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  • Jules Petroz

    Tribune de Genève, Wednesday 13 September 2017
    Section: Litigation
    Page 17.

    Apple Inc. opposes the filing of the Apple Boutique brand by Genevan Jules Petroz.
    The antiquarian argues that this name refers to the Beatles shop of 1967 and not to the American multinational.
    Picture: Laurent Guiraud

    To defend his concept, he fights against Apple

    Antiquarian Jules Petroz is struggling with the American giant over a story of intellectual property.

    By Anna Vaucher

    It is a small arcade, 20 m2 at most, in front of which stands a wrought iron cart filled with books with yellowing pages.
    In the shop window of Apple Boutique, at 1, rue de l’Ecole-de-Médecine, a pop painting surmounts African masks and some pearl jewels surround a tiny statue.
    Jules Petroz, 56, is an antiquarian, from father to son, and dad of two daughters; a small trader like so many others in Geneva.
    Yet a struggle with a giant is not ordinary.
    His Goliath is Apple Inc., the multinational corporation that weighs more than 800 billion dollars, with which he has been struggling since last March over a story of intellectual property.

    For some years, business has been difficult – competition from online auction houses is tough – he was thinking about a new concept to sell his objects via the Internet.
    And decided to open an arcade – “To buy on the web, people need, to reassure themselves, to see that you have a physical address.”
    His idea? “Create a shop, a bit like a museum, with art objects and their derivatives.
    If you cannot afford the painting you like, you can buy the t-shirt or the mug with its reproduction.
    It’s about combining the decorative side, traditional antiques, memorabilia and vintage objects.”

    Beatles Reference

    A concept is good, but it still needs a name.
    He thought very quickly of Apple Boutique, with a logo whose ultra sixties red letters form an apple.
    “The reference has no connection with the American multinational, whose objects I appreciate,” he indicates, pointing to his giant screen on a beautiful old table.

    His own business model references the Beatles and their Apple shop, “popularly known as Apple Boutique”.
    Opened in 1967 with great pomp in Baker Street, London, it closed a few months later because of management issues.
    “It’s a tribute to the hippie epoch and iconic group of my childhood.
    Paul McCartney defined his shop as a beautiful place where beautiful people could buy beautiful things.
    I really like this idea.”

    Jules Petroz bought the domain name (www.appleboutique.com), which happened to be available.
    He registered it with the Commercial Register.
    “But by selling online, I figured I was going to go beyond Switzerland.
    So I decided to file my trademark with the Federal Institute of Intellectual Property (IPI).”
    The deposit is validated, the decision published.

    He was counting without opposition from Apple Inc., which within the imposed three-month deadline decided to oppose.
    In its letter dated 8 March 2017, the renowned law firm Lenz & Staehelin points out that the Apple trademark and its logo are very similar to those of Apple Boutique and that the Geneva antique dealer could not ignore it.

    Though it cannot comment on a procedure in progress, the IPI explains that in order to establish an opposition, “a mark must be older and protected for identical services”.

    For Nathalie Karam, Jules Petroz’s lawyer, the sectors targeted by her client (flea markets, paintings, books, clothing …) have nothing to do with those of Apple Inc.
    “My client is a small passionate antique dealer.
    His aim is not to open a chain of shops.
    I have called the attorney of Apple Inc. on numerous occasions to discuss this, but he has not replied.
    We have until September 15 to provide a brief with our arguments.
    I suppose my colleague wants to consult before entering into negotiations.”
    It will be up to the IPI to decide if the proceedings are to continue.
    The loser can then appeal to the Federal Administrative Court.

    Cake Sharing

    Though his means are limited, the small antique dealer wants to believe in his chances: “Apple Boutique has never been owned by anyone,” says Jules Petroz.
    I do not see how I can be criticized for naming my shop as it was called by the Beatles fifty years ago.
    I just want to be left in my little arcade, which will never hurt Apple.
    “Did he not show naivety in advancing along this path ?
    “They can not have it all. We too have the right to live.”

    Lenz & Staehelin informed us that Apple Inc. did not wish to comment on “this administrative procedure of opposition against the registration of a trademark by a third party”.