Crunch time in logo battle between NYC and Apple

Apple’s latest trademark wrangle with New York City has been branded ‘a shame’ by the consultancy that designed the identity under dispute.

Director of New York consultancy Turf, Mark Tripetti, says, ‘It is a shame that something so benevolent is causing a dispute, and that there is conflict over something that is impacting such positive consumer change.’

Tripetti stands by the identity that has been in use across the city since July last year to promote recycling and Green practices, although he declines to comment further on the actual litigation. ‘We’re proud of the work we created. It’s in keeping with our mission to define good business,’ he adds.

The GreeNYC campaign marque uses an infinite loop symbol to reference recycling, while the apple visualisation takes its cue from the ‘Big Apple’ nickname. But Apple claims the logo is causing confusion and will ‘seriously injure the reputation which [it] has established for its goods and services’.

The dispute, which has attracted a swathe of media attention this week, follows Apple’s opposition to NYC’s application for a trademark for its campaign logo last May. NYC filed a counterclaim in September. The next stage of the process will be to establish the level of consumer confusion.

According to chief executive of Anti Copying in Design, Dids Macdonald, this will be hard to prove.

‘The case is not clear-cut,’ says Macdonald. ‘The “Big Apple” name has been in use for light years, so it’s unlikely that with such an established description of New York the consumer would be confused.’

The dispute is not Apple’s first over infringement of trademark identity. Last year, Cisco claimed Apple was unlawfully using the iPhone name, while a lengthy battle with The Beatles’ Apple Corps eventually led to a licensing agreement between the two parties over use of the Apple marque in 2007.

Apple declines to comment on its current dispute with NYC.

Background

• New York sports writer John Fitzgerald is thought to have coined the phrase ‘The Big Apple’ in 1924 after his horseracing column, Around the Big Apple

• The New York Convention & Visitors Bureau, now NYC & Company, introduced the ‘Big Apple’ symbol and tourism campaign in 1970, under its then-president, Charles Gillett

• Apple’s first logo, designed by founders Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne in 1975, depicted Sir Isaac Newton under an apple tree

• It was quickly replaced by US graphic designer Rob Janoff’s rainbow marque in 1976

• The rainbow marque was used until the launch of the current monochrome logo in 1998

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