Apple's brand is certainly among the most valuable and recognizable in the world. Apple also happens to be the most valuable company on earth, worth around $1.9 trillion at the time I'm writing this. You could understand, then, why the company would be protective of its logo, especially in the case where another company might try to capitalize on it in an attempt to confuse consumers.
That's because a trademark is only good if you're willing to defend it from anyone who might want to infringe on or capitalize on the goodwill associated with your brand. And so, Apple has filed an objection to the trademark application for Prepear, a meal-prep company with an app for organizing recipes and meal plans.
According to Apple:
Consumers encountering Applicant's Mark are likely to associate the mark with Apple. Applicant's Mark consists of a minimalistic fruit design with a right-angled leaf, which readily calls to mind Apple's famous Apple Logo and creates a similar commercial impression.
Apple goes on to say that because it offers other health-related apps and has "services related to computer software, as well as healthcare, nutrition, general wellness, and social networking," and that "Applicant's services (e.g., food and meal planning-related services) are within Apple's natural zone of expansion..." consumers might confuse Prepear's logo for Apple's, or assume it is associated with Apple.
Literally no one, except perhaps Apple's lawyers, would be confused by the Prepear logo. Seriously, no one will ever mistake its distinctly pear-shape for Apple's famous apple.
You can even judge for yourself:
This brings us to a lesson: Apple has long built its brand--the brand represented by that logo--on the idea that it stood for the little guy fighting against the giant corporate machine. Its most famous attempt to establish that brand is the iconic '1984' commercial that literally had a woman throw a sledgehammer through a giant screen that represented the 'machine' of IBM.
For many years, Apple really was the underdog. It's still a far smaller computer manufacturer by market share, and macOS runs on less than 10 percent of personal computers, compared to Windows, which runs on more than 87 percent. But Apple is a lot more than Macs, with the iPhone representing its largest business by far. The iPhone is also what made Apple an almost $2 trillion company.
It isn't the underdog anymore, but it still fosters the same kind of brand loyalty because of its intense focus on the customer experience, both in terms of the hardware and software it builds, as well as the services it provides. Apple's users love being associated with the company because of what it represents.
The problem is that recently, Apple seems more concerned with protecting its empire even when that conflicts with its brand. Combine this with the recent fury over Apple's App Store policies, and it's becoming clear that Apple is now that giant machine. As a result, it's done what no brand should ever do: betray the very values that made people love it in the first place.
I suppose you can sum it up with this statement from Apple's opposition to Prepear's application:
"Apple would be damaged by the registration of Applicant's Mark in connection with Applicant's Services because Applicant's Mark so closely resemble the Apple Marks that it is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception in the minds of consumers..."
No it won't. But picking unnecessary fights over a logo that no one will ever confuse with Apple will do far more damage in the long run. That's something every business should learn from.