"I started working at a startup last week. Before you ask, no, I don't sell iPads."
- Apple already filed for this trademark in 2011 in the US and China. They were granted a preliminary trademark pending a routine examination period where people can object to the trademark. The objection window began in 2012 and objections were filed. In March of this year, the USPTO mailed a "non final action" to Apple, starting a 6 month window in which Apple gets to respond to the objections. That window apparently closes next month.
- The trademark filed in Australia is under the same international registration as the ones in the US and China filed in 2011: 1081614. The international registration is important to this particular case because it's Apple exercising its rights under the Madrid System, which allows companies to secure their trademarks in any Madrid Union member state by filing a simple application. Australia, China, and the US are all Madrid Union member states.
- It's specifically for "Retail store services featuring computers, computer software, computer peripherals, mobile phones, and consumer electronic devices, and demonstration of products relating thereto", indicating Apple intends to launch some sort of retail service called "Apple Startup" or similar.
- With a few exceptions, trademarks are restricted to the areas covered in the application. Assuming Apple is granted the trademark, it does not mean that they now own the word "Startup".
They already pretend they own the word "apple" and any logos of apples, even when they are not used by tech-related companies. I wouldn't put it past them to continue being a bully as they accumulate more words and symbols that they think they "own".
This being said, if I got a call from their attorneys on this, I would be sorely tempted to respond with something like:
"We are a business startup and will consider your request. At the moment though I am eating an apple, while writing something up in EMACS though not on an eMac. I will call you back in a few from my Linksys iPhone."
Many uses will be completely acceptable and if you do not enforce against them you will not lose your right to enforce against unacceptable uses.
As in, their lawyers won't think twice trying to intimidate someone and will most likely knee jerk react to every use.
In my experience, most lawyers are reasonable people who will understand the limits of a trade mark better than anyone else. It's often the commercial people who are telling the lawyers to pursue an infringement against the lawyer's advice.
Actually you only have to enforce it in the cases where someone else might argue undermines your trademark, which is far wider.
No startup will ever use the word "startup" in its trademark.
No, no. I don't know who reports to who. Do you want me to guess?
What's it about? uh, let me ask.
Ok. they say they've trademarked 'Apple' and want to talk about a license
Oh, ok. Can you ask them if Steve can also join the call?
You can also only enforce your mark against someone using a mark in the course of business (at least in the UK) which would obviously exclude a whole range of potential third party uses.
This could be a defensive filing in preparation for one more thing...
Are they even sane?
Who uses the term "startup" anyway? (in a business context)