Bad PR: When is Reputation Management Not?

by PR Coach on September 23, 2012

Polish grocery A.pl sued by Apple


PCMag
ran a recent article about Apple suing a Polish grocery store A.pl. As a longtime Apple-everything fanboy, I was shocked. This lawsuit is a classic PR fail and an excellent example of poor reputation management.

As PCMag writer Stephanie Mlot reports:

“A.pl, which advertises straight-to-your-door delivery, goes by the full name A.PL Internet SA. While “.pl” is actually Poland’s country-wide domain, Apple is arguing a trademark issue, demanding that the Polish Patent Office cancel the site’s trademark. The main allegations, according to Telepolis, are the likeness of characters, and “the use of Apple’s reputation,” the site said.”

Right. A world leading technology corporation. An online Polish grocery store chain.

What is Apple Thinking?

Let’s compare logos shall we? Apple’s logos, A.pl corporate logo and the A.pl logo in question:

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah. I can see the similarities. Can’t you? NOT.

Let’s also compare the business and product similarities.

  • Apple: computers, tablet, mobile phones, music, apps, technology products.
  • A.pl: shower gel, granola, raspberry jelly, mouthwash, toothpaste, toilet paper, pickles, coffee, bread, milk, oranges, apples (Oops!), apple juice (Oops!), Apple-pear water (Oops!)

How about the corporate boilerplate, ie how each company describes itself?

  • Apple: “Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.”
  • A.pl: Shop Fresh24.pl supply comprehensive services in Warsaw offices, government offices, banks, shops, hospitals and educational institutions. We offer food products (coffee, tea, sweets) and all kinds of office equipment and consumable office supplies, stationery and small appliances.

Apple sells technology. A.pl sells potatoes and onions. Well, we can certainly see how A.pl is leveraging Apple’s reputation. Huh?

This may be my shortest post ever but it’s only because there’s so much steam coming out of my ears, I can hardly see my laptop screen.

I hope the new Apple stores start selling Polish dill pickles, sparkling water or soda. Because if I’m A.pl, I’ll sue Apple for all it’s considerable worth.

This one strikes me as being driven by lawyers. I’ve had that challenge in marketing and crisis management before. Lawyers lead with lawsuits. Lawsuits are the solution to every problem.

It’s certainly not in the true spirit of Apple’s creativity, innovation and marketing savvy. At the end of the day, you have to wonder if this will cost Apple more reputation harm and bad PR than the trumped-up legal claims.

This is not reputation management. This is a farce.

Other reading 

Apple alleges trademark infringement by Polish online grocer A.pl [Examiner]
Apple Sues Polish Grocery Store Over A.pl Name [PCMag.com]
Apple turns legal guns on Polish retailer A.pl [Reuters]
Polish This Apple: Cupertino No Fan of Grocer’s Special [Brand Channel]
Why is Apple Being Such a BULLY? [Wall St Cheat Sheet]

Visuals: Apple, A.pl