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Apple Loses 'Think Different' Trademark in the EU

The European Union's Court of Justice dismissed Apple's appeal to keep its iconic slogan.

Apple logo and "Think different" slogan on an iPhone screen
EU courts dismissed Apple's appeal to keep its trademark "think different."
James Martin/CNET

Apple isn't the only company allowed to "think different," according to a Wednesday ruling from the European Union's Court of Justice. The region's highest court dismissed the tech giant's attempt to keep its trademark, allowing any company in the region to use the iconic slogan.

The court's decision follows a 2016 request from Swatch. The Swiss watchmaker filed three applications with EU authorities aimed at annulling Apple's trademark, since Swatch claimed that Apple wasn't using the slogan anymore. Swatch's own marketing campaign at the time, however, was also using the slogan "think different."

In 2018, the Cancellation Division of the European Union Intellectual Property Office revoked Apple's trademark. Apple then appealed the decision and filed a case in Swiss court to stop Swatch from using the slogan in 2019. Both were dismissed. 

Then in January 2021, Apple brought three actions against Swatch to the General Court of the EU. Those actions were each dismissed yesterday as the court noted the Apple hasn't put the contested marks to "genuine use."

Apple first used "think different" in a 1997 marketing campaign and registered the trademark with the EU. The phrase was then registered again in 1998 and 2005. 

The company didn't immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.