Can a famous name be trademarked by a startup? Surprisingly and nearly unnoticed, an Italian start-up has secured the name “Steve Jobs”.
The European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) ruled against Apple in the Barbato case in favour of the Italian startup as early as 2014. Brothers Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato noticed already 2012 that Apple apparently never had protected the name of the famous founder – but, of course Steve Jobs died in 2011, so pretty close to the registration of Steve Jobs as a registered trademark. Since the two Italians were planning to start a new modern fashion company, the name “Steve Jobs” seemed to suit them very well as a brand for current fashion. The trademark protection they applied for was granted and confirmed by the EUIPO in 2014. In addition, the Italian startup developed a logo in which the J of jobs was linked to a cut sheet. With a bit of imagination, this looks like an apple bite.
In the 2014 lawsuit, Apple tried to assert a violation of the Apple logo. And indeed, the J is biting and reminiscent of the famous apple. But a letter is not a fruit, and therefore the letter of the logo cannot be a bite, EUIPO said. Therefore, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica Napoli reports that this accusation has not been accepted by the European Intellectual Property Office.
The fact that the verdict has only just been announced is due to the secrecy of both sides. The Barbato brothers used the time to secure the name “Steve Jobs” worldwide. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to further legal proceedings.