If you have been through the logo design process, you know that it can be intensive and challenging. When you end up with a design that works perfectly for your company, you feel protective of it, almost like a child. It is a hard-won victory that morally and legally belongs solely to your company.
No one protects their brands as vigilantly as large multinational corporation. There is a reason that you choose Nikes over the cheaper models at Target. There is a reason that you reach for certain products over others. You trust certain brands, and they have worked hard at building this loyalty. It rightfully belongs to them.
This is why these large (and small!) companies get very defensive, and even take the offensive, when their brands are threatened or misappropriated. Take Apple, for instance. This is one of the original computer brands. It has been through numerous ups and downs, and fought hard for its current place at the top of its industry. The Apple logo design is so common now that it is virtually ubiquitous, and people around the world associate the bitten apple image with the company that it represents.
If another company began to use the same or even a similar image for their own products, it could really hurt Apple. This, in fact, is what is occurring. Chinese company Sichuan Fangguo Food Co uses an image of an apple as their logo design. As they are expanding to the American market, they recently filed for a trademark for their image. The problem is that the logo is strikingly similar to that of both Apple and LG. In fact, if you look at the image, it is almost an amalgam of the two.
Sichuan Fangguo defends their logo design, claiming that it is a completely original design that incorporates the Chinese characters representing the company into a wholesome, food related image that perfectly represents their company. Apple has filed papers in hopes of stopping the purported imitation from being trademarked to another country. LG, which seems to be the real victim here, is silent on the matter, probably because Apple is a formidable enough opponent that the design has a good chance of being rejected by the powers that be.
A spokesperson from the Chinese food company states that when the company developed their logo design, they had never even heard of Apple. The company began as a state-run business in China and only recently went private. The whole bit about not having heard of this global giant seems unlikely and, in our opinion, undermines Sichuan Fangguo’s credibility in the matter. To make matters worse, the food company tried to register it in a variety of categories, including notebook computers and electronic diversion software (which means gadgets). Both are categories in which Apple dominates.
Whether it is a purposeful theft or an accident, the problem for Sichuan Fangguo will remain the same. If the image is determined to be too similar to the existing trademark of Apple, it cannot be used to represent another company in the United States.