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The Hustle

Talk about going the extra mile. Once a week, 21-year-old South Carolina resident Sophia Celentano reportedly commutes to her summer internship in New Jersey by plane — because, she says, it’s cheaper than renting a pad for the whole summer.

In today’s email:

  • Apple vs. apples: More trademark shenanigans.
  • Meme law: Can you get sued for using a meme?
  • Another metaverse: There’s a goat auction for some reason.
  • Around the Web: Fake instruments, parks for stargazing, website conversion tips, and more.

👇 Listen: Our team rounds up the stories you need to know today.

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The Big Idea

Apple vs. apples

Let’s review a few historical events:

  • 47 years ago: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer Inc.
  • 111 years ago: Fruit Union Suisse, a farmer’s organization in Switzerland, was founded.
  • 5k+ years ago: Humans began cultivating apples.

As you can see, Big Tech Apple is the baby of the bunch, which is why this next bit is so confusing.

How about them apples?

Apple filed for IP rights on a black-and-white image of a Granny Smith apple with the Swiss Institute of Intellectual Property in 2017. Apple got some — but not all — rights, and filed an appeal earlier this year, per Wired.

As the courtroom fight continues, Fruit Union Suisse is concerned that if Apple receives broader rights, it might impact its ability to use its red apple logo.

Which sounds impossible, and yet…

… Apple’s done it before.

An investigation by the Tech Transparency Project found Apple filed 215 trademark oppositions between Jan. 1, 2019 and Dec. 31, 2021, including ones against the “Apples to Apples” card game and a podcast about an interdimensional witch doctor named Dr. Apples.

Focusing on the 118 oppositions involving US or Canadian applicants:

  • More than two-thirds targeted companies in unrelated industries.
  • Nearly 20% were related to education, a field often illustrated by apples.
  • Some were just using fruit: a musician’s trademark for her stage name, Franki Pineapple, and a company with a pear logo.

Smaller companies often can’t afford to fight, and may change their name or logo anyhow.

If this sounds familiar…

… it’s because we just talked about how Monster, the energy drink, does this with anyone who tries to use the word “monster.”

A paper on this so-called “trademark bullying” notes that India allows businesses to countersue for damages, and, on occasion, public shaming has worked…

… Though it’s hard to say if that would work on a company worth ~$2.9T.

Speaking of lawsuits: Apple once had to pay $21m for stealing a clock-face design from the Swiss Federal Railway.

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eyeball wearing a hat

Singapore Airlines came out on top at this year’s Skytrax World Airline Awards, AKA “the Oscars of the aviation industry.” Looking for a US airline? You’d have to page down the rankings a bit — Delta came in 20th.


TodAI in AI: Vimeo’s new AI features include a customizable teleprompter, and tools to write scripts and clean up audio. They’ll be available starting July via Vimeo’s $20/mo. subscription.

TikTok and content company Candle Media will partner to develop content, including working with underrepresented storytellers on #BookTok to develop film, TV, and audio projects.

Good news for theaters: The global box office increased 27% in Q1, highlighting a worldwide return to cinemas.

Drugmaker Eli Lilly will acquire Dice Therapeutics, a biopharma company that develops drugs for autoimmune diseases, for $2.4B.

Alibaba has a new boss: Co-founder Joe Tsai was named chairman of the Chinese ecommerce giant, even though Tsai’s current job — owning pro sports teams, like the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets — seems way more fun.

Tesla in charge: Following similar agreements with Ford and GM, Tesla has inked yet another competitor, Rivian, to a charger-access deal. Rivian drivers can use Tesla’s 12k+ Superchargers in the US and Canada starting next year.

Bootstrapping a startup is difficult, but it could be the difference between success and failure. Here’s everything you need to know about how to bootstrap.

Free Resource

The state of AI in marketing

Synonyms for “AI Specialist” are metastasizing on LinkedIn profiles at a breakneck pace.

To keep you ahead of the crowd, we rounded up the juiciest numbers and insights to explain how AI is impacting marketers in 2023. The bundled-up brainpower of 1.3k+ tactical pros sums up this slippery moment in history.

Read on for survey summaries, tips to implement, and use cases from the prompt pilots at 10Web and HubSpot.

2023 AI Trends for Marketers Report →
notable NFT sales

Zachary Crockett

Can you get sued for using a meme?

You’ve likely seen Success Kid.

The image depicts a toddler smugly clenching his fist on a beach. In meme form, it’s typically overlaid with a caption describing an unexpected triumph like not getting spaghetti sauce on a white shirt, or finding a $20 bill in an old jacket.

It’s been shared tens of millions of times, and in endless variations, bringing collective joy to the internet.

But last year, Success Kid was at the epicenter of a thoroughly humorless legal battle in an Iowa courtroom that dealt an Iowa politician thousands of dollars in damages and a mountain of legal fees.

Memes like Success Kid are so ubiquitous that we often think of them as a public utility.

  • According to one survey, the average millennial looks at 20-30 memes every day. On Instagram alone, some 365m of them are shared each year, often without credit.

But many of the internet’s favorite memes are lucrative commercial entities. And their owners occasionally take action to protect them.

Read the full story →
Re: Verse
goat auction

Just what nobody’s been asking for: Another metaverse offering

Keep taking big swings and you’re bound to miss, but lately, investment giant SoftBank has whiffed in truly spectacular fashion:

  • Its Vision Fund had a rough last fiscal year — like, $32B in losses rough.
  • It has ~$12B invested in troubled WeWork — where SoftBank’s handpicked CEO made New York Times headlines for “abandoning ship” last month.
  • And Zume, SoftBank’s $375m mobile pizza-making robot, shut down after it couldn’t overcome a fatal flaw: cheese flying around whenever its trucks moved.

What’s next for SoftBank?

Oh, just hyping another big bet: a network of metaverses, the thing many other influential companies are retreating from.

SoftBank-funded Improbable detailed its upcoming project MSquared last week, which, according to CNBC, calls for a 3D virtual space where 10k+ people can concurrently live, work, and interact, with an emphasis on “interactive entertainment experiences,” like parties, games, and concerts.

  • A chaotic demo video for MSquared shows people dancing en masse and a frantic, crowded auction for a statue of a goat.

What differentiates it?

MSquared will be available through cloud streaming, so it won’t require any software or, say, a $3.5k device to access it.

Improbable is courting partners to develop experiences — and if all goes according to plans, per CNBC, MSquared will be available via desktop, then eventually mobile devices and gaming consoles, by year-end.

So, uh, get ready to duke it out with 9.9k dancing friends at a virtual goat auction, we guess?

Some good news: It’ll be hard for Improbable to lose more money on the metaverse than Meta already has (its Reality Labs division lost $13.7B last year).

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🚀 On this day: In 2004, aerospace engineer Burt Rutan’s SpaceShipOne became the first private crewed ship to reach space, flying 62.5 miles above Earth.

🎹 That’s cool: The Museum of the Imaginary Musical Instruments is a rabbit hole of a website, full of entries like “the cat piano” and the “torturetron.”

👀 Video: Generating lots of web traffic only to see it bounce? Website conversion means turning your visitors into customers. Here’s how.

🌠 Useful: Smithsonian magazine rounded up national parks hosting stargazing festivals this year.

🥕 Aww: And now, a snack.

family group chat meme

Ah, the family group chat: a barren wasteland — until someone needs a favor. (Link)


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Today’s email was brought to you by Jacob Cohen and Juliet Bennett Rylah.
Editing by: Ben “An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but it’s the lawyers you’ve gotta worry about” Berkley.

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