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Apple lawyers hit Chinese food maker over logo


Even a Chinese food maker is not safe from Apple Inc.’s lawyers: a blog site reports the tech giant claims Sichuan-based Fangguo Food Co., Ltd. has a logo similar to its own. Apple Inc. has claimed that the logo of China-based Fangguo (which sounds like "apple" in Mandarin) resembles its own iconic logo, but Fangguo officials disagree, according to blog site GoChengDoo.com.
Spot the difference. Sichuan, China-based Fangguo Food Co., Ltd's logo (left) and Apple Inc's now-iconic logo (right). Source: GoChengDoo.com
“There’s a leaf so you can tell it’s an apple, but it also contains two Chinese characters. ... The orientation is also different, and ours is a totally different shape ... (Besides), when I started Fangguo, I had never even heard of Apple," the blog quoted Fangguo CEO Zhao Yi as saying. Zhao also stood by his logo. “I’m Fangguo, it’s a fruit, if the leaf is removed, it’ll just look like a bomb. Anyway, the law firm who sent the letter hasn’t contacted me since they sent it," he said. To prepare his response, Zhao created 1,000 questionnaires asking whether or not Fangguo and Apple’s logos resemble each other, and if so, how. Zhao added even some members of his family use Apple products, adding the Fangguo logo was created by a Beijing-based design company in the 1980s. While the logo belonged to a state-run Nanchong company at the time, Zhao transferred the logo to his name in 1997. He said the fruit symbolized not only Fangguo but also its base in Nanchong, a city known for its fruit. Zhao said he registered Fangguo’s logo under so many seemingly unrelated product categories not because he had specific plans to expand to other types of manufacturing. He never imagined that somebody would object to the trademark, the blog said. According to the blog, Fangguo’s logo includes a circle with the bottom left-hand three-quarters missing, resembling apple with its stem and right-facing leaf. It said Zhao received a letter dated July 19 from the Guangzhou branch of Beijing Zhucheng Law, supposedly written on behalf of Apple. The letter included two complaints. Beijing Zhucheng Law attorney Li Gousheng said Apple closely monitors new trademark applications on China Logo Web. Li said that as long as Fangguo eliminates “conflicting elements" by removing the apple leaf in its logo and voiding its trademark registration in product categories conflicting with Apple’s, the dispute will be resolved. Other than the “resemblance" of the logos, the blog site reported Fangguo had applied to register its logo under 16 product categories, including “notebook computers" and “electronic-game software." Computers and electronic devices particularly threaten to overlap with Apple Inc.’s products. The blog reported the letter stated that Fangguo should respond before August 6. It said Fangguo’s trademark-registration license shows a validity period of August 20, 1997 to August 19, 2007, and commodities produced by the company fall into flour and noodles. On June 6, 2007, the license was extended to August 19, 2017. In 2009, Fangguo’s production expanded to other food categories, including rice, grain oil, snack foods, and other types of food products. Last year, Fangguo applied for two additional trademarks with the National Trademark Office. On April 20, 2011, the preliminary application period for these trademarks ended. CNet: Chinese firm’s logo, LG logo too A separate report on tech site CNET, which picked up the story on the logo war, said the logo also bears a resemblance to that of Singapore-based electronics firm LG. “There are no reports that LG has noticed this logo and wondered about it. Perhaps it is already familiar with it and finds it rather flattering," it added. — TJD, GMA News
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