When is an apple with a cutout silhouette and a leaf on top just, well, an apple? A German family cafe and the American tech giant are trying to sort that out.
The Local Germany reported Wednesday that when Christin Romer opened her cafe in the west German city of Bonn last May she named it Apfelkind (apple baby) after a nearby apple orchard.
Then she commissioned a logo, which turned out to be a red apple with a cut-out silhouette of a child in a hat, and liked it so much she had it reprinted on cushions, chairs, cups and even a delivery bike.
"I wanted to do something like Starbucks, and have the logo as my trademark," she told The Local. "I was even thinking of eventually expanding and creating a franchise business so other people could open up other Apfelkind cafes, which is why I wanted to register the trademark."
Enter Apple, the world-famous computer giant, which sent her a letter from California headquarters last month saying its logo would be damaged by any trademark rights she might win for her apple and that in particular, the choice of the color red, the leaf on the apple stem and the shape of the apple could confuse consumers.
"At first I couldn't believe the letter," she told The Local. "Then I called my lawyer. The thing is, it was almost flattering to hear from Apple. I love Apple products -- I love design and am not terribly technical. I organize my cafe with my iPhone and Apple laptop."
Romer has refused to withdraw her trademark application, and said her lawyer expects the case to be resolved by the Munich Patent Office.
Apple would not comment on the story.