Christin Römer opened her family café this May, naming it after the orchard growing nearby with the intention of creating an impression of a healthy, tasty and friendly place to go for a coffee and piece of home-made cake – apple and other options are usually on offer.
The 33-year-old commissioned a logo for the café – a red apple with a cut-out silhouette of a child in a hat – and liked it so much she got it printed on cushions, cups, chairs and even a delivery bike.
“I love the logo and have used it everywhere,” she told The Local.
“I wanted to do something like Starbucks, and have the logo as my trademark. I was even thinking of eventually expanding and creating a franchise business so other people could open up other Apfelkind cafés, which is why I wanted to register the trademark.”
She said she sells the Apfelkind cups and shopping bags, and had ideas to even branch out into the fashion business – using fair-trade principles and contacts she has in South America.
Yet her ambitions were dealt a blow when a letter arrived last month from California. It told her that Apple saw a clear danger of confusion between their logo and hers, particularly regarding Römer’s choice of red for the logo, the leaf on the apple stem and the shape of her apple.
Apple’s logo would be damaged by any trademark rights she might gain for her apple, the letter said, demanding she withdraw her patent application for a range of applications. This would prevent her from using the logo on toys or more crucially for services, which Römer said would prevent her from expanding on a franchise basis.
“I’m not going to accept that,” she said. “At first I couldn’t believe the letter – then I called my lawyer.”
She has refused to withdraw her trademark application, and says her lawyer expects the conflict to be decided by the Munich Patent Office.
“The thing is, it was almost flattering to hear from Apple. I love Apple products – I love design and am not terribly technical. I organise my cafe with my iPhone and Apple laptop.”
She said that although she always had her iPhone with her while working in the café, she had not created the kind of place where people would want to go to use their computers. “I don’t have wireless internet here and don’t intend to provide it. This is a café for families and children,” she said.
Apple spokesman Georg Albrecht told The Local the company would not comment on the story.
Meanwhile Apfelkind is busier than ever, said Römer. “People are coming in out of curiosity, and even solidarity.”