Brand new Aussie fintech Pineapple has found itself in an unexpected legal battle with US tech behemoth Apple, which has taken issue with its name.
Launched on June 27 — which is, apparently, international pineapple day — Pineapple is a financial wellbeing platform designed primarily to help young people better manage their finances.
In coming up with the brand name, the founders worked with a business name expert, and underwent “a whole lot of user testing and research”, co-founder Kari Marsden tells SmartCompany.
Ultimately, it refers to the $50 note, “which as proud Aussies we know and love”, Marsden says.
But it’s also intended to represent “fun, sun and holidays” — one of the most common savings goals for young people.
The founders then set about the process of registering Pineapple as a trademark. Once a trademark is accepted by IP Australia, there’s a 30-day period of advertisement, during which other businesses can oppose the registration.
On the final day of the advertising period, Apple did just that.
It’s not clear yet what Apple’s particular argument is here. So far, all that is in place is the opposition to the trademark, and it’s expected to offer more details on the grounds of the complaint within the next few weeks.
“In reaching the name, we undertook extensive customer and user testing,” co-founder Luke Campbell says.
“We interviewed and surveyed about 250 people and it never came up as an issue in any of the research.”
Apple currently has a market cap of almost US$1.6 trillion. So it does seem unusual that it would take issue with a brand spanking new startup in Australia.
“We were really surprised to hear that Apple, being a trillion-dollar company, would want to pick on a startup like ours,” Marsden says.
“We’re as baffled as you are. We think apples and pineapples are something fairly different.”
Obviously, a lengthy legal process is the last thing these founders need. But it would be wildly disappointing to have to rebrand the business as well.
“We’ve put in a lot of work to launch the brand,” Campbell says.
“It would be very disruptive to us to have to re-brand our business, re-name our business.”
If nothing else, Marsden and Campbell just want to crack on with their business mission. About half of all young Australians are financially stressed, Marsden says. And, with unemployment skyrocketing, the COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse.
“We’re keen to move fast on trying to solve this problem,” she says. “We’re keen to not get too distracted by what’s happening with Apple.”
And at the same time, there’s a silver lining here. Marsden suggests the attention from Apple isn’t necessarily all bad.
“In some ways, it shows us that we’ve picked the right name,” she says.