Apple loses trademark battle that it probably shouldn't have started

Apella Games logo
(Image credit: Apella Games)

Apple has lost a trademark battle with Cypriot developer Apella Games. Apple claimed that customers would be confused, possibly mixing the two companies up or thinking that they were linked in some way.

Apple claimed that Apella Games was visually, phonetically, and conceptually similar, according to a report. But the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) disagreed and rejected Apple's arguments.

With the decision now made, Apple has two months to appeal the case if it sees fit.

The Apella iPhone?

Apella Games registered its name and logo with the EUIPO on March 17, 2021 following the company's creation in Cyprus a year earlier. Now, local news reports that a February 21 2023 decision saw the EUIPO side with the developer, despite Apple's protestations.

“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 reportedly said. The company filed 476 pages of arguments after the deadline had passed, with Yana Raevskaya, Head of Prospectacy Ltd’s legal department, saying that the move was nothing more than a tactic.

“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 Raevskaya. “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.”

The EUIPO said that people wouldn't be confused by the two companies' similar names, nor would Apella Games' Greek warrior logo be confused for an Apple with a bite out of it. Few people will walk into a carrier store and ask for an Apella Games iPhone 14, for example. Apple's best iPhones don't have a Greek warrior's helmet on the back, either. Although they might be even better if they did.

As for Apella Games, it's apparently getting ready to launch its first game this week. Rite of Titans will be available for download on Steam, not the App Store.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.