Apple Started a Trademark Battle Over Images of a Certain Fruit 

And it’s exactly what you think it is

green apples against green background
The Apple trademark fight in Switzerland began in 2017.
Getty Images

Apple is battling for intellectual property rights over images of apples — the fruit — in Switzerland, according to Wired U.K. The decision could impact many Swiss apple growers as well as the Swiss Fruit Union Suisse, which has been around for 111 years. The company logo is a red apple with the Switzerland flag, and as the oldest and largest fruit farmer’s organization in Switzerland, it’s worried it might have to change its logo. 

“We have a hard time understanding this, because it’s not like they’re trying to protect their bitten apple,” Fruit Union Suisse director Jimmy Mariéthoz said to Wired. “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.”

Mariéthoz also expressed concern to Wired because there’s not much clarity on what type of apple shape Apple — the company — is trying to gain rights over. It could include any visual representation, like “audiovisual or linked to new technologies or to media,” Mariéthoz said. 

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In 2017, Apple first sent an application to secure the trademark of a black-and-white image of a Granny Smith apple for electronic, digital and audiovisual consumer goods and hardware use to the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property. After IPI only partially granted Apple’s request, Apple submitted an appeal, and the case is now moving forward with what IPI didn’t trademark. 

As reported by Wired, a decision may not be known for months or years, and Apple also didn’t respond to requests for a comment. Apple has also made similar IP requests — with varying success — to other countries, including Japan, Turkey, Israel and Armenia. Wired also reported that in 2022, the Tech Transparency Project found that Apple filed more trademark oppositions between 2019-2021 than Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and Google combined. 

“We’re not looking to compete with Apple; we have no intention of going into the same field as them,” Mariéthoz said to Wired. “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.”

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