A report in the Globe and Mail tells the story of a small Vancouver Island school’s run in with tech heavyweight Apple Inc. in a dispute over the use of the school’s logo. Victoria School of Business and Technology (VSBT) reportedly adopted, three years ago, a logo featuring an apple with a silhouette of a mountain and the letters VSBT superimposed over top. VSBT’s apple has three bumps at the top of the apple, uses the colours blue, white and green quite prominently, and the apple is whole: no bite appears to have been taken out of it, as is the case with Apple Inc.’s well known logo. Apple’s logo, which is the subject of numerous registrations at the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) and which has been in use for over 30 years, features a bite taken out of the right side, two bumps at the top and no letters or other figures superimposed on it. In the marketplace, the logo is often depicted in an off-white colour; historically, it also often appeared in stripes and other colours as well.
As is often the case in these disputes, the media is portraying the issue as pitting VSBT’s “David” against Apple’s “Goliath.” The school’s website states that “VSBT is the leading provider of computer and business training for government ministries, corporation and individuals,” and indicates that training is available on both IBM-style personal computers as well as Apple’s MACINTOSH-brand computer systems. At the time of writing, we could locate no record in CIPO’s online trademark database of an application to register VSBT’s logo.
Interestingly, while Apple Inc.’s Apple logo is registered in Canada in association with numerous different wares and services – most of which relate to its line of popular computers, iPods and iPhones as well as its increasingly popular retail stores – the logo is not registered in association with educational services per se. Apple’s most relevant registration claims services described as “Operation and management of a group of people for the purpose of enhancing their knowledge of computer hardware and computer software.”
According to news reports, the school is not planning on giving up without a fight. VSBT is even running a poll on its website to determine public opinion on the issue of confusion between the two logos. We’ll keep an eye on this dispute and provide updates as they become available.