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Sri Lankan company defends logo similar to Apple

Stassen Exports (Pvt.) Ltd. is in a different trademark classification and therefore the use of a similar logo such as world-renowned US tech giant Apple Inc.is not an issue, the Company said.

Legal action has been filed against Stassen Exports (Pvt) Ltd. for the use of a logo in one of the it’s products similar to that of Apple Inc.

President’s Counsel (PC) Nihal Fernando, who is representing the defendant Stassen Exports (Pvt.) Ltd. said the company falls under the Class 30 trademark classification that is mainly used for types of food, drinks, and cooking ingredients, as it had used the logo on one of its tea brands.

Fernando told the Sunday Morning that since Apple Inc. did not fall under the same classification, the use of a similar logo should not be an issue as it would not create any confusion between the two brands.

Apple Inc. filed an Intellectual Property action in the Commercial High Court of Colombo by way of Plaint dated 21st January 2020 against Stassen Exports (Private) Limited, in line with a strong stance taken in protecting their Intellectual Property Rights worldwide.

The Plaintiff, Apple Inc., set out in its Plaint that, in the backdrop where “Apple” is one of the most well-known and valuable international brands and the “Apple” device mark of the Plaintiff, consisting of an apple with a leaf slanting to the right and a distinctive bite taken out of the right-hand side, is one of the most famous and widely recognised marks of all time, the Defendant, Stassen Exports (Private) Limited, had dishonestly applied for and obtained registration of a mark unlawfully/unfairly resembling the said “Apple” device mark of the Plaintiff.

Co-founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and incorporated in 1977, Apple Inc. is a global leader and innovator in mobile communication and media devices, personal computers and related software, services, accessories, networking solutions and third-party digital content and applications, being the company behind internationally-acclaimed products, services and applications such as iPhone, iPad, Mac, iPod, Apple Watch, Apple TV, iCloud, Apple Pay, iTunes, App Store, Apple Music, Apple Books and much more. It is one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world by market capitalization and one of the highest valued corporate entities of all time, becoming the first publicly traded company in the United States to be valued at over US$1 trillion in August 2018.

The Plaintiff pleaded that the Defendant’s mark ought to be nullified under Section 134 of the Intellectual Property Act No. 36 of 2003 as well as on the grounds of the registration amounting to an act contrary to honest trade practices in contravention of Chapter XXXII of the Intellectual Property Act.

The Defendant appeared in court on 17th June 2020, the summons returnable date, and the Learned High Court Judge M. Ahsan R. Marikkar, fixed the 19th of August 2020 as the date for the Defendant to file its Answer.

Apple Inc., the Plaintiff, was represented in Court by Dr Harsha Cabral, President’s Counsel, who appeared with Mr. Nishan Premathiratne and Mr. Migara Cabral, on the instructions of Ms. Juanita Desiree Perera.

The Defendant, Stassen Exports (Private) Ltd, was represented by Mr Nihal Fernando, President’s Counsel, with Mr Harshula Seneviratne, on the instructions of Mr. Upendra Gunasekara.

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