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Bonn café stands up to Apple over trademark

Hannah Cleaver · 26 Oct 2011, 10:31

Published: 26 Oct 2011 10:31 GMT+02:00

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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.

Story continues below…

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.”

Hannah Cleaver (hannah.cleaver@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:13 October 26, 2011 by Bigfoot76
It is a bit overboard by Apple. The logo here does not even resemble the Apple logo in anyway.
13:09 October 26, 2011 by bartschaff
Does anyone else think this article looks a bit like disguised advertising?
17:31 October 26, 2011 by DoubleDTown
Frau Roemer's mistake wasn't in selecting the name and logo, it was to seek a German federal trademark registration. If she wants to say "I'm a small fry that Apple need not concern itself with" then she doesn't need a registration. If she had simply existed, she likely never would have heard from Apple. But once she filed that application, and it popped up on their international watch service, they've got to act. The article doesn't say exactly what Apple is objecting to either. Did Apple object to her use of the name, mark and logo for a cafe, or is the merchandising where they were more upset? How broad was the application she filed? Did she seek to protect the mark for a wide variety of goods?
18:32 October 26, 2011 by catjones
germans invented the apple. The irony is; they invented the patent office.
19:00 October 26, 2011 by hOU
I use apple myself too, the kit is decent.

but the company are f#c#k#n#g# c#n#s, always have been. Jobs, all is not forgive, you smelly, strange man.
21:36 October 26, 2011 by wood artist
Too bad Apple records didn't stop the use of an apple as a logo way back when. Good grief! Exactly how does this even remotely resemble the Apple logo? I'm sure lots of people will confuse a computer company with a cafe. I know I do every day. Give it a rest, Apple!

23:00 October 26, 2011 by ChrisRea
@ catjones

Is there any comment of yours not anti-German? Even if the article is not about Germans in general?
08:21 October 27, 2011 by catjones
ChrisRea.....thanks for the following. It's a Zen thing trying to maintain a balance in the world between unlimited self-aggrandizement and reality.
09:28 October 27, 2011 by ChrisRea
Ah, you mean we need to find somebody to counterbalance your posts?
23:15 October 27, 2011 by Mingus
Apple is transforming from a consumers electronic company to a greedy lawyers buffet.
15:31 October 28, 2011 by floridaboy
" ¦quot;I don¦#39;t have wireless internet here and don¦#39;t intend to provide it. This is a café for families and children,¦quot; "

Last time I checked, families AND children also use the Internet.
18:48 October 28, 2011 by expatriarch
@catjones is just a stupid person, as evident by her comments. Probably, I have to say with trepidation, a fellow American. Possibly stationed in Germany; where she is stuck on an installation (or even worse, for her, off base housing allowance) that limits her access to the things that her minuscule mental horizon can grasp and were so deeply ingrained in her mind during the few formative year she spent in a horrible education system back in the states that the limited access to the few things she can identify with causes her discomfort and makes her be grumpy and let out her stupid. I think CatJones just wants to go home to the things she knows, because new things make her brain hurt. But that's just a guess.
19:45 October 28, 2011 by Arlete Soffiatti
All the apple producers could sue Apple for using their product as a logo. Probably, Steve Jobs is in Heaven (or Hell) discussing the use of an apple by Eve. Greedy and shortsighted.
23:47 October 28, 2011 by PierceArrow
Apple is based in California, a land of fruits and nuts.
02:18 October 29, 2011 by Redwing
This Apple story remind me of a song we used to sing when hiking in a group. One verse went like this:

Klotz, Klotz, Klotz am Bein, Klavier am Bauch, wie lang ist die Chaussee?

Rechts 'ne Pappel, links 'ne Pappel, in der Mitt' ein Pferdeappel.
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