Switzerland has entered the list of countries where Apple, the company, is battling for its trademark. But this time, it is quite different from what trademark legal battles look like. The tech giant wants the rights to actual apples (fruits) in Switzerland.
FRUIT UNION Suisse resides in Switzerland, and they have been in operation in the country for more than 111 years. Since the corporation was created, most of its symbol/trademark has been a red apple with a white cross. This symbolizes the national flag of Switzerland. But recently, there have been worries that they would lose access to their logo after Apple filed to gain intellectual property rights over depictions of apples. In other words, any establishment with the apple fruit in its logo will have to contend with Apple for intellectual property rights.
Fruit Union Suisse director Jimmy Mariéthoz said they had a hard time understanding what their new development with Apple was all about. Mariéthoz expressed confusion regarding Apple's desire to claim intellectual ownership of real fruit. This puzzled them, as they believe that apples are a universally natural commodity that ought to be freely accessible to all.
"We have a hard time understanding this because it’s not like they’re trying to protect their bitten Apple. Their objective here is really to own the rights to an actual apple, which, for us, is something that is really almost universal … that should be free for everyone to use," Jimmy Mariéthoz said.
Apple Image Rights Request Dates Back to 2017
Many Swiss companies are confused about why Apple (the company) should be so interested in gaining ownership of an ordinary fruit. But for the tech giant, it has grown to become a global trend for them.
According to reports from World Intellectual Property Organization’s records, Apple has made several requests to other countries, requesting for the intellectual property of the fruit apple. Although these requests to IP authorities come in their dozens, not all are close to successful.
Authorities in Japan, Turkey, Israel, and Armenia have received similar reports from Apple, seeking to gain the intellectual property rights to a fruit apple. The scenario in Switzerland dates back to 2017 when the tech giant submitted an appeal to the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI).
They applied to gain the intellectual property rights of a realistic, black-and-white depiction of an apple variety called Granny Smith. The application from Apple has proved to be partially successful, as they were granted rights to some of their appeals.
Fruit Union Concerned About Apple's Appeal
Fruit Union Suisse director Jimmy Mariéthoz says their organization is concerned about what will be the outcome of Apple's latest appeal. If Apple's logo contains the intellectual property rights of a physical Apple, it can be catastrophic for other brands.
"We’re concerned that any visual representation of an apple—so anything that’s audiovisual or linked to new technologies or to media—could be potentially impacted. That would be a very, very big restriction for us. Theoretically, we could be entering slippery territory everytime we advertise with an apple," Jimmy Mariéthoz said.