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Apple vs Apples: Why The Tech Giant's Weird Trademark Battle Has Left Swiss Farmers Puzzled

The Fruit Union Suisse uses a symbol of a red apple with a white cross, which actually depicts the Swiss national flag.
UPDATED AUG 24, 2023
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Anna Nekrashevich
Cover Image Source: Pexels | Anna Nekrashevich

Apple, one of the world's most valuable companies, is apparently going after the 111-year-old fruit farmer organization in Switzerland -- the Fruit Union Suisse. The Fruit Union Suisse uses a symbol of a red apple with a white cross, which actually depicts the Swiss national flag. The oldest and largest fruit farmer’s organisation in Switzerland is now worried that it might have to change its logo.

According to an investigation conducted by the Tech Transparency Project, which is a nonprofit organization, Apple filed more trademark opposition than Meta, Google, and Amazon combined.

"We have a hard time understanding this because it’s not like they’re trying to protect their bitten apple. 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," The organization director Jimmy Mariéthoz told Wired.

Wired sheds light on the number of times the Cupertino-based tech giant has made similar demands to intellectual property authorities around the world, some of which resulted in success for the company. 

Pexels | Mark Stebnicki
Pexels | Mark Stebnicki

Apple's trial of trademarking the fruit in Switzerland started in 2017. The tech giant submitted an application to the country's IP institute requesting IP rights for a realistic-looking black-and-white illustration of a Granny Smith apple. Following a lengthy back-and-forth between the organization and the tech company, Apple was finally granted the IP rights. The organization said "that Apple could have rights relating to only some of the goods it wanted, citing a legal principle that considers generic images of common goods—like apples—to be in the public domain."

Apple was not satisfied! It filed an appeal against the initial decision to win all the rights. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), similar requests have been made to over 10 authorities around the world and it was seen that many of the authorities in Japan, Turkey, Israel, and Armenia have caved. 


Apple Vs Prepear

Apple filed an opposition against a meal prep company because of its pear-shaped logo which the company claimed looked too close to their own logo, as per MacRumors. The tech giant said that the pear logo may "cause dilution of the distinctiveness" of their logo and make it difficult for consumers to separate between Prepear and Apple's products. The company said that this was a clear violation of the Lanham Act.

Apple Vs Franki Pineapple

In another incident of Apple suing somebody for no apparent reason, the company went after an indie musician Franki Pineapple and said that her stage name was too close to Apple, as per NY Times. 

Apple Vs Apfelroute

Apple also went after a German cycling route, which is called the Apfelroute. The company argued that the logo for this path was too close to their current logo, of course!

Apple Vs Paperapple

Apple didn't even spare Liz Apple, who launched a small design firm and named it after her own last name. Paperapple received a 283-page notice from one of Apple's law firms. 

Apple Vs The Beatles


For a change, this one was filed by Apple Corps and not Apple Computer. In 1978 Apple Corps, the holding company for the legendary band The Beatles filed a lawsuit against Apple for trademark infringement. The suit was finally settled in 2007 with an amount paid to Apple Corps by Apple. The two companies also agreed to stick to their respective fields and continue to use their respective apples as logos.

A decision by the Swiss Court may take months or even years. As for the apple growers, they are living in fear in case they have to rebrand. The director said that they have no intentions to enter the same field as Apple. The fruit-growing organization said, "You know, Apple didn’t invent apples, We have been around for 111 years. And I think apples have been around for a few thousand more."