When is a logo a rip off? Clearly, a logo is a rip off if it looks exactly the same, but how different does it have to be to avoid trademark or copyright infringement? That seems to be an issue that a small German café is having to answer. Apple recently sent a cease and desist letter to the owner of the café Apfelkind, Christin Römer.
According to LXnews and Geek.com, Römer has already filed a letter with Apple disputing the claim. The small family café whose name translates to “apple child”, provides a place where parents can relax over coffee and apple laden themed snacks. Their children can play in a nearby playroom that features painting giving parents a chance to unwind while their children are safely occupied.
This isn’t the first time that Apple has gone after supposed logo infringment. A Chinese food company experienced the same threat from Apple in September. Go Chengdoo reported that Sichuan Fangguo Food Co., Ltd. (四川方果食品有限公司) was cited by Apple for infringing on Apple’s logo by using “elements” from the apple and leaf iconic symbol.
Looking at all three logos it is difficult to see how anyone could mistake the other two logos for Apple’s.
Above are the Apfelkind, Sichuan Fagguo Food Co., Ltd. and Apple logos. If Apple finds the Apfelkind and Sichuan Fagguo logos confusing, the company needs both an eye exam and a reality check. Neither of the other two logos could be confused for an Apple branded logo.
Apflekind’s apple logo contains not a missing bite but a child’s head. The Sichuan Fagguo logo looks like a cross between a bomb and the LG logo with a missing quarter. Presumably, Apple finds the leaf to be an infringement.
Sadly, if Apple does continue to insist that both companies change their logos, Apple will likely win not on the merits but because of its deep pockets and access to teams of lawyers. Apfelkind simply would not be able to afford the lawyers needed to defend against Apple’s accusation.
Sichuan Fagguo might not even care since China has been remarkably lax in enforcing copyright and trademark infringement. Why worry when your court system probably won’t find that the logos look anything alike?
Now entering the fray are issues over the authenticity of a recent tribute to Steve Jobs that combines the Apple logo with a silhouette of the man himself. The logo has made the rounds of the internet. International Business Times reported that Hong Kong design student Jonathan Mak was not the first to create such a design. Mak has acknowledged that.
Justin.My actually provided a picture of the May 2011 logo that Raid71 aka Chris Thornley from Manchester, England designed. The logo is indeed extremely similar to Mak’s version. In an Andy Warholesque way they appear to be reverse images of each other. Below are Mak’s image on the left and Thornley’s image on the right.
So far Thornley hasn’t threatened to sue Mak. Mak has admitted that he was not the first to come up with Steve Job’s silhouette in the Apple logo design and is enduring the resulting publicity.
Apple’s quest to preserve the sanctity of their logo needs to take a step back and really look at the logos that they are attacking. Continuing after Apfelkind would only make the company appear to be a narcissistic bully. Not everyone is trying to copy what Apple does, nor should the company be so self aggrandizing as to think so.
Acknowledgements: Apfelkind logo from Lxnews. Sichuan Faguo Food Co, Ltd logo versus Apple logo from Go Chengdoo. Mak tribute logo from Neowin and Raid 71 aka Chris Thornley logo from Raid 71 website.