Apple vs Woolworths: Battle of the logos
By Stephen WITHERS
There's been a lot of uninformed commentary on various sites about Apple's opposition to Woolworths' trade mark application for its new logo. (My news story can be found at iTWire.)
I don't claim to be a trade mark expert, but I have been closely involved in a trade mark application that was opposed, so I have a little more knowledge of the process than the average person.
Are the two logos the same? No, but they don't need to be. The law uses the expression "substantially identical or deceptively similar".
Whether or not you think the two logos are deceptively similar is neither here nor there. It's up to the trade mark examiner - and ultimately the court - to decide, which they do largely according to precedent.
Clearly there is a degree of similarity, as they are both stylised apples. I believe Woolworths' position is that their logo represents a generic piece of fruit, but I can't see it as anything other than an apple. (Not that my opinion carries any more weight than the next person's!)
A lot of the nonsense being spouted concerns Apple's previous trade mark disputes with The Beatles' Apple Corps.
Apart from anything else, anyone that considers the Apple Corps logo to be similar to the Apple logo must surely concede that there is an equal or greater similarity between the Apple and Woolworths logos.
Much of the anti-Apple commentary taking that line also overlooks the fact that Apple paid Apple Corps millions of dollars to settle their trade mark disputes. The subsequent court case about the use of the Apple logo on the iTunes Store wasn't about the trade mark as such. The question facing the judge was whether Apple was using the trade mark in a way permitted by the contract between the two companies, and he decided in Apple's favour.
And although it is not really relevant to the Woolworths matter, Apple now licences the trade marks to Apple Corps.
Anyway, the whole thing will probably turn out to be a storm in a teacup.
My prediction is that Woolworths' logo will be registered as a trade mark, though maybe not in all of the classes listed in the application. And Apple will have been seen to have defended its own trade mark.
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By Drew TURNEY
I'd like to begin by offering my sincere condolences to anyone who paid money to sit through the latest Bruce Willis 'action' film Surrogates.
With a misguided design aesthetic that thinks big steel clanking doors means 'near future', every word far too desperate to be all zeitgeisty and subtextual and a curious absence of any action or thrills, Surrogates is one of the worst films so far this year.
But what makes Surrogates interesting is what it's telling us about ourselves. The film is set in the future where people sit in special chairs in their houses, never venturing outside. They're plugged into the real world through the use of robots (Surrogates) that go about their business in the world, working and playing at the operator's direction from the safety of the spare room and needing only the occasional recharge.
Apart from showing us how ridiculous Bruce Willis would look with hair, the movie taps into a strong social conscience issue. We're spending too much time on computers and the Internet, it says, and this is the inevitable result – sitting in dark rooms alone, thinking we're connected to the world around us just because computers give us ever-more accurate depictions of it.
It tells us we're scared of social media. How? Hollywood doesn't get many things right (subtlety, originality, the entire career of Stephen Sommers), but one thing it never misses is tapping into the western world's (read: US) mood about an issue. Every time there's an issue capturing the public debate, there's a 'that (insert issue here) movie'
Hollywood does this because the more a movie costs, the wider they have to pitch it to recoup costs. So we can be reasonably sure most people don't really trust the rise of the machines and technology across industrial and consumer sectors, despite economic gloom.
Focus group the average guy in the street and he'll probably say 'yeah, of course we spend too much time on computers'. When it comes to social media, much smarter people than me have occasionally found it kind of silly that the easiest way to connect with people who are supposed to be your friends is by doing it on a website so you don't have to actually meet or talk to them.
Those of us in technology either as pros or enthusiasts might scoff at such Ludditism. We can see the obvious benefits not just of technology in general but social media in particular. What's easier, emailing a thousand people that the weather's finally getting warmer in your town or you just bought a cool CD or just tweeting it or updating your Facebook status?
But who among us hasn't occasionally felt regret at it being such a beautiful day outside while we're stuck inside on a PC 'connecting'. There's a reason movies about computers are so hard to make exciting. We're entirely closed inside our own mind while we operate one, disconnected from the immediate environment by definition. So there's nothing more boring than watching someone work on a computer if you don't know what they're doing.
Maybe we're secretly just as scared at the rate of change as anyone, but we know computers as so inextricably entrenched in society there's no backing out, that if we even try we'll be left behind in the world?
So with the advent of such mass uncoupling from the people, weather, streets, cities and nature around us, might social media simply be the rise of a digital facsimile of what we hold so dear about living in the world – using our tactile senses to connect with it?
Social media technologies are an attempt to connect in a way the Internet 1.0 wasn't. Web pages are just digital book pages (more or less). Email is sending a view off in someone's direction that may or may not be responded to or shared. Even if it is, it won't be any time soon like in a normal conversation.
Might we recognise social media as more in line with our instinctively social ways? Is Facebook the backyard barbecue and Twitter the wayward, half-drunken declarations of opinions at the pub of the 21st century?
Is it possible we could end up so cut off from the rest of the world but thinking we're 'connected' just because we can read a lot of text or hear a lot of voices other people create?
And if so, will we all have hair as bad as a robotic Bruce Willis?
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Arthur C Clarke, The Odyssey File and Microsoft Outlook
By David HAGUE
One of the big things about production in the Internet Age (‘IA’ -I wonder if it will be called that a la the ice age, bronze age, stone age etc), is the opportunities available to collaborate with people in diverse places. Before ‘IA’, all we had was the phone (expensive), telex (impractical AND expensive) and fax (limited). Email was in its infancy, and the thought of sending someone large files such as images were – well, not thought of.
An insight how this was actually done is available in a book by Arthur C Clarke on how he collaborated with Director Peter Hyams on the making of 2010: Odyssey2 (The Odyssey File). At the time, it was riveting reading as this had never been done before, but reading it today is like pulling teeth. Using a lump of wood with a nail in it. In the dark. They were brave to even attempt it!
It wasn’t just the horrible transfer rate (1200bps), but also the inability of the tools of the day to be used to correct manuscripts and send them back, to have real time conversations and as mentioned the use of images. Today we have Skype, ftp, IM and a myriad of other things for collaboration. But if we take it back to the very basics of email, I am of the conclusion there is one tool that many, many use, but only about 5%, if that, of its functionality.
When you look under the bonnet (I cannot abide the noun “hood” in this context) there is a lot going on back there, just begging like a friendly Labrador to be let loose. I have no intention of turning this into an Outlook tutorial, that’s for you to work out. But a quick flick through Dymocks did show that even a lot of the tutorial books available don’t delve deeper than sending and receiving emails, attachments and other basics. The other back-end bits hangin’ around there such as Contact Lists, To Dos, Calendar, Journal etc have a lot of collaborative power behind them.
Have a delve.
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Business gets all warm and fuzzy
By Ian GRAYSON
Tired of big businesses that don't care about your needs? In a few short years, they could be acting more like life-long friends.
Any savvy business person knows that success comes from understanding your customers. But while many organisations pay lip service to this idea, few have the systems in place to help them actually achieve it.
This is where 'context-aware computing' comes to the rescue. Essentially its the concept of collecting as much data as possible about customers and using it to personalise your business relationship with them.
In many ways it's not new. Indeed online businesses have become quite good at using past purchasing patterns to make intelligent recommendations about what you might like to buy next.
But future context-aware computing will go even further. Data such as a customer's location, their social networks, behaviour patterns and employment history will be collated and used to forge more meaningful links. It sounds a bit like Big Brother, but it's coming.
According to research company Gartner the concept will be particularly applicable in the mobile commerce world, where things such as user location are easy to establish.
As a business, if you can tailor marketing messages to individuals and deliver them when they're in the best place to take advantage of them, a healthy boost to profits is likely to result.
Naturally, a thing such as context-aware computing raises issues of privacy. Just how much about our daily lives do we want big business to know? However, as people become increasingly used to posting details of their doings on social networking sites, such fears will no doubt subside.
In any case, if sharing a few personal details means you'll get significantly better service from business, I think it's a small price to pay.
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Foxtel Downloads - killer feature or meh?
By Adam TURNER
Will Foxtel's new download service help it gain or retain customers?
A few years ago Foxtel Download might have blown my mind, but these days it just looks like a poor man's iTunes or an honest man's BitTorrent. You can take a look at a video demo at the Foxtel Downloads site.
I thought the whole point of paying $70+ per month for Foxtel was that you'd never be short of something to watch on the idiot box. Considering your Foxtel Download access is restricted to the same channels as your Foxtel subscription, if you can't find anything worth watching on pay TV then you probably won't find much on Foxtel Download either. It's a download service, rather than Video on Demand, so you can't start watching movies straight away as you can with the iTunes store or a TiVo. You start watching them before they finish downloading, but I'm not sure exactly how long you have to wait.
Considering you need to plan your Foxtel Download watching in advance, wouldn't it be easier to program your Foxtel iQ personal video recorder to record something worth watching? Every Foxtel subscriber on a value package is set to get an iQ. By using the iQ you'd be saving on bandwidth for starters, considering Foxtel Download seems to chew through about 1.4GB for an hours worth of video - judging by the screen shots in the video demo. The downloads are not unmetered with any ISP, not even Telstra's Bigpond.
I'd say it's reasonable to assume that families with high monthly download limits are already sourcing video content from the iTunes store, Hulu (with the help of a VPN) and BitTorrent. Such families are unlikely to embrace Foxtel's download service unless it can match the range, quality and ease of use of these services. Like me, these people probably spend $50 to $100 on internet access each month in lieu of getting pay TV.
Meanwhile families who have resisted the lure of online video probably just aren't interested or aren't that tech-savvy. They're unlikely to want to spend more on their internet bill each month, especially if they're already spending a lot on pay TV. Quoted in The Australian, Foxtel head honcho Kim Williams had the nerve to call on ISPs to up their download limits so people could use Foxtel's download service. If he's looking for an ISP to criticise, he need look no further than the pathetic plans from Telstra's Bigpond (Telstra owns half of Foxtel, at least for now).
It's hard to see who would be interested in the Foxtel Download service considering Foxtel subscribers already have more channels than they know what to do with. It's not going to win new customers amongst the digerati who already download all their entertainment, nor will it win fans amongst the Mums n' Dads who don't want to embrace the internet.
I think the people who should be most excited about Foxtel Download are those with family or friends who subscribe to Foxtel but won't use the download service. You can use Foxtel Download on two PCs and it requires your account number and billing details to sign up. I don't see what's stopping tech-savvy twenty-somethings who have flown the nest taking advantage of Mum and Dad's Foxtel subscription to score some free content. Somehow I don't think that's what Kim Williams had in mind when he coined the phrase Foxtel Next Generation.
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