Wed, Oct 09, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Bonn cafe owner wins trademark battle with Apple

The Guardian, BERLIN

It is only a small cafe in the center of a small German city, but its owner has succeeded where the Beatles failed and won a legal standoff with the US computer giant Apple.

Apfelkind (Apple Child) is a cafe in Bonn where parents can sip lattes while children play with toys or listen to storytellers. Its logo shows the outline of a child’s face within a red apple — with none of the characteristic bite marks of the electronics manufacturer’s logo.

Yet when Apfelkind’s owner, Christin Romer, filed a trademark application for her company in 2011, Apple got in touch asking her to withdraw the request since customers could potentially confuse the two logos.

Romer stood firm and a two-year legal correspondence ensued. Last week Apple withdrew its objection.

The key factor that inspired Romer to fight back was a gagging clause. At first the US company had offered a compromise whereby she could use the Apfelkind logo on her own franchise products, but not on any electronic equipment.

Romer said she only planned to sell branded mugs, keyrings and carrier bags, but was unhappy with a clause in the settlement stating that she could not talk about any of the correspondence between her and Apple.

“I have people coming into my cafe on a daily basis, asking me what is going on with Apple,” she told the regional television network WDR. “If I couldn’t have talked about the outcome at all, that would have been very strange.”

Apple declined to comment on the issue.

In 2006 it won an epic legal battle with Apple Corps, the record company owned by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and the widows of George Harrison and John Lennon. After initial legal action between the two companies more than 30 years ago, an agreement had been reached that Apple Computers would stay clear of the music business while Apple Corps would not get involved in computers.

Apple Corps sued Apple Computers for copyright infringement after the launch of iTunes in 2003. The Beatles lost their high court battle in 2006.

In 2008 New York City, nicknamed the Big Apple, had to alter its GreeNYC logo after a complaint from the manufacturer. Last year Apple filed a complaint against a Polish online grocery store, A.pl.

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