Prepear vs Apple logo dispute is a cautionary PR tale
The recent story of a small U.S. business unwittingly locking horns with the biggest brand in the world has prompted huge sympathy as well as global publicity for an app that relatively few had heard of.
If you've not read about this yet, I'll bring you up to speed. Prepear, a healthy recipe app with 21,000 monthly active users and five employees, is now battling Apple – no introduction needed – to be able to continue using its logo which is... a pear.
In its legal filing with the US patent and trademark office, Apple said the pear logo "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."
On Instagram, Prepear founder Natalie Monson claimed Apple had done this to other small businesses with fruit logos:
Visit Prepear.com and it couldn't look less like a wannabe brand Apple. While the logo is indeed fruit, and arguably minimalist, Apple (surely) does not have the monopoly on minimalist fruit?
As such, a wave of social media posts and articles have sympathised with Prepear, not least because we're hardwired to root for an underdog, but also because there is nothing more ugly than seeing a giant punching down, especially at a time when small businesses and startups, beleaguered by a pandemic, need support.
Apple's PR machine has stayed silent on the matter. While this is quite normal for Apple's PR department (one wonders what they do), it's hugely damaging to a brand that has long positioned itself as an outlier. Such pedantry, such tactics simply don't chime with what Apple has built.
Tech columnist Jason Aten said it best in his article for Inc: "For years, the company represented the underdog. Now it's firmly on the other side."
On the upside, Prepear is now swimming in press and social media mentions that'll increase its exposure, its credibility and its search engine rankings. If it continues telling the story, and dealing rapidly and sensibly with questions and requests for comment from journalists, it could spin this PR opportunity out for months. As long as this dispute doesn't hurt Prepear beyond repair of course.