Apple has just lost another legal battle, this time against an Italian clothing company which uses the name of the Apple’s late co-founder “Steve Jobs” for its clothing brand. The Italian company has won the rights to continue using that branding.
The legal conflict began back in 2012 when two brothers, Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato, realized that Apple surprisingly hadn’t trademarked the name of its founder and decided that “Steve Jobs” would be the perfect name for their new clothing brand. The duo was already in the process of starting their own clothing company after spending years of creating products for other brands.
According to La Repubblica Napoli, an Italian news outlet, the two entrepreneurs-brothers said: “We did our market research and we noticed that Apple, one of the best-known companies in the world, never thought about registering its founder’s brand, so we chose to do it.”
Hence, they had registered the name “Steve Jobs” as their clothing line. And even their company logo mimics the Apple logo a little — a stylized letter “J” with a bite mark and a leaf on top.
On realizing this, Apple, as one can expect, filed a lawsuit against the Barbato brothers for using Steve Jobs’ name and a logo that mimics the Apple logo.
However, as the duo had already registered the trademark ‘Steve Jobs’ internationally, the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of the Barbatos in 2014 and rejected Apple’s trademark lawsuit. While Apple’s claim to the brand was declined in 2014, it was awarded to the Barbatos brothers only this year.
According to reports, Apple also lost the suit for infringement of its logo, as the Intellectual Property Office concluded that the logo differed enough from Apple’s and “that the letter ‘J’ cannot be perceived as edible, and therefore the missing part cannot be perceived as a bite.”
With now having full legal rights to use the name and logo worldwide, the two brothers are set to continue working on products under the Steve Jobs brand, including bags, t-shirts, jeans, and other fashion accessories. In an interview with Business Insider Italia, the brothers noted that they are pushing forward their plans to expand into other product lines and they eventually want to ship electronics, which could put them in more direct conflict with Apple.
“We are working on a line of highly innovative electronic devices, projects we have been working on for years.”
They say they are looking for partnerships and are in talks for a production of electronics products with a Chinese brand. They are serious about potentially releasing an Android-based “Steve Jobs Phone,” but they insist they will keep it elegant. “We will not do anything low-level, you will never see the phones or TV shoddy with the brand Steve Jobs.”
It seems like ‘Apple’ normally has little trouble in preserving its trademarks, with some notable exceptions. For instance, last year, the tech giant lost exclusive rights to the term “iPhone” in China, after a battle with leather goods maker Xintong Tiandi.