iPhone maker wants IP rights on Apple fruit in unique battle

According to the Fruit Union, there is no clarity on what uses of the apple shape Apple will try to protect.

London: Tech giant Apple is reportedly trying to gain intellectual property (IP) rights over depictions of apples, the fruit, which has left a fruit farmer’s organisation in Switzerland worried.

According to a report in Wired, the Fruit Union, the oldest and largest fruit farmers’ organisation in Switzerland, is concerned that it may have to change its logo because the iPhone maker is attempting to secure IP rights for “a realistic, black-and-white depiction of an apple variety known as the Granny Smith”.

“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,” Fruit Union Suisse director Jimmy Mariethoz was quoted as saying.

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According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s records, Apple has made similar requests to dozens of IP authorities around the world.

Authorities in Japan, Turkey, Israel, and Armenia have already accepted their fate, albeit reluctantly.

“Apple’s quest to own the IP rights of something as generic as a fruit speaks to the dynamics of a flourishing global IP rights industry, which encourages companies to compete obsessively over trademarks they don’t really need,” the report noted.

The tech giant had submitted an application to the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI) in 2017, requesting the IP rights for a realistic, black-and-white depiction of an apple variety known as the Granny Smith — the generic green apple.

“The request covered an extensive list of potential uses — “mostly on electronic, digital, and audiovisual consumer goods and hardware,” according to the report.

The Swiss institute partially granted Apple’s request last year, saying that Apple could have rights relating to only some of the goods it wanted. Apple later filed an appeal.

According to the Fruit Union, there is no clarity on what uses of the apple shape Apple will try to protect.

“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,” Mariethoz was quoted as saying.

Apple did not comment on the report.

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