Pears: the arch-goddess of the fruit pantheon, the inspiration of Cézanne, and to the untrained eye, dangerously similar to apples. As iPhone In Canada first reported, Apple has filed a notice of opposition against a meal planning app called Prepear for using a pear logo which is pear-shaped and pear-green. In a Change.org petition, Prepear lamented that, “Apple has opposed dozens of other trademark applications filed by small businesses with fruit related logos,” which have since been altered or replaced, because, “most small businesses cannot afford the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost to fight Apple.”
Apple thought of fruit in 1976, and you can’t have it back.
The Apple lawyers are fearsome, we know, and will battle government regulators no matter how long and arduous the path to victory. No fruit has escaped them: just over the past few months, they pursued apple-shaped diamond pendants, apple-flavored vape juice, and the Appleton, Wisconsin school district. They’ve tried to stop a digital music company attempting to brand itself as “Franki Pineapple” (the logo for which resembles a grenade), arguing that, “while the word ‘apple’ and ‘pineapple’ do not have the same meaning, they are both the names of fruits, and thus convey a similar commercial impression.”
In its notice of opposition against Prepear, Apple particularly takes issue with Prepear’s fruit-branded focus on health — exactly like Apple. “One of the categories highlighted on Apple’s Health app is Nutrition,” they offer, as one example, noting also that the Apple Watch monitors heart rates, and Apple provides software for healthcare providers. On top of consumers’ immediate association between Apple and health, Prepear’s pear, they argue, is likely to recall the Apple logo because just look at it.
“Applicant’s Mark consists of a minimalistic fruit design with a right-angled leaf, which readily calls to mind Apple’s famous Apple Logo and creates a similar commercial impression, as shown in the following side-by-side comparison:”
In short, the above pear is certain to baffle consumers. “The Apple Marks are so famous and instantly recognisable that the similarities in Applicant’s Mark will overshadow any differences and cause the ordinary consumer to believe that Applicant is related to, affiliated with or endorsed by Apple.” What if some disappointed consumer comes to Prepear to buy an overpriced laptop and leaves empty-handed? Think of the reputational damages!
It’s a leap for me, but after inspecting Apple’s long history of filings, one can imagine how Apple might be blinded by its own fruit. Last year, they reportedly filed an objection against Norway’s Progress Party for using an apple, against Banana Computer and Banana Mobile, and Pear Technologies, which also branded itself with a pear.
In their Change.org petition, Prepear, which claims to have only five staffers, says that the thousands of dollars wasted on litigation has already forced one layoff — but they’re not taking this lying down. “We feel a moral obligation to take a stand against Apple’s aggressive legal action against small businesses and fight for the right to keep our logo,” they write. “We are defending ourselves against Apple not only to keep our logo, but to send a message to big tech companies that bullying small businesses has consequences.” The Change.org petition, which currently has over 26,000 signatures, asks that Apple drop its “frivolous litigation” and “stop big tech companies from abusing their position of power by going after small businesses like ours who are already struggling due to the affects [sic] of Covid-19.”
Can you tell an apple from a pear?