Apple of discord: Corp tries to trademark ‘Apple’ in Russian, angers existing political party
The two entities have not encroached on each other’s territories
Apple Corporation is a Californian consumer electronics giant with a market capitalization of $466 billion.
Yabloko, or apple in Russian, is a social democratic party founded in 1995, whose title is a pun on the composite names of its former leaders. The party used to be a consistent presence in parliaments in the 1990s, and while without any national deputies now, it is still immediately recognizable to most Russians.
But despite enjoying ubiquity in Russia using its English name, Apple decided to take up the native-language variant too.
And not only did register it Yabloko as its trademark for computer goods, but for a bewildering variety of others.
Trademarks are regulated by an internationally accepted Nice Classification, which separates them into categories, so that two companies could operate under the same name if their commercial activities do not intersect.
But Apple didn’t just register as a computer goods maker, but as a paper producer, advertising company, entertainment and cultural event provider and most puzzlingly, a non-alcoholic beverage and beer maker.
In several of these categories they have directly infringed on previous copyright by Yabloko.
“Apple is known here as Apple, we are Yabloko – that’s our brand. The political and commercial brands sharing a name is unsatisfactory to us,” said bemused party leader Sergey Mitrokhin.
“We may very well take legal action.”
Experts believe that Apple would stand little chance in court.
“If a company registers a new trademark, it has to get an agreement with the previous rights holder, which has to be verified by the patent office,” lawyer Olga Plyasunova told Izvestiya newspaper.
Apple has waged both offensive and defensive wars over its
distinctive, but predictably common logo, since its
After blowing up as a company in the late 1970s it became
apparent that the company had infringed on the Beatles-founded
Apple recording company, with whom it shared both the name, and a
similar logo. The companies fought a decades-long court campaign
that ended in 2007, when the electronics giant bought out the
iconic Apple trademark for a reported $500 million.
Since then, almost any apple in any logo anywhere in the world (not to mention the name) seems to have spurred the company’s legal department into sending cease-and-desist orders.
Among targets are supermarket Woolworths, an environmental campaign in New York City (the Big Apple!), a music festival organizer, a pornography channel, and a small café in Germany that spent two years communicating with Cupertino before Apple dropped their lawsuit in October.
It now appears that Apple’s lawyers will again fire themselves up
for what by now is a familiar routine, albeit with the
corporation forced onto its back foot once more.