Apple has lost its trademark case against an Australian company using ‘i’ in its accessories portfolio brand name.
Sydney-based small business, Wholesale Central, attempted to trademark its DOPi (iPod spelt backwards) brand of accessories including USB drives, laptop bags and covers and cases for selected Apple products.
Apple protested the decision, triggering a tribunal overseen by IP Australia in January.
It claimed DOPi was deceptively similar to iPod. An Apple representative in the case noted the depiction of the letter ‘i’ would associate the goods with Apple products.
“Filing of the application should be seen for what it is – an attempt to piggy-back on the fame of the iPod trademark and the implicit use of the lower case ‘i’ in the industry where Apple is operating,” the Apple representative argued.
Apple also tried to argue that a person of ordinary intelligence and memory would wonder, or be left in doubt, about whether the goods come from Apple. But hearing officer, Michael Kirov, said Apple didn’t fully demonstrate a person could doubt or question if DOPi was produced by the computer company.
“Lack of evidence of actual confusion should not itself necessarily be fatal to the Opponent’s [Apple] case,” he said. But there were obvious differences between the two companies and it was common for companies to feature the letter ‘i’ in their trademarks, Kirov said.
“I am not satisfied use of the trademark for any of the goods would be likely to deceive, or cause confusion among, a significant number of consumers,” Kirov said.
Apple is well known for launching legal action against companies and brands it believes carry similar traits to its infamous trademarks. Recently, the vendor complained the Woolworths green apple logo was too similar to its own.
Last year, the company filed an appeal about a decision made by IP Australia on the use of Melbourne company’s name, Macpro Computers.