Video game developer Apella Games has won a trademark battle against tech giant Apple, which tried to block the startup from registering its name and logo with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), claiming it was visually, phonetically, and conceptually similar.
In its February 21 decision, EUIPO rejected Apple’s claims that consumers could confuse the two marks and even associate Apella Games with Apple.
Founded and headquartered in Cyprus in 2020, Apella Games filed a trademark application almost two years ago, on March 17, 2021.
The company’s name is the English transliteration of the Greek word Apella, which was the people’s assembly in ancient Sparta. Its round logo depicts an ancient warrior helmet and a meander motif enclosing the letter ‘A’ in the middle.
Apple argued there was no reason for Apella to have chosen to use the mark in question.
“There are numerous alternative combinations of words and letters which could have been selected instead, that do not call to mind the Opponent’s APPLE Mark,” Apple said. Its arguments, filed after the deadline, consisted of 476 pages mainly of legislation and previous rulings.
“This tactic of swamping the Applicant with hundreds of pages of incomplete material speaks to Apple’s attempt to intimidate its opponents and block them from entering the market,” said Yana Raevskaya, Head of Prospectacy Ltd’s legal department, which handled the case.
“The fact that they submitted insufficient material that contained no evidence to substantiate Apple’s claims after failing to meet the deadline, raises questions as to the scope of the opposition.”
EUIPO rejected Apple’s arguments, saying the public would be able to tell apart the two signs, even if they share some of the letters.
It also rejected Apple’s claim that Apella Games would take unfair advantage of its distinctive character and reputation, pointing out that no evidence had been submitted to substantiate it.
“For these reasons, the Opposition Division does not find it plausible that the relevant consumer, who is considered reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect, might believe that the goods and services assumed to be identical come from the same undertaking or economically linked undertakings,” EUIPO said.
On March 17, exactly two years since the studio was founded, Apella Games will be launching a pre-alpha (not feature-complete) test of their first game, Rite of Titans, a Free to Play hero-centric 3v3 action game that combines arcade sports and ability-based competition.
Apple Inc. has two months to appeal the case.