Street artist claims that Apple ad stole his slogan

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A New York street artist claims Apple stole his trademark slogan for its latest ad campaign. The line “You’re more powerful than you think” is used in conjunction with shots of people using their iPhone in various different lines of work.

46-year-old James De La Vega says that he’s been using the trademarked line for almost a decade as part of his “Become Your Dream” series. The line has been used in various murals and designs, and was even (by permission) incorporated into a graffiti motif used for a recent line of handbags and accessories.

“These guys (Apple) were well aware of that when they decided to use it as a way to motivate their base to buy their phones,” De La Vega notes.

So far, he’s filed a cease-and-desist letter, claiming that Apple is trying to trick customers into believing that he officially endorses its products. A letter sent by De La Vega’s lawyer says that he’s looking for a settlement.

“This is my way of building a movement,” De La Vega says. “[Apple] should pay me because I created it and they’ve used it to creation national excitement about a product and huge profits for themselves.”

  • Maxwell S. Overholt

    who?

  • Hardy Thomas

    hahah… its like me saying that the steps i invented in dance I have seen in movies after 3 years.. Let me sue them now.. LOL. its a sentence not a trademark…

    • Joshua D.

      some would say the same thing about apple’s dumb patents suing people over rounded corners and swipe to unlock is just as dumb especially when android devices look and operate nothing like iphones.

      • Maxwell S. Overholt

        compared to what came before (blackberry), they were major innovations.

  • Adrayven

    Ah? who is right! No clue as to who they are.. I think I heard that phrase in a movie.. think Kevin Spacy said it to some kid.. lol

    Now people are trying to trade mark whole sentences.. fairly soon we’ll all be paying royalties just to speak!

    • http://steamcommunity.com/id/metallinatus Metallinatus

      After people trademarked even squares with rounded corners…. are you surprised?

      • ericbrady

        Trademarks are different than patents, trademarks are slogans and names, not technology. Trademarks need to be used for commercial enterprise “trade”. Graffiti may count as commercial enterprise but I doubt it. Perhaps it could be copyrighted but that seems a stretch too…

      • http://steamcommunity.com/id/metallinatus Metallinatus

        Tell me, since when a square with rounded corners is “technology”?

      • ericbrady

        My point wasn’t to debate the validity of the “questionable” Apple patent, my point was to describe the difference between a patent and a trademark… big difference.

      • Kevin Hodson

        It’s the design patent of an Apple product. Jonathan Ive created a rounded corner for all of their products. If other people use that same design with those corners believe it or not it will look reminiscent of an Apple product and that is why it is patented. Companies want to make sure no other company can make something remotely close to their product because they want their product to be better. As ridiculous as it may be it is a valid patent.

      • http://steamcommunity.com/id/metallinatus Metallinatus

        Lá Vega created that line and he don’t want no one making something remotely close to his line because he want it to be unique. As ridiculous as it may be is a valid trademark.

      • Kevin Hodson

        … I never said it wasn’t.

  • Kevin Hodson

    This guy is so ridiculous. Apple wouldn’t copy something this stupid, they’d just make up another good marketing sentence.

    • Mac fanboy 252

      Haha – so Apple wouldn’t';t copy something this stupid — which is what they did, then you call it another great marketing sentence. Dumb is as dumb does.

      • Kevin Hodson

        They didn’t copy it they have no reason to. They’re a ~$200 billion dollar corporation. They have an extensive marketing team that works hours and hours and makes a lot of money to come up with stupid marketing sentences like this that are appealing to the consumer. They’re not going to copy some random guys sentence. They’ve got too many resources.

  • Capeman29

    OMG I totally though that… Um… What’s his name… Totally endorsed apple products! I’m shocked that.. Um.. Was it Joe?… Doesn’t!

  • lunchtkts

    Hang all graffiti artist!

  • http://steamcommunity.com/id/metallinatus Metallinatus

    Stop being biased, people…. Apple clearly stole that trademark and they must pay for it.

    • Guest

      Nobody knows who he is. We’re not being biased, it’s a ridiculous thing to trademark.

      • Nick V

        So then Samsung didn’t steal anything from Apple. Who is Apple but a bunch of mom jean’s wearing middle aged weirdos, right? It’s ridiculous that Apple would sue anyone? What a bunch of Fanboys!

      • Guest

        What do you expect on a site called Cult of Mac? The design of the samsung phones is obviously trying to copy the iPhone. I’d also like to point out that the galaxy phone released after the iphone will have the new features of the iPhone.

      • Joshua D.

        fingerprint scanners and gold were nothing new for smartphones, apple simply took the idea and improved on it like 95% of the things they “invented” or patent they are nothing more than rehashed or redesigned ideas so in essence samsung stole nothing.

        Also their is not a single android device that looks or operators like an iphone today (maybe in 2008 or 9 yes but not today) the iphone is an app drawer nothing more, android is a completely different platform.

        I don’t hate apple I use apple computers but don’t fall into the “copy cat” category because that is becoming a tired and annoying argument that when looked at closely is nothing more than a circle of hypocrisy.

        Every company has borrowed ideas from one another including apple, but borrowing ideas isn’t a bad thing, in fact borrowing ideas helps breed innovation and further build and improve technologies and software.

      • http://steamcommunity.com/id/metallinatus Metallinatus

        Fun fact: Apple tried to trademark the word “startup” in Brazil.
        Yeah, they are that stupid.

  • http://howieit.com Howie Isaacks

    This is ridiculous. If his “trademarked” slogan had actually been effective, all of us would know who he is. This is just a ploy to squeeze money from Apple. This B.S. he spouts about Apple’s profits tells us exactly what we need to know. He’s just jealous about Apple’s success. He’s probably an Android user too.

    • Joshua D.

      so all android users are apple haters? typical apple fanboy response get some perspective, sheesh.

  • Blackberry Rules

    if apple can try defending the name appstore why cant this guy too , stop the hate guys

  • Mac fanboy 252

    http://www.cnet.com/news/nokia-sniffs-at-apple-after-apple-um-borrows-iphone-movie/

    Apple is a repeat offender, and “this guy” is well-known in New York, and in the art world. But I guess David Choe is just another no-name. Apple also trademarked a number of ridiculous slogans like “Bonjour”, and tried (and lost) to stop some poor New Zealand company from using driPhone. Can’t be a crazed trademark grabbing, fighting, company and bot expect the same to you. Apple even stole the cover photo for the first iPhone!!!!!!!
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2013/12/17/apple-loses-a-trademark-case/
    .

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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