How did Apple manage to get its trademark?


I mean, isn't "Apple" a bit generic ? Could that kind of word still be trademarked in 2010 or would the request be rejected ?

Legal Trademark

asked Jan 21 '10 at 11:00
Olivier Lalonde
2,753 points
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4 Answers


Trademarks apply with a scope.

For example, you can have a "McDonald's" hardware store.

Some trademarks and service marks also include the styling (font) of the word. So Apple can certainly trademark their name as a logo with a particular font.

Amazon is another obvious one.

answered Jan 21 '10 at 11:26
16,231 points
  • Yep, don't forget, the Beatles started their record company whose name is Apple as well, and that is the "original" company named Apple. The test for infringement is "will it cause market confusion?" In other words: Will it confuse the customers? In that light, it's interesting to see how the lawsuits play out now that Apple the computer company decided to get into music (iTunes, etc...), and Apple the music company is not happy about it. – Gabriel Magana 14 years ago
  • Yes exactly. Until Apple entered music it wasn't an issue, then it was. – Jason 14 years ago


According to the trademark law, trademark word candidates are divided into five categories, from (a) fanciful words - strong trademarks, to (e) generic terms - not protectable at all. The stronger the mark, the more protection it will be given against other marks. The categories, ranked in decreasing order in terms of strength, are:

(a) Fanciful Marks—coined (made-up) words that have no relation to the goods being described (e.g., EXXON for petroleum products).

(b) Arbitrary Marks—existing words that contribute no meaning to the goods being described (e.g., APPLE for computers).

(c) Suggestive Marks—words that suggest meaning or relation but that do not describe the goods themselves (e.g., COPPERTONE for suntan lotion).

(d) Descriptive Marks—marks that describe either the goods or a characteristic of the goods. Often it is very difficult to enforce trademark rights for descriptive marks unless the mark has acquired a secondary meaning (e.g., SHOELAND for a shoe store).

(e) Generic Terms—words that are the accepted and recognized description of a class of goods or services (e.g., computer software, facial tissue).

answered Jan 21 '10 at 15:52
Output Logic
341 points


My understanding is that sometimes words become "famous marks" because of widespread use. Apple is a good example...very, very unlikely they would issue a trademark for that word even in a completely different market....because the word Apple is so widespread in society.

One trick is to trademark the word with .com at the end....and always use it that way...

Amazon trademarked "".

answered Jan 22 '10 at 00:55
Chris Dansie
491 points


They have plenty of others: Trade Marks. Not sure "Apple" is the most general in this list. I think the key to using this name is to not be in the computer business. There is a company called Apple Reit Companies. And their logo is an apple.

answered Jan 21 '10 at 11:25
Jeff O
6,169 points
  • And Apple Records ;) – Jorgem 14 years ago

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Legal Trademark