In the previous article we’ve promised to tell you a few things about Apple, words and names.
Steve Jobs, as brilliant and genious he was, seemed to have a problem with names.
The first story to be told is the one about the very name of the Company he’ve founded: Apple.
A declared fan of the Beatles (the British group that turned the world apart during the 60’s) it is highly improbable that Steve Jobs wasn’t aware of the fact that Beatles’ Record Label company was named « Apple ».
The Beatles founded it in 1968 and their vinyl records depicted apples under various forms.
But probably young Jobs thought that « Apple Records » in UK should be a totally different thing from « Apple Computer » in USA and saw no serious risks in using such a common word for a name.
And probably, if « Apple Computer » company wouldn’t have been so successful, it wouldn’t have been remarked by the British in 1978, just 2 years after having been founded.
A long series of law suites started then, opening and then settling various subjects since 1978 until 5 February 2007 when a final agreement was announced by the Companies.
« So what », you might say, « disputes over trademarks are just so common, why is this one so special to even mention it? »
Well, there are 2 reasons why it’s worth mentioning.
The first reason is the unbelievable price Apple Computers had to pay for its name: the 2007 settlement alone involved 500 millions USD according to the mass-media of the time. And this outside-the-court arrangement was the last but not the only.
The other reason is a rather funny one: Apple Computer seemed to have learned its lesson from the « Apple vs. Apple » case.
So they did their best to avoid any possibile trademarks infringements in the future.
For example, when releasing the « Macintosh » not only they’ve changed the spelling of Jef Raskin’s favourite type of apple from McIntosh to Macintosh, but they also paid to McIntosh Lab , a Company producing Hi-Fi equipment, a certain amount to license the name ( early Mac literature says « Licensed from McIntosh Laboratories, Inc. » ) and later bought all rights to the name outright.
Such exceedingly prudent approach paid off and no trademark issue ever happened to Apple regarding the name « Macintosh ».
But hey, you can never be too prudent: in 2005 Apple released a multi-button USB mouse device named « Mighty Mouse » and again made researches before the release and purchased the license to use the Mighty Mouse name from VIACOM, owner of CBS, owner of the Mighty Mouse notorious cartoon series.
Unfortunately, the CBS cartoon series trademark was covering all kind of merchandise like T-shirts or even multi-vitamins but not computer peripherals, such as mouse device.
Instead, that name for computer devices was actually registered by Man & Machine Inc, a supplier of water- and chemicals-resistant keyboard and mice devices, who sued Apple over the use of name.
A series of disputes started between CBS and Man & Machine, but Apple was already so sick and tired of all that, it stopped using the Mighty Mouse name, replacing it with Apple Mouse in 2009 and, at least until today, never used names from others for their products.
Because in 1994, when they’ve internally code-named the Macintosh 7100 « Carl Sagan », they got a cease-and-desist letter from Carl Sagan himself, even for as little as an internal, non-public code-name, not a comercial name following a public release.
Carl Sagan was a famous scientist who gained notoriety after publishing popular science books and most of all after co-writing and narrating the TV series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
Following his letter, Apple stopped using his name again, the engineers replacing it by « BHA » (standing for « Butt-Head Astronomer »).
Strange enough, although this was still an internal codename and also an abbreviation who could mean anything, Sagan learned about it and sued Apple for defamation.
He lost, then sued Apple again (this time for the initial use of his name), he lost again and finally, an out-of-court agreement was reached, Apple issuing an official statement it never intended to cause the scientist embarrassment or concern.
So, you see, that’s why ORPALIS is not a fruit, not a character’s name and not even an acronym: it’s just a small mystery instead!
See you next week !