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Here are "Guidelines for Using Apple Trademarks and Copyrights" from Apple.

They say:

These guidelines are for Apple licensees, authorized resellers, developers, customers, and other parties wishing to use Apple’s trademarks, service marks or images in promotional, advertising, instructional, or reference materials, or on their web sites, products, labels, or packaging.

Further in text, under title "Unauthorized Use of Apple Trademarks", #3, we see:

  1. Variations, Takeoffs or Abbreviations: You may not use an image of a real apple or other variation of the Apple logo for any purpose. ...

So, my questions are:

  1. Does Apple consider an image of a real apple to be a variation of the Apple logo?
  2. Is it therefore true that no one may use an image of a real apple on their website?

I know there is a thing called "trademark fair use" and that its restrictions are in fact much smaller than they are of "copyright fair use" so there is a lot of cases where you can use the Apple logo itself, but Apple didn't even mention fair use in this document. And therefore my third question is:

  1. Did Apple break any law here by not mentioning "fair use" or by any other means?
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The linked document appears to clim more rights for Apple than it is entiteld to under US trademark law. It may be that it could require licenses of Apple trademarks, or those having other contracts with Apple, to agree to the conditions in this document. If the document is intended to apply only to people who have entered into such an ageement, it may be valid. That is not clearly apparent from anythign in the linked document itself, although its statement:

These guidelines are for Apple licensees, authorized resellers, developers, customers, and other parties wishing to use Apple’s trademarks, service marks or images in promotional, advertising, instructional, or reference materials, or on their web sites, products, labels, or packaging.

Might be taken to imply something of the sort. But people may wish to sell products that make nominative use of the Apple marks without agreeing to such a license, and other people may wish to prepare "instructional, or reference material" dealing with Apple products without obtaining any licensee or signing any contract with Apple.

Apple has the right to prevent others from using its trademarks in ways that say or imply that the user is affiliated with or endorsed by Apple, that goods or services are made by Apple (when they are not), or that might reasonably create confusion in the minds of consumers or members of the public. They have a right to prevent generic use of their marks so as to prevent dilution. They have a right to prevent disparagement, but this is limited.

They do not have a right to prevent advertising of compatible good or services from using Apples marks in a nominative way, to indicate that the product is comparable with some Apple product, nor do they have the right to control the grammar of such uses (adjective vs noun), nor the relative prominence of Apple vs other marks, provided that a reasonable member of the public would not be confused or deceived.

Apple does not have a right to prevent the use of their marks in reveries, including negative reviews. Apple does not have the right to prevent use of their marks in compare and contrast advertising, such as:

Dragon computers are 50% faster than Apple Macs.

Apple does not have the right to prohibit the use of images of real apples by people or firms who have not signed any contract with Apple, unless such images would lead to confusion, or imply endorsement or affiliation of some sort.

Various other claims are made in the document which are not valid as against a person with no agreement with Apple.

  • Actually they could properly object to your Dragon sample. The proper way would be "Dragon computers are 50% faster than Apple Mac computers". You have use trademarks as an adjective and you cannot convert it into a plural. There are very specific rules to use without permission. – user71659 Apr 23 at 22:54
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    @user71659 What law specifies such restrictions? What jurisdictions does it apply to? If in the US, has it been tested for First-Amendment implications, now that SCOTUS has ruled that trademark protections are limited by First-Amendment principles? – David Siegel Apr 23 at 23:03
  • @user71659 This law.se question and its answer: law.stackexchange.com/questions/39072 discusses Matal v. Tam and how it has applied First Amendment jurisprudence to trademark law. – David Siegel Apr 23 at 23:10
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We can't know for sure that Apple considers to be the case, but it is fair to conclude that someone at Apple considers an image of a real apple to be a variation of the Apple logo. Apple did not break the law by setting forth a long legal treatise on trademark law or even a short notice about fair use: there is no requirement that you educate others as to the law. It is not therefore true that no one may use an image of a real apple on their website, for example here, here and here. However none of those websites relates to computers. It probably would be infringing to use an image of an apple in connection with a computer business, because a consumer would almost inevitably think that the icon mean that the store dealt in Apple brand computers.

  • But Apple didn't say that only a computer company can't use an apple image. So it's not not educating, it's actually misdirecting to say that you can't use an apple image for any purpose – Valentin Drozdov Jul 2 '17 at 14:18
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    "These guidelines are for Apple licensees, authorized resellers, developers, customers, and other parties wishing to use Apple’s trademarks..." It's not addressed at you. – gnasher729 Jul 2 '17 at 14:42
  • Even if they said that, it's not illegal to be wrong. – user6726 Jul 2 '17 at 15:05
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    @gnasher729 Everybody can use any trademark name in their personal life. Therefore it's addressed to anyone. – Valentin Drozdov Jul 3 '17 at 13:53
  • @user6726 It may not be illegal, but it is ethical for an attorney (I assume an attorney wrote the document) to make that representation when they know it's false? – D M Nov 17 at 1:28
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Apple has no obligation at all to inform you about any relevant laws. AINAL - Apple Is Not A Lawyer, and AINYL - Apple Is Not Your Lawyer.

The document you refer to is explicitly addressed to "Apple licensees, authorized resellers, developers, customers, and other parties wishing to use Apple’s trademarks...". It's not addressed at the general public. Apple can give or deny permission to anyone to use Apple's trademarks, and is free to use any conditions. So Apple is clearly in their rights not to allow me to use their trademarks on my website if I also display pictures with apples on my apple tree in my garden.

@Valentin: I don't quite understand your problem. Apple can say "you can use our trademarks if you pay a million dollars, and you can't use them if you don't.". They can say that because it's their trademarks. They can say "you can use our trademarks, but not if display pictures of apples on your website". They can say that because it is their trademark. This doesn't mean anyone is required to pay a million dollars, or to remove all pictures of apples. Only if you want to use Apple's trademarks.

And the document says "other parties wishing to use Apple's trademarks". If you don't want to use Apple's trademarks, do what you like within the law. If you want to use Apple's trademarks, you have to follow their rules.

  • Maybe I don't understand the meaning of "other party". I thought any person or company (not neccessarily a computer company) is considered other party. And I still don't understand why Apple can "not to allow me to use their trademarks on my website if I also display pictures with apples on my apple tree in my garden." – Valentin Drozdov Jul 2 '17 at 15:03
  • Yes, but I don't know which law gives Apple rights to set any rules they want. There's trademark law, which says what is permitted and what is not. Maybe you confuse trademark with copyright. – Valentin Drozdov Jul 2 '17 at 15:14
  • @ValentinDrozdov: The fact that it is their trademark and that you can't use a trademark without permission. – gnasher729 Jul 2 '17 at 15:34
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    Please show me where it is defined. We talked about fair use, which itself makes trademark law limited. – Valentin Drozdov Jul 3 '17 at 13:51
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    @gnasher729 it is much too broad to say "you can't use a trademark without permission. " Many uses of a trademark are Nominative use or descriptive use and do not require permission. – David Siegel Mar 23 at 21:56

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