Apple Wants to Take Bite Out of Big Apple

Claims City's Environmental Logo Infringes on Trademark

By Published on . 17

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Apple is picking a fight with the Big Apple.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based computer company filed a formal complaint earlier this year with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office opposing an application by New York's official travel and tourism organization to trademark a "GreeNYC" logo featuring, you guessed it, an apple.
The logo in question graces limited-edition organic cotton bags being sold at Whole Foods.
The logo in question graces limited-edition organic cotton bags being sold at Whole Foods.

The tourism group, NYC & Co., began splashing the logo across the five boroughs last summer as part of a $3.2 million campaign urging New Yorkers to take steps to reduce pollution and greenhouse gases. Local agency Hunter Gatherer worked on the initial campaign, while subsequent efforts have been handled in-house.

Stylized logo design
The logo in question, which was created by Turf, New York, is a stylized apple resembling a figure eight turned on its side with a stalk and leaf. It has been at the forefront of the environmental push, appearing in print and TV, as well as on hybrid taxis and bus shelters.

At the moment, the logo is gracing limited-edition organic cotton bags being sold at Whole Foods. Through April 16, the bags can be purchased for $11.99 at 16 locations in the tri-state area.

Apple claims in its filing that the GreeNYC mark is "likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception in the minds of consumers." The claim also suggests that consumers would be likely to purchase products with the GreeNYC logo and associate them with Apple products.

"Any defect, objection or fault found with [GreeNYC's] goods and services marketed under [GreeNYC's] marks would necessarily reflect upon and seriously injure the reputation which [Apple] has established for its goods and services," the claim states.

Counterclaim
NYC & Co. responded with a counterclaim in late February asking that Apple's compalint be dismissed. That counterclaim asserts that Apple's trademarks are well recognized in relation only to computers and computer peripherals.

"We believe the 'infinity apple' design, and its mission to create environmental awareness are unique and distinctive and do not infringe upon the Apple Computer brand," said Kimberly Spell, senior VP-communications at NYC & Co.
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