Apple prevails in apple logo dispute

In Apple Inc v Next Learn AB (Case 06-215, September 24 2009), the Swedish Court of Patent Appeals has ruled in favour of Apple Inc and ordered the cancellation of Next Learn AB's apple mark.

The dispute involved Apple’s well-known stylized apple mark. The California-based company has filed numerous actions in various countries to protect its mark. In the present case, Apple sought to cancel a trademark owned by Next Learn, a Swedish computer consulting company.

Next Learn’s trademark contained a depiction of an apple and covered various computer-related services. Apple argued that Next Learn’s mark infringed its earlier trademark rights due to the similarity between the two apple logos. Moreover, Apple alleged that due to the highly distinctive character of its mark, Next Learn’s use of an apple logo took unfair advantage of the reputation of its mark. Finally, Apple submitted that there was a risk of dilution of its mark.      
The court ruled in favour of Apple on all claims, holding that its mark enjoyed a high degree of protection against use of apple symbols in third-party trademarks - in particular in relation to computer-related goods and services. The court also stated that in light of the decisions of the European Court of Justice in Sabel v Puma (Case C-251/95) and Canon v Metro Goldwyn Mayer (Case C-39/97), the greater the distinctiveness of the earlier mark, the greater the scope of protection. The court concluded that there was a likelihood of confusion between the marks and cancelled Next Learn’s registration.

Tom Kronhöffer and Victor Holmberg, MAQS Law Firm, Stockholm

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