Preston Gralla

Apple plays the bully again

October 08, 2008 11:48 AM EDT
Apple, which portrays itself as friend of the little man, is once again unleashing its attack dog lawyers, this time against a college for using an apple in its logo.

According to the CBC News, Apple recently sent a cease and desist order to the Canadian-based Victoria School of Business and Technology because the school uses an apple in its logo. The school first used the logo back in 2005, but Apple only recently got around to targeting the school.

In a letter to the school, lawyer Stephanie Vaccari writes that the school's logo

reproduces, without authority, our client's APPLE Design Logo which it widely uses. By doing so, you are infringing Apple's rights, and further, falsely suggesting that Apple has authorized your activities. In addition, we understand that your website also reproduces other Apple trademarks. This activity heightens the risk of confusion.

The school's logo is clearly very different from Apple's, as you can see in the comparison below:

The school, isn't giving in. Here's an except of the letter its president and CEO wrote back to the lawyer:

We do not share your view that our logo shown here on our letterhead reproduces Apple's logo, or for that matter infringes Apple's rights, nor likely to cause confusion amongst consumers regarding the source of related products and services.

Our logo is unique and distinguishable in numerous aspects from the Apple logo, including our acronym "VSBT' being part of our logo. Are you suggesting that anyone using any variation of an apple for technology education related use is infringing on Apple's trademark?

We have been using this logo since January 2005. We have never heard anyone make a comparison between our logo and the Apple logo even though our classrooms are stocked with iMacs.

We find your letter somewhat uncharacteristic of how we have come to know Apple through the excellent business relationship we have shared over the years. In fact I must say we are feeling somewhat bullied by your letter and are not particularly impressed.

For more details about the Apple letter, including PDFs of Apple's letter and the school's response, head to this web site.

If Microsoft had done any of this it would be justifiably excoriated. Apple does it, though, and few people take notice. In the past, Apple has gone after bloggers and authors who write things the company doesn't like. Now it's going after an educational institution. Who's next --- farmers who grow Macintosh apples?

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