Apple battled a fashion brand called “Steve Jobs”—and lost

Now let me understand. You’re doing what with my name now?
Now let me understand. You’re doing what with my name now?
Image: Reuters/Dino Vournas
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Steve Jobs is best known as the founder of technology company Apple. Steve Jobs Inc. is something entirely different.

It’s a fashion brand and, oddly enough, aspiring electronics company based in Italy; and it registered the trademark to the name “Steve Jobs” with the European Union’s Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market in 2012. To Apple’s annoyance, it also registered a logo consisting of a “J” that looks a lot like it has a bite taken out of it, with a single, angled leaf sprouting from the top. It’s hard not to see the similarity to Apple’s logo.

Apple fought the trademark application, but as Business Insider Italia reports (link in Italian), it lost. The battle concluded in 2014, according to Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato, the brothers who founded the company. It is not immediately clear why the company chose to reveal this now, but the Telegraph reports that the brothers were waiting to extend their trademarks around the world and are now free to use them however they want.

At the moment, the company is focused on fashion, and denim in particular. Its Facebook page shows off items such as Steve Jobs jeans, and a Steve Jobs bag made from denim. “SPECIAL things are made by simple minds!” the post with the bag says.

But the brothers told Business Insider Italia they created the brand with electronics in mind. “Clothing and design are the industries in which we worked, but electronics have always been the goal of the Steve Jobs brand,” the brothers explained. They add that they’ll respect the Steve Jobs name, and would only make premium products. They’re in talks with a Chinese brand to produce the electronics.

They’re fully aware of the problems their line could cause Apple. “Imagine devices marked with the name Steve Jobs with Android as an operating system,” the Barbatos said.

But according to the brothers, Apple’s conflict with them was never over the Steve Jobs name. They say Apple has never registered a trademark on it. Indeed, “Steve Jobs” doesn’t appear on Apple’s public list of its trademarks, though the list is not exhaustive.

Instead, the conflict focused on that J logo with the leaf and the bite taken out of it. Unlike an apple, a letter “J” can’t be bitten, they argue (link in Italian). The European trademark office evidently sided with them.

We’ve reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story with any reply.

This story has been updated to more accurately describe the legal proceedings between Apple and Steve Jobs Inc.