly be a third party making knock-offs. A court might let the logo slide. The name however, in combination with the logo, implies a connection to Apple Computer. The combi
  • by Picodon ( 4937267 ) on Friday December 29, 2017 @01:54AM (#55826679)

    Creating a brand name (and a logo) is one thing. Running a successful company, selling desirable products, is another. Given the large percentage of companies that fail, and given how crowded the clothing market is, they will probably soon disappear after this ephemeral hour of stolen glory, at which point Apple will probably be quick to snatch back the trademark. Not that Apple should own it, really. Jobs’ family should.

  • In trying to use any Apple Products and apps in the future, I'm sure Apple will have no problem making sure all your iPhones, transactions and customers work just fine...

  • Usually smaller companies tend to have my support, but in this case it appears that those brothers used a blatant loophole to steal a chunk off somebody's image, and they don't even sell those polos.
  • by iTrawl ( 4142459 ) on Friday December 29, 2017 @05:25AM (#55827215)

    Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato

  • I'll never buy anything with that brand on it or associated with that brand or the people involved in the lawsuit.

    I'd like to see more name & shame news articles for sleezy business and politics.

  • It would have been a lot cheaper to do what they probably wanted Apple to do, and just buy the brand off them. "the company plans to produce electronic devices under the Steve Jobs brand" I'll bet they do, it's a really good way of incentivizing a high number purchase offer.
  • I'm almost certain they just did this to be edgy...
  • Few people in the general public know who Steve Jobs was.
  • There's only one product it makes sense for them to sell: black turtlenecks. Everything else is ironic.

  • I fail to see how registering some famous person name who is not related to your company is even possible. We are not talking about someone who has been dead for so long there are not any living relatives, Steve Jobs died a few years ago. So now any company in the world will have to register all its famous members names, lest someone register it first? Ridiculous. And for the record, I strongly dislike Apple, and I'm European myself, but I think in this case they were right.
  • Apple has nothing to say.

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