Toggle Dark Mode
There is an Italian clothing company called “Steve Jobs” — and there isn’t anything that Apple can do about it, even though the brand’s name and logo are obviously indicative of the Cupertino iPhone maker.
The pair of brothers from Naples, who own the Steve Jobs company, managed to win the multi-year legal battle against Apple, earning the right to continue calling their company after the iconic co-founder of the Cupertino-based tech giant, The Verge reported, citing various Italian media outlets.
The legal fight began in 2012, when the brothers — Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato — noticed that Apple had never trademarked Steve Jobs’ name. The Barbato brothers were already in the process of starting their own clothing company, and they decided that “Steve Jobs” would be the perfect moniker for their nascent brand.
It’s not just the name that hints at the Apple legacy, however. The company’s logo is a stylized “J” with a bite taken out of it and a suspiciously familiar leaf. Apple sued the two brothers for using Jobs’ name, but focused on the fact that the Barbatos’ logo mimicked their own — that last move may have been a mistake, according to Italian outlet La Repubblica Napoli.
In 2014, the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office ruled in favor of the Italian brothers, rejecting Apple’s trademark opposition. The IPO decided that the Barbatos’ logo didn’t infringe on Apple’s own trademarked icon. The reason? The letter “J” is not edible, and therefore, the “bite” in the letter cannot technically be a bite mark.
While the Barbatos won the legal battle in 2014, they were barred from discussing the details of the case until now — due to the fact that the claim on the brand wasn’t settled until this year.
The brothers now claim to have full legal right to use the name and logo globally. They are reportedly continuing to work on products under the Steve Jobs brand, and currently sell a range of clothing items such as t-shirts, bags, jeans and accessories. But their ambitions may very well stretch beyond clothing.
In an interview with Business Insider Italia, the Barbatos state that the eventual goal of the Steve Jobs brand has always been to release “highly innovative” electronic devices — a project that they said they’ve been working on for “years.” Indeed, the brothers added that they’ve been in talks with various Chinese manufacturers, and have hinted that an Android-based Steve Jobs smartphone may be on the way.
Despite their obvious attention-grabbing plans, the brothers insist that they’ll “respect” the name of Steve Jobs. “We will not do anything low-level, you will never see phones or TV shoddy with the brand Steve Jobs,” the brothers told Business Insider Italia. “We will have very high guidelines.”
Of course, if Steve Jobs devices start popping up in the market, Apple will undoubtedly continue to contest the Naples-based brand’s hold on its founders’ name.