The old idiom that you cannot compare apples with pears has been lost on Apple Inc, which is once again unleashing the big legal guns against a tiny company it claims is infringing its copyright by having a pear for a logo.
The Prepear app was launched in 2017 by Utah couple Natalie and Russ Monson as an extension of their Super Health Kids website, where food bloggers can upload recipes that subscribers can access to plan meals and create shopping lists. They filed a trademark application in the same year.
As a final step before approval, the patent office published their application in late 2019.
And now Apple is urging regulators to reject the application, arguing that the image is too similar to its own logo and would hurt its brand – which currently has 1.4 billion active devices and is worth $1.5 trillion. The Monson business, meanwhile, has about 21,000 monthly active users, including 3,000 customers who pay the annual $59 fee.
In its filing with the US patent and trademark office, Apple Inc says the Monsons’ pear logo “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”.
More than 53,000 people have signed a Change.org petition to try to pressure the company to back down.
Russ Monson told the BBC: “This is a real world example of a small business being destroyed by a giant monopoly because they don’t have accountability. That was so frustrating to us that we thought we had to do something. We can’t just be the next victim on the list.”
He said he initially thought it was a misunderstanding and the two sides would be able to resolve the dispute amicably, adding that the logo had been approved in other countries, including the UK, without dispute, and that US patent officials had not found a problem.
“We’re honestly overwhelmed by how supportive people have been. It’s incredible to see how many people share the same frustration that made us decide to take this public. We’re going to take it all the way.”
Natalie Monson added: “We had no intention or any awareness that it was copying any logo at all. We thought it was very unique and designed it to be so.
“First we were very surprised and then I would say our second reaction was definitely scared. Like, ‘ok where do we go from here? What does this mean?'”
Apple Inc has not had it all its own way when it comes to copyright battles, however. While it forced Pear Technologies to ditch its pear logo in 2017, in 2015 it failed to get juice maker Zummo Corp to ditch its fruit and leaf branding.
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