A Steve Jobs Android phone? Oh please don't

Commentary: Two Italian fashion entrepreneurs say they've secured the rights to the "Steve Jobs" trademark worldwide.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives    


The world needs this?

Vincenzo Barbato/Facebook screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

If there's one thing everyone remembers about Steve Jobs, it's his sartorial elegance.

The black turtlenecks, the slightly baggy Levi's jeans and the New Balance sneakers were the required look for everyone who was anyone.

Surely you remember George Clooney wearing them all the time.

Now, two Italian fashion entrepreneurs say they're going to release clothing -- and perhaps even electronics -- under the "Steve Jobs" brand name.

As La Repubblica of Naples reports, Vincenzo and Giacomo Barbato noticed that the Apple co-founder's name hadn't been trademarked in Europe.

So, in 2012, they began the painstaking process of getting it.

"We did our market research and we noticed that Apple, one of the best known companies in the world, never thought about registering its founder's brand, so we decided to do it," the brothers told La Repubblica. 

They say when Apple first heard of their application, Cupertino's lawyers objected. 

"At the beginning we had a bit of fear. It seemed to us to undertake the typical battle of David against Goliath. We felt that we were on the side of reason and went ahead through legal means, until we had the law on our side," they explained to the Italian paper.

Reason, you might think, has many sides. Would anyone really want to buy a pair of Steve Jobs-branded jeans? And given that everyone knows he wore Levi's, the reason can't be authenticity, can it?

Neither Vincenzo Barbato nor Apple immediately responded to requests for comment. 

I did find two trademarks for "STEVE JOBS" and "steve jobs" that had been approved by the European Union's Intellectual Property Office.

The former expires on July 14, 2022, the latter on April 29, 2023. Both were registered to Vincenzo Barbato.

The Barbatos' "Steve Jobs" logo will surely make one or two Apple fanpersons wince. The "J" of Jobs has a bite out of it. Yes, just like the Apple logo.

The brothers say the courts sided with them after Cupertino objected to this logo. 

"Apple attacked us on a particular of the logo: the J that appears bitten, recalling the famous apple. But a letter is not a fruit and consequently that on the letter can not be a bite. That we were unassailable by every point of view," the brothers told La Repubblica. 

The letter is not a fruit. That sounds like something René Magritte surely wishes he'd painted.

The brothers told Business Insider Italia that they have now registered the brand all over the world. I couldn't find it in the USPTO registry

They added: "We want to safeguard the image of the person who was Steve Jobs."

"Is it really their place to do that?," I hear you mutter.

Some might think this tale reeks of a slight carelessness on Apple's part. 

Some might fear, indeed, that we can now expect a Steve Jobs phone.

"The brand was born absolutely for electronics, but we can not yet reveal specific products," the brothers told Business Insider.

They added that they're working on "very innovative electronics devices." 

Well, when a brand is born for electronics, what can you do?

As for a Steve Jobs-branded Android phone, oh, you can guess. The Business Insider article posits just that.

I will now don my Guglielmo Marconi socks, my Marie Curie dress shirt and my Alexander Graham Bell-branded trousers and await what happens next.