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The Apple Name Game

CmdrTaco posted more than 11 years ago | from the get-over-it dept.

Apple 286

Apple Core sent a link to an article running in Australia about Apple fighting for their name with some little telco called Apple Communications. Well, they were called that. Now they are Green.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

frist psot (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787427)

heard about apple comms, knew this would happen (haw, haw).

is it just me... (1)

koko775 (617640) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787431)

or are PC _and_ Mac manufacturers getting more anal by the day? First Phoenix and now this.

Re:is it just me... (2)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787446)

Don't forget microsoft making everyone remove 'windows' from its name too :)

Re:is it just me... (4, Insightful)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787460)

MS is trying to get software manufacturers to stop using "Windows". Apple is going after completely unrelated businesses. Big difference.

Re:is it just me... (2, Interesting)

rikkards (98006) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787633)

It is unrelated but it is related. There are different categories of Trademarks i.e cosmetics, food, etc.
I think there are something like 7 categories. see http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/tac/doc/basic/int ernational.htm for list of categories

MS can try to get people to stop but because Windows is considered a generic term they can't trademark it so they are more or less blowing smoke.

With Apple the computer company and Apple Communications there is a potential that Apple Communications will be mistaken as being a part of Apple the computer company which could besmirch the name of Apple probably under category 35.

Since Australia is part of WIPO they follow the same rules regarding patents and trademarks as the US.

No I am not an IP lawyer but I did IT support for a company (who btw had 60 NT workstations and only had enough licenses for 5)so I may be off but this is what I picked up.

NO, JUST MAC USERS. THEY GET LOADS OF ANAL. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787479)

Re:is it just me... (2, Insightful)

rikkards (98006) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787549)

From what I gather if you have a trademark and don't fight infringements you lose the trademark. I can understand why companies do sue over trademark infringements especially if they have put a lot of money into it.

Well... (5, Insightful)

Lshmael (603746) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787437)

I know at least one person is going to bash me for this, but if you were founding a company, wouldn't you try to come up with an original name? I mean, there are a telecommunications company, so it is possible that they could be mistaken for Apple.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787471)

I agree. Why would Apple Computer pick the name of a common fruit, and then harass others about their stupid choice?

The original Apple (3, Interesting)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787483)

Wasn't Apple Records the original "Apple." The Beatles became important enough to have their own record label (apart from their own stuff, that "Those were the days, my friend" song was the only thing they came out with). I suppose the name "Apple" was this kind of Beatles, perhaps John Lennon thing: never explained but meant to suggest getting back to nature or to first principles as in the apple in the Garden of Eden.

Harry Shearer and Eric Idles "Ruttles" had a record label named "Banana" as documented in "All You Need is Cash." Gosh I wish they should show that satire-special again -- it was such a hoot and one is sure to pick up more of the jokes a second time around.

I am hard pressed that if there wasn't an Apple record label with all of the feel-good associated with the Beatles that Jobs and Woz would have called their computer something else. Why do you suppose Apple Computer got a free ride? Yes, a computer company and a record label (at least at the time) were completely different businesses, but Jobs would be coy to suggest that his Apple had no connection to the Beatles Apple and that he wasn't trying to make a connection in people's minds.

Re:The original Apple (2)

Mac Degger (576336) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787505)

Actually, Apple computers was named that for entirely different reasons. Jobs wondered into the meeting where they were going to figure out a name for the company and plonked an apple on the table. Then he said that if they hadn't got a name everybody agreed on after two hours, they'd call it fater the apple. So guess what happened.

Hippy name for hippy product (2)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787534)

P. J. O'Rourke talks about working of a newspaper names "Harry" in his hippy days. The name had similar origins, and it probably seemed so profound when enough Cannabis Sativa was smoked. Calling any kind of non-food product "Apple" for no obvious reason is such a hippy thing, for the reasons I mentioned earlier, and so you are trying to tell me that two groups of hippy business people came up with "Apple" independently? That a hippy like Jobs (he is all business suits nowadays, but try and tell me that Jobs was such a geek he had no connection to the popular culture) never heard of Apple Records.

You may be right, but your tale may be a cover story told by Jobs.

Re:The original Apple (4, Funny)

david duncan scott (206421) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787575)

I guess you've forgotten, but Apple also released some James Taylor, Badfinger, Ravi Shankar, Jackie Lomax, and the Modern Jazz Quartet, as well as, yes, Mary Hopkin.

As for naming the computer company, well, this was the year when "Kentucky Fried Computer" seemed like a reasonable name, as did "Dr. Dobb's Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia". Maybe it was the Bicentennial fever which gripped us all...

Re:The original Apple (5, Interesting)

nullard (541520) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787603)

Don't forget, Apple Computer was sued by Apple Records over their name. Only when Apple Computer promissed never to enter the recording business were they allowed to keep the name. When the first Macintosh with a microphone shipped, they added a new system alert sound called sosumi. So sue me.

It's harder than you might think. (5, Interesting)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787485)

Just about anything you can easily think of in English is bound to be claimed by someone out there. One-off attempts such as using a generic name appended to another generic name (X-Windows, Apple Telecommunications) are obviously coming under fire by the folks who own the generic names. Even making up something off the top of your head can open you to misfortune [altriahealthcare.com] , because there are that many businesses out there.

Zlnasdng Telecommunications? Possible, but it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue...

Name making business's (5, Interesting)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787539)

A lot of large companies will higher a consulting firm to come up with a name for them.

NPR had a story [npr.org] about this a couple months ago about how hard it is to come up with a company name now adays. The main problem, as already stated, is that most english words are already taken. So actually finding a meaningful word or combination of words is really really hard.

When there are no real words left, the firm then gets to make up a word that brings out the values of the company, while not sounding to outlandish. It's actually rather interesting how random sounds put together can make someone thing a particular thing when it has no real basis in english. I'm guessing it's based a lot on roots and prefix's used in english.

All in all though, such a firm should be responsible for making sure the name is not already taken.

Re:Well... (1)

botzilla (630334) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787489)

Not only possible, but quite probable, too. Most of the people everywhere wouldn't have any idea of which is the Big A. So I think this is an acceptable act from Apple. Otherwise there'd be a lot of people sending emails, phoning, faxing etc. to the wrong firm.

Re:Well... (3, Insightful)

uberdood (154108) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787498)

Did you read the article? Did your moderator read the article?

Originally from Hong Kong, he started Apple three years ago to challenge mobile phone company Orange.

Of course, the amusing thing about this is there used to be an Apple ][ clone called "Orange".

It wouldn't be too long before... (3, Funny)

Vexler (127353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787438)

...all the grocery stands, supermarkets, and open-air markets would have to pay the Big A for using their name on all the produce tags.

Re:It wouldn't be too long before... (2)

tmark (230091) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787543)

Actually, the article specifically indicates that fruiterers are excepted from the scope of Apple's trademarks.

But what about a company called "Apple Clothing" ? Or "Apple Tampons" ? Should these too be subject to litigation by Apple Computer at their whim ?

Re:It wouldn't be too long before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787544)

No, they never will. That has already been established as acceptable by courts, so there would be no need to pay royalties to Apple unless Apple decides to start selling fruit.

sheesh... (4, Funny)

skydude_20 (307538) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787441)

People fighting over generic names of fruits, whats next?!? people fighting over generic names of holes, like windows???

Re:sheesh... (4, Insightful)

thegrommit (13025) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787454)

What's funny is that Apple Computer had to cut a deal with the Beatles record (called Apple) to keep their name.

Re:sheesh... (3, Informative)

thegrommit (13025) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787463)

I of course meant the Beatles record label - Apple Corp. (Must remember to use preview).

Check the dictionary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787560)

iHypocrite, n. (i-hip-o-krit)

One who energetically defends something they have stolen, purporting they have created it.
See also: www.apple.com/osx and www.microsoft.com for further reference.

Re:sheesh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787520)

A link to this article can be found here [slashdot.org]

Wow... worse than MS (2, Flamebait)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787443)

MS was trying to stop other software producers from using the name "Windows". Apple, on the other hand, wants to stop *anybody* from using the name "Apple". Talk about aggressive! They make MS's lawyers look tame by comparison. Now that's a company using OSS to be proud of!

Re:Wow... worse than MS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787468)

Yeh. It's not a popular opinion 'round these parts, but Apple sure are some evil, greedy, corporate cocksuckers.

Steve Jobs is 1000% the greedy prick Gates ever was. Good thing his product is so damned inferior, and he'll never have any real market power, like a more responsible corporation.

God, imagine buying a tiBook and supporting this systematic series of attacks on our freedoms.

Re:Wow... worse than MS (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787552)

No, they are trying to stop other IT companies from using the name Apple. You don't see them suing Apple Grocer or anything like that.

No, better than MS (5, Informative)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787568)

I know the attorneys, and the company that employs them, look like assholes when they zealously protect the name -- a reason I couldn't do this kind of work -- but they have to or they'll get screwed in court by someone else. Look at the MS problem with Windows -- Lindows et al. with delicious irony retaliate by attacking all Windows branding. Note that one step in their argument was to submit a list of companies using Window in their name apparently without interference from MS. MS may have blown it, a major catastrophe for them. (Personally I think the name Lindows walks the line of -- a lot of "ordinary people" might reasonably think it's a Microsoft product.) The same could happen to Apple -- every company named Apple could be a nail in the coffin of the trademark.

As someone here has probably mentioned, Apple had early problems with Apple Records, Lennon's company IIRC, and settled by promising not to get into the music business. They got sued when they started doing MIDI; I'm not sure how that was resolved.

So, they do come across as assholes, and maybe they are, but they are trying to protect legitimate business interests, not just flex corporate muscle. Pretty much every case looks like intemperate bullshit, but that's how it works because a trademark dies the death of a thousand cuts. Look at cellophane and aspirin and the other famous lapsed trademarks. A protected trademark, unlike copyright, is immortal.

There are some things about being an 800 lb. gorilla that just have to smell bad. I don't like it -- just check out the sprawling list of reserved names, some not even in use on the Apple site. Microsoft much have an even longer one.

Anything you don't sue can and will be used against you in a court of law. Branding does protect the consumer, and keeps ripoff artists at bay, but I would welcome a solution to these petty skirmishes. Perhaps it would make sense to license the name out under the right circumstances of honest overlap, without waiver of Apple's primary rights. I don't know whether this is done, though I can imagine some pitfalls.

Re:No, better than MS (2)

3141 (468289) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787618)

Look at cellophane and aspirin and the other famous lapsed trademarks. A protected trademark, unlike copyright, is immortal.

Not so. Bayer lost the trademark to aspirin in reparations after World War I. Beware of considering any human invention immortal.

Who are they trying to play off of? (5, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787445)

In Europe, there's also a telecomm company by the name of Orange. It appears their first selection of Apple Communications was the opposite of Orange, and now their second choice of Green is as well.

Re:Who are they trying to play off of? (0)

nickclarke (606395) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787512)

Grapefruit Commuincations anyone...

Re:Who are they trying to play off of? (1)

Kishar (83244) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787569)

Very perceptive, and quite worth the +5, since it doesn't mention this in the article ... oh ... wait.


Originally from Hong Kong, he started Apple three years ago to challenge mobile phone company Orange.

Are you green? (0, Offtopic)

Destacona (13613) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787450)

Super green!

Re:Are you green? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787478)

Everything's green here!

I See Potential (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787453)

Isn't there a record company called Apple Records?

Name fight lives on (4, Informative)

class_A (324713) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787459)

I seem to remember Apple has been through a name fight [brighternaming.com] before...

Sosume (2)

Flamesplash (469287) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787474)

What they don't mention is that when Apple did release the Mac, they named one of the system sounds Sosume /So-sue-me/, basically laughing at Apple recording.

Now I understang why Ogg Vorbis (5, Funny)

Sri Lumpa (147664) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787481)


With names like Ogg and Vorbis it is much easier to establish a trademark given that they are completely invented name (oh! wait! Maybe they are words in another langage?). And given the controversy inside Free Software circles it gives them much marketing for free.

BTW, on close view I am for Apple on this one, I really think they will win against Apple ;).

Re:Now I understang why Ogg Vorbis (3, Informative)

Zeni (52928) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787499)

Nanny Ogg and Vorbis (can't remember his full name off hand) are characters from Terry Prachett's DiskWorld series.

Re:Now I understang why Ogg Vorbis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787624)

Exquisitors do not have first names.

Please (3, Insightful)

Frederique Coq-Bloqu (628621) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787462)

capitalize the words 'Australia' and 'Apple' when posting a story to the front page. Thank you.

What?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787507)

What the fuck is this?! Somebody gives friendly spelling tips to a site editor and you call him a troll! I'd fix this if I had mod-points but you people are fucking retarded!

so what? (2, Insightful)

Shymon (624690) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787464)

Apple finds a company riping off it's name. The offending company changes it's name. this happens all the time in the buisness world, just look at all the name changes power companies with Edison in their name make to avoid copying someone elses name.

Love/Hate... screw it, I love my Powerbook. (4, Insightful)

TellarHK (159748) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787465)

We love Apple, we hate Apple... Argh, why must this company be so fucking schizophrenic in how it treats people? C'mon, Apple! Make up your mind, are you an asshole megacorp-wannabe or a company that tries to do What's Right(tm) by people? I just... don't... get it.

Steve. Seriously. Are you a real prick or do you just play one in the courtroom?

Re:Love/Hate... screw it, I love my Powerbook. (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787470)

It's an asshole megacorp-wannabe that tries to fake Doing What's Right(tm) - just like most if not all other large corporations. Their only allegiance is to their shareholders and their executives (you decide the order). That's what a corporation is.

Re:Love/Hate... screw it, I love my Powerbook. (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787548)

It's an asshole megacorp-wannabe that tries to fake Doing What's Right(tm)

Yup... and they pull it off about as naturally as Doctor Evil doing the Macarena.

Strike 3 for Apple... you're outta there!

Re:Love/Hate... screw it, I love my Powerbook. (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787572)

Apples problem is that they have a lot of extremely vicious lawyers working for them, which for no good reason at all they have kept around for years.

I expect that in the absence of anything really happening at Apple that needs them, in order to justify their wages they go around causing hassle for people. This strikes me as almost certainly some lawyer in Cupertino thinking "hmm, what can I do today". It's utterly stupid, because it simply gives Apple a worse name than they already have, for no return at all.

The solution is just to fire almost all the lawyers and hire them in on a contract basis as needed. But Jobs doesn't do this. Does that make Apple a bad company? Yes, I think it does, as regardless of the internal structure, you have to judge a company by what it does. Some people like Apples products, great. But they are still a bad company looking at them in terms of their actions.

Re:Love/Hate... screw it, I love my Powerbook. (2, Interesting)

torre (620087) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787573)

Its not the company its Steve, he's a power hungry attention grabbing tyrant. If he's not fighting over a name, he's engineering a takeover (like how he took over apple after apple bought Next [gtalumni.org] ), or he's ticking off vital partners like ATI by removing all mention of ATI products with a black marker on all literature just hours before macworld because somebody leaked that two new machines were going to be released but no details. Or, more recently revoking [businessweek.com] press passes to mac journalists.

Apple is Steve's persona.... and it tends to be a lot of controlled show... once you talk with people who have worked with companies that deal with apple you start to see a not soo nice picture of what the company really is...

Re:Love/Hate... screw it, I love my Powerbook. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787600)

The corperate takeover was held in high regard by much of wall street. I think he sent his message really well in the ATI incident, after all they *did* violate the NDA. Those aern't press, they are rumor cites.

Apple loves your money, too... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787608)

Apple is a small company founded and led by a bunch of pedantic bastards who think they are superior to everyone else (well, Wozniak was sort of okay). They try to do what's best for them. They think they have the right to forbid everyone else from using the word "Apple", even if they have nothing to do with computers or operating systems (what's next, suing McDonald's and Scotsmen for using "Mac"? Or maybe X-Windows for using "X", or OS/2 for using "OS"). They are not a mega-corporation, they are just mega-lo-maniacs. It's sad to see part of the OSS community being fooled by Apple. They are much, much worse than Microsoft (thank God they're also much smaller).

Re:Apple loves your money, too... (5, Insightful)

archen (447353) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787639)

Woz was SORT of okay? I mean the guy is brilliant, yet very humble. If it weren't for him, there would be no Apple today, yet he still gets paid around $50k a year. If you read about things that Woz has done, like giving his stocks away to other apple empoyees who missed out on the IPO, and teaching computer classes for poor kids you start to realize that Woz is probably a much better guy than most of us (no "sort of" about it).

Hmm... (1)

eonblueye (627191) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787467)

"I sell digital communications and they sell computer hardware. Where's the connection?"

Well the connection is..
Intellectual property "trademark" and money.

Re:Hmm... (5, Informative)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787475)

Actually the connection is both are in the IT industry and in one industry its bad to have the same name as another company. It actually is possible for people to mistake the telecom company for the computer manufacturer.

Not to mention that the telecom would indirectly benefit from Apple Inc's advertising...etc.

Re:Hmm... (4, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787583)

Actually the connection is both are in the IT industry

I think most people would regard the telecoms industry as separate to the IT hardware industry actually.

Not to mention that the telecom would indirectly benefit from Apple Inc's advertising...etc.

Er, how? Apples advertising is almost all designed to try and sell a very particular type of hardware. That has absolutely no repercussions on sales of bandwidth whatsoever, and assuming that 99% of people can tell the difference between their local bits'n'pieces store and their telephone company, they should also be able to tell the difference between a computer hardware company and a telephone company.

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787482)

Shove your "intellectual property" up your ass.

The truth is he sells BROADBAND communications, and they sell COMPUTERS used in COMMUNICATIONS. Connection? No way!

Re:Hmm... (1)

Gax (196168) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787491)

I agree. This isn't a matter of Apple doing the right thing, it's a matter of protecting their property. Both companies sell digital products, either services or hardware. There is an obvious crossover.

Apple Communications (5, Informative)

Mattygfunk1 (596840) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787469)

Apple Communications may be small but they are at least providing extremely good value for their broadband service.


They are one of the VERY few companies offering unlimited broadband downloads in a country full of 3 Gig caps.


-----


slashdot needs a google topic catagory [katrinagalleries.com.au]

Re:Apple Communications (2)

yobbo (324595) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787500)

And you can count on their service being swamped by leechers in the coming months, resulting in either a) a sudden change to their pricing or a download cap, or b) them going out of business.

For what it's worth, Telstra's broadband services started out as unlimited.

Re:Apple Communications (2)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787519)

There's the foul ball, however. It'd be one thing if Apple Communications were a pure phone company, but the moment they start offering a computer-based service, it's hard to argue that the average person will be able to keep the two companies straight.

Trademark nightmares. (1, Interesting)

torre (620087) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787472)

Gee, this is another Lindows/Windows thing.... but in this case its even worse.... an apple has been a generic term far longer.. when will there be a simple way in the legal system to dismiss these absurdities from even coming into being?.

Re:Trademark nightmares. (2)

jedie (546466) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787536)

but in this case its even worse.... an apple has been a generic term far longer

"Apple" and "Window" have been in the English language for about the same period of time.

By the time English was evolving into the language it is now, both an "apple" (which indeed exsisted long before the window) and a "window" were common objects. So the generic term, as you call it, for "apple" evolved around the same period as "window".

Ofcourse, "Apple" could rename to "Apples" and therefore have a more grounded reason in prosecuting trademark violators on the grounds that Apples != Apple, and thus not a generic term (like a certain Redmond software giant does :))

Re:Trademark nightmares. (2)

Dun Malg (230075) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787615)

Earliest known uses of each word from the OED2:

1297 R. Glouc. 283 Upe e hexte bowe tueye applen he sey.
c1250 Gen. & Ex. 602 Fowerti dais after ðis, Arches windoze undon it is.

(earlier uses of each exist, but these are the first with nearly modern spelling)

Why don't they go after those bastiches at... (2)

gmezero (4448) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787487)

Apple Records for infringement... It's not like they're using it anyways. Two of the guys are dead!

They already did. (1, Redundant)

crovira (10242) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787503)

that OLD news...

Apple and the "probable name game" (5, Informative)

JayBonci (92015) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787488)

They may neglect to mention a certain Apple Records [everything2.com] that they had to pay off to stay in business. From what I have been told, the very famous MacOS sound "SoSuMi" was derived from that experience. "So sue me."

And how quickly they turn the other cheek.

They used to be:
Applecomm.com.au [applecomm.com.au] , but on the frontpage there is an announcement regarding the settlement and the change to iGreen [igreen.com.au] .

I can certainly forgive them for their apples being sour.

The only upside of this is if Apple Communications would have become an ISP (not entirely far fetched). The name Apple Internet Access or Apple Broadband could certainly be too close for comfort, and would enjoy at least a small amount of probable name association; the very thing these sorts of suits are trying to protect against. It's a tough situation on either end of the boot.

--jay

"so sue me" (2)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787596)

Didn't "so sue me" spin out of the butthead astronomer clash?

Re:"so sue me" (1)

n.wegner (613340) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787623)

No, god no. Sosumi was a musical sound, ie. something that Apple Records treats as "wares" or "products", and therefore a possible conflict as far as Apple Computers make music could be confused with Apple Records make music, and thus a possible trademark infringement (this being a jab at the record company). The buttheaded astronomer thing was both later and different.

What next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787495)

Tuxedo manufacturers suing linux companies over tux?
What about garden gnome manufaturers.

What about the Kentucky Department of Education. [state.ky.us]

What about lynx (also a popular brand of deoderant, and a courier service)

You get the idea

Re:What next (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787619)

maybe squaresoft will try and sue ;)

(reference to Chrono Cross)

WHY so much of this lately? (4, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787501)

This sort of thing seems to be a fairly recent phenomenon--particularly cases in which big corporations go after small local companies in totally different businesses.

What has changed that suddenly makes it important for big companies to go around breaking butterflies on the wheel?

Is it just that the Internet makes it easier for big companies to search for and locate small companies with similar names?

(Anyone remember Infocom having to change the name of their game newsletter, "The New Zork Times" because the New York Times' lawyers said people could confuse the two?)

Re:WHY so much of this lately? (2, Insightful)

sebmol (217013) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787578)

There is a fairly easy explanation for this. In the soaring 90's, these companies made more revenue than they could ever imagine because people bought each and every product from them.

Now that the computer market has become highly saturated and the economy in a recession, companies will try to offset their losses by exploring new ways to make some money. When Apple or Microsoft go after these people, they hope they will fight against it and make way for a settlement. The company pays Microsoft (or Apple resp.) an undisclosed amount of money and in return Microsoft (or Apple) promises not to sue them.

The point of these cease-and-desist letters, trademark and patent lawsuits, etc. is not necessarily to stop other companies but to extort as much cash as possible. Makes perfect business sense to me.

Re:WHY so much of this lately? (5, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787635)

The growth of the Internet also makes it possible to hear about stories that otherwise might not have been reported stateside. I mean, this was a rather minor case that happened half the world away from the USA, yet it's being reported on a USA-centric site. Just like other news events, we seem to think that the frequency an event happening is the same as the frequency of the media reporting the event. Last year's "increase" in child abductions was such a case, actual cases did not increase, but the rollout of the Amber Alert system in many states gave police a process that notifed all of the local news outlets. Suddenly, child abductions went from a story in segment B of the newscast to a breaking story that disrupted programming. CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all have deals with groups of local stations take from their coverage, so a local special report can quickly go national on a slow news day. The public sees several reports on child abductions in a short time frame and thinks there's a crisis going on, when really the risk of the tradegy hasn't changed or is being driven down because a once ignored problem is getting so much attention.

I am not a lawyer but (5, Insightful)

sg3000 (87992) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787509)

Apple is only obligated to go after trademark infringements by companies that are in similar industries. So, of course, they're not going to go after your local grocery store, carpet cleaning services, towing companies, maid services, or whatever else stuck "Apple" in their name so they'd be in the front of the phone book.

But a telecommunications company is fair game since Apple does telecommunications. With the convergence of computers and traditional telephony (e.g. VoIP, modems, 2.4 GHz wireless, DSL), the two industries are becoming basically the same thing these days.

Remember that Apple has one of the top 10 most recognized trademarks, and there are a lot of companies that wish to make some money (through name recognition) off that trademark. At the same time, they hope to mount a sympathy defense by citing how small they are.

I think he certainly knew what what he was doing when he named his company. I wouldn't be surprised if he hoped that Apple would buy him out to settle the naming rights in Australia (much the same way Microsoft did with "Internet Explorer), but they already had the global naming rights. After that didn't happen, he probably figured a $100,000 settlement is pretty cheap to get nationwide publicity for his company. He gets a newspaper article about him, and the sympathy of misguided trademark-haters around the world.

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787564)

I think he certainly knew what what he was doing when he named his company.


From the article:

Originally from Hong Kong, he started Apple three years ago to challenge mobile phone company Orange.


Apples and oranges -- get it? Is there a more obvious, yet concise and witty way to point out the supposed difference between companies?

Re:RTFA (2)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787591)

Yes, but just because you're trying to make a trademark that's far away from Company A, that doesn't clear you from infringing Company B's namespace.

Re:I am not a lawyer but (2)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787602)

But a telecommunications company is fair game since Apple does telecommunications.

I don't buy that. Apple do hardware: computers and MP3 players in fact. Where can I sign up for Apple network connectivity? They haven't even announced any intention to be in that business.

Apple Communications sells a service, namely bandwidth. Apple Computer sells hardware. Yes, I know they sell .Mac as well, but webmail services are not the same as bandwidth.

Re:I am not a lawyer but (5, Insightful)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787622)

You never heard all the proposals for an Apple branded ISP? (I don't remember where that went; maybe they realized they didn't want to be AOL.) .Mac has all the features of a typicals ISP account except the connectivity. And, there's always future expansion to protect.

Not so sure (2)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787612)

Apple is only obligated to go after trademark infringements by companies that are in similar industries.

I don't think that's true for a couple of reasons off the top of my head. The first is dilution, cases where the name in an unrelated field (usually porn) makes the trademarks holder look bad, as in the Candyland case. Second, failing to protect its copyright could hamper Apple's future attempt to expand. It's certainly not unheard of for a company to expand by buying up businesses in other industries; Microsoft sure has, as has virtually every big company I can think of. (When times are bad you suddenly hear about their long-forgotten "core business.")

Apple Records was the original bully here, perhaps Apple is still smarting from that lesson.

As I mention in a parallel post, trademark holders, especially bg ambitious companies, have to be bloodthirsty. And I think that sucks, but don't doubt that it is true too often to be careless.

I parrot the law, I don't write it. :)

Before Apple Computers was Apple Records (0, Redundant)

mlfallon (110606) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787510)

When is Apple going to take on Apple records? But wait, they have been around longer (set up by the Beatles) and they are a record company, so we all know who would win.

Trademarks and dilution (2)

SensitiveMale (155605) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787511)

Apple, and all large companies, NEED to defend thier trademarks religiously. And while some people may think they are out to crush the little guy the opposite is actually true.

If a company doesn't defend it's trademark then it can lose it. If a large company ignores a competitor or possible competitor that coulds dilute it's trademark then they run the risk of losing the trademark to every other company that wants to use it.

So while some people may see this as Apple being a bully, I view it the other way. If Apple doesn't vigorously defend even the smallest possible dilution then that could open up the door and some judge could rule against Apple later.

I guess theese guys are next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787516)

http://www.itools.com/

Oh wait... (C) 1995-2002

I hope they serve iSteve up some karma...

And the next lawsuit is... (5, Funny)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787523)

...going to be over their choice of domain name: iGreen.com.au. These guys must enjoy being in court.

Internet copyright lawyers are generally iTools about stuff like this.

In today's news... (2, Funny)

Helpadingoatemybaby (629248) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787526)

Green is being sued by a man named "Green Giant" and so is changing it's name to "Fish Communications" only to be sued by Capt. Highliner, the rock band Fysh, and Microsoft (for using the word "communications".)



Later at discovery it was discovered that there are no words left to trademark, period. (tm)

cease and desist! (2)

NineNine (235196) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787547)

Later at discovery it was discovered that there are no words left to trademark, period. (tm)

Please don't use the word "period" in order to make a point. That's trademarked (See below). Our trademark will be enforced vigorously. Thank you.

- The NineNine Legal Team

Linux and the big time (5, Funny)

bgfay (5362) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787527)

I'm concerned that Linux is not going to make it to the big time for one simple reason. While coders are working on the system, developers are writing applications, and the press is writing about Linux, there is no concerted effort by a central group that is pursuing important lawsuits against those who use the word "Linux," the syllable "lin," or the letter L in their product names. Further, the penquins at are zoo are labeled as such without any notice that they are not related to or shareholders of a Linux company. I for one am confused by these misleading names and animals and I am sure that if they aren't stopped, and I mean soon, Linux is sure to fade into obscurity.

Can't someone do anything about this problem before it's too late? And why isn't Linus leading the legal fight? What's he got that is more important to work on?

heh-heh (2)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787634)

Those who forget the past [slashdot.org] are condemned.

And Linus (first name basis!) does have better things to do ... so he hires lawyers for the same reason I hire someone to change the oil in my car. Sure, I could do it without getting too dirty ... maybe.

Shapes are Public Domain... (1)

sharkbiter (266775) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787528)

You can't patent the name Circle, Square or Triangle unless it's an appended one,(Circle-K, Square-D, Triangle-Services).

Why should common fruit be any different?

jesus h. fucking christ! (-1)

j0nkatz (315168) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787529)

First they let pot head teens do commercials now THIS?

And in breaking news..... (4, Funny)

bain (1910) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787535)

Apple computers is sueing New York for $ 100 billion Dollors for using "The Big Apple" to promite the city. A spokes person for Apple (computers) said "New York is obviosly using our good name to lure overpriced high earning apple users to new york and get rid of the bad apples already there"

As the saying goes. One bad apple spoils the bunch.

Hey... (2)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787649)

...I'd sue on grounds of trademark tarnishment. I mean, have you been to NYC in the last 20 years?

Before I get flamed, I add: New York City, there's no place on earth like it. :)

I'm green (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#4787542)

Yo listen up heres a story

about a little guy that lives in a corp world..


I'm green.. da-pen-dee-da-pen-dah
coz Jobs was mean-da-pen-deee-da-ben-dah!


Sorry I had to remind everyone of that horribl song

Apple is just sick (0, Troll)

vmalloc_ (516438) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787554)

Hey Apple, why don't you sue Apple Records too???

I swear to god, how do you guys like Apple? They're worse than Microsoft.

What about The Beatles? (2, Interesting)

grundie (220908) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787556)

The popular beat combo known as The Beatles own their own company which manages all their affairs and rights. This company happens to be called Apple Corp and it has been going internationally since the 1960's. Its logo also happens to be an apple with a bite out of it.

Methinks Apple computer should bear in mind there were companies called Apple in existence long before it came in to being, before it goes after anyone with the word apple in their name.

It's Been Done (1, Redundant)

akheron1 (604013) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787559)

Actually, Apple was having the same sort of problem in the 80s. They were being sued by Apple Records, in the end they won, but had to agree to never try to enter the recording business. Later, when the first mac was released with a high quality audio in port standard the system alert sound "Sosumi" was added. Yes that is really how they got the name for that alert sound :)

Better than taking it to court (2)

CyberDruid (201684) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787561)

Apple Core sent a link to an article [...] about apple fighting for their name with some little telco called Apple Communications

Well, I always enjoyed a good apple fight. It seems more fair than dragging lawyers into it.

Ways to Profit (1)

core plexus (599119) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787586)

I see 2 ways to profit: A: 1. Intentionally select a name like windows, apple, etc. and form a company. 2. Ride the wave of free publicity and sympathy. 3. Sell Something. 4. Profit. Or B: Become a lawyer.

How about Pear Communications? (2, Offtopic)

jpt.d (444929) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787587)

For some reason I have always found humour in a company that competes with apple named pear. Probably because of their fruitness. This isn't exactly related I guess but imagine a computer maker named:

Pear

They just released the Pear Barlett pBook. It runs Anjou OS X. It is fast and sexy.

You like?

indigo... apple's or sgi's (1)

Amalthea (98090) | more than 11 years ago | (#4787610)

I always wondered why sgi never sued apple over the use of indigo (sgi has the rights to a computer named indigo, yet one of the iMacs was called indigo)....
It seems silly to be fighting over a name.
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