Jason Hartman looks at a potential market crash but not in the housing market. He welcomes Russ Munson in the interview segment to do a client case study and discuss Russ’ story about a legal battle with Apple over trademarks and a Pear logo. Russ talks about his journey into real estate and how it has supported his food business.
Welcome to the creating wealth show with Jason Hartman. You’re about to learn a new slant on investing some exciting techniques and fresh new approaches to the world’s most historically proven asset class that will enable you to create more wealth and freedom than you ever thought possible. Jason is a genuine self made multimillionaire who’s actually been there and done it. He’s a successful investor, lender, developer and entrepreneur who’s owned properties in 11 states had hundreds of tenants and been involved in thousands of real estate transactions. This program will help you follow in Jason’s footsteps on the road to your financial independence day. You really can do it on now. here’s your host, Jason Hartman with the complete solution for real estate investors.
Jason Hartman 0:53
Welcome to Episode 1553 1553 We’ve got a guest today, one of our clients actually who’s going to talk a little bit about his real estate investing experience. But also he’s going to talk about something interesting. And it is another form of this abuse and bullying by big tech. I tell you folks, you might think why is Jason talking about this so much on a on a real estate investing personal finance show, because it is important. This is like one of the major issues of our time, when we search for something with a company that controls somewhere around 70% or more with YouTube, talking about Google, of course, of the world’s search traffic. We never know what we don’t see, you know, search results. When we log on to Facebook. We never know what doesn’t show up in our news feed. You can’t hear the dogs that don’t This is a big deal. Now, this example today is an example of trademark trolling. Well, you’ll be the judge. I don’t know, that’s my opinion, I could be wrong. But you’re going to hear a pretty harrowing story here from one of our clients I and also you can talk a little bit about his investments and how it made it possible for him to start his company and gain financial freedom by starting to invest in properties with us, maybe, I don’t remember but maybe 910 years ago, something like that. So he’ll tell the story in just a moment. But before that, you know, I think a lot of people are making a huge mistake out there, and I’m hoping I can save you from it. Now listen, I am looking for this deal, too. We are in a pandemic. And everybody is out there thinking well, not everybody. I say that figuratively, of course, it’s figure of speech. But many people are out there thinking, well, there’s going to be a market crash. The economy is in trouble. Yes, you are right. But this is very uneven what’s going on in the world right now? And a lot of apartment owners and other investors are talking about this phenomenon look on the screen, apartment rent collections continue to decline. And that is true. But the question Remember, you listeners and viewers and followers have called it I didn’t name it this. You’ve called it the Jason Hartman question. I’m flattered. I love it. I’ll take it. I’ll take it for sure. That question is, if you’re a regular follower, you know, compared to what, compared to what we have to realize first, that no apartment owner, no real estate investor ever collects 100% of their rents. It just doesn’t happen. They have economic vacancy, and they have physical vacancy. Now physical vacancy is of course when the property’s vacant and no one’s paying you rent. Economic vacancy is when the property He is occupied, and they’re not paying rent and you got to kick them out. Right. But there’s been so much talking concern about the eviction moratoriums and all that stuff. And, you know, the forbearance and you know, the owner generally just passes it along to the lender, right? But, folks, you got to realize something. This issue is largely an issue of larger, mostly institutional apartment investors. Now, I’ve owned a couple large apartment complexes, 139 units, 125 units, I’ve got a mobile home park now that’s 120 units, and we’re building some single family homes on that land on the park because we’ve got some waterfront area there, where we’re not gonna have mobile homes, we’re gonna have single family homes, and when we’re gonna sell those, but retain the land lease so interesting stuff you can do. So you know, I’m in this world and I know lots of people who are I just interviewed the founder of a very large apartment. Investment Company and they do some, they play in some other asset classes as well Self Storage, etc. And they do business in seven states. And, you know, we went into this in depth fuel here that episode, folks, if you’re looking for this big crash in the housing market, I don’t think you’re gonna find it. And if you do, if you do, it will be a result of much higher interest rates. And I want you to realize something, so you don’t miss the opportunity. Because many, many millions of people have missed great opportunities. Now most people aren’t missing the opportunity right now. And maybe it’s an anomaly. Maybe the skeptics and the doomsayers the people that have been calling the end of the world for the last 2030 years, you know, the bad news sells, right? Maybe they’ll say, well, Jason, it’s just an anomaly what’s going on right now? Yes, there’s a housing boom, yes, prices are rising, but it ain’t gonna last. Maybe there’ll be right, maybe, but will they be right based on the price of the property or the cost of ownership. And those two things are significantly different. Just want to remind you that people buy a property based on the payment based on the mortgage payment. Almost nobody buys it on the price of the property. And based on the mortgage payment, housing in the markets we like now this is not true of all markets, is actually cheaper today than it was in 2006. In terms of a monthly payment, the price is higher. Yes, that is true. And you see all these people that have a shallow understanding of the market. The talking heads on CNBC now, I don’t mean to pick on CNBC. They got some great coverage on a lot of things. But any news station, any major media outlet, where they’ve got to condense things into a small soundbite, or they don’t look at issues deeply, and they don’t have a deep understanding, they’ll say things like, well, if you’re looking at housing prices in 2006, at the prior peak, and you know, they differ on when the peak was fine and dandy, depending on what market you’re looking at what sub market, what price range, blah, blah, blah, you know, you can peel that onion a lot of ways, but they say, housing prices are higher now than they were then and look what happened then we had a big crash. Okay. What what’s the monthly cost of ownership? You never bothered to consider that, do you? Right. And that’s the true cost of housing. That’s the true price of housing is the monthly cost, not the overall cost. Also, they never bothered to look at the underwriting standards. On those loans, well, sometimes they do. I won’t say never figure of speech, you know, you got to use a finger. Yeah, to do some generalizations and some stereotyping to make things simple, you know, easy to understand, right? But they usually don’t consider the underwriting of the people holding those mortgages. And the underwriting standards today have been very conservative in most cases. You know, I know there are some low down loans, but even with the low downpayment loans, the underwriting standards have been tight. Okay, by enlarge tight, it’s not like it was last time. So if you’re looking for that, you know, 2008 crash, you’re probably going to miss the opportunity there. And by the way, that was my dog moving. Did you hear that? She moves like a cow. Yes, dog makes very funny sounds. And sadly, my dog is not feeling well. So please pray for her quick recovery. very worried about it, I could show you a chart, but I don’t have it handy of mortgage credit availability. And you will just see how hard it is to actually get a mortgage right now. And how hard it’s been over the last several years, showing that the banks are underwriting very carefully. So if you’re looking for all those defaults Not going to happen, except they’re going to happen here in the commercial real estate market. Now, not all classes have commercial. Here’s another faulty thing people do. They miss classify it and they call it commercial in quotes. Well, what does that mean? What type of commercial property? Where is it located? Is it office space? Is it retail properties? Is it industrial properties? Is it self storage? Is it gas stations, like you know, there’s a zillion different types of commercial property. And then there are many locations and price ranges and different types of asset classes. lots of ways to divide this up a lot of segments What needs to happen? But generally, the two hardest hit asset classes in the commercial real estate world, of course will be office space and retail properties, especially in trophy, tier one cities. New York, San Francisco, LA, and to an extent, Boston, Seattle, San Diego, you know, to a slightly lesser degree, Portland, etc, right? All of these places very hard hit civil unrest, no ability to socially distance concerns about contagion, etc. Right. Here’s the question people should be asking is they should stop worrying about the market itself and look at the knock on effect, because all of these commercial properties, they have mortgages, and those mortgages are tied to securities, various securities but especially bonds cmbs commercial mortgage backed securities And as these mortgages default, and the bankruptcies mount and they’re already mounting these companies filing for bankruptcy, and we’re gonna see a lot more of that it’s gonna get a lot worse before it gets better. But it’s just Joseph Schumpeter, my favorite economist, his concept of creative destruction. This was happening anyway. COVID 1984 simply accelerated that trend. So, as we see that there are going to be massive defaults on these commercial mortgage backed securities. And guess who owns those well, life insurance companies, pension funds, university endowments, and private investors like you potentially, you know, you might have those in directly, you might have direct ownership or they might be in some fund that you own and you don’t even know it. That’s going to hurt. That’s the thing people should be looking at. But when we look at retail sales overall, look at this chart if you’re watching by the way Through not I’ll explain it to you. It says us retail sales return to pre pandemic levels, monthly retail and food services sales in the United States, seasonally adjusted, which is the better way to do it. According to the US Census Bureau, that’s where this chart is from. The August figure figure represents an advance estimate based on subsample of Census Bureau’s full retail and food services sample. And it basically shows a slight upward trend where you’ve got $537.52 billion in sales in August. And yes, you know, you go back a few years and even if you go back two years, it was as high it did take a dip during the lockdown phase. And we you know, we still have lock downs in many areas, but overall, it’s up. Now, it’s not up in physical stores. It’s up online. Of course, you already know that and we’ve talked It ad nauseum on prior episodes. So let’s go to our guests. But I do want to remind you that we have our version 2.0 of our asset protection and estate planning webinar. And that’s available to you at Jason hartman.com. Slash protect Jason hartman.com slash protect a more advanced webinar that you guys asked for. So we aim to please and we provided it our lawyer, went back to the drawing board, redid his presentation and made a more advanced version based on a lot of the questions you asked for those of you hundreds and hundreds of you that attended the prior webinar. So Jason hartman.com, slash protect, like protect your assets, and Jason hartman.com slash protect for that. And without further ado, let’s go to our guest and let’s talk about his real estate investing case study. As he started with us somewhere around 10 years ago, I think and also So, this trademark trolling, well, you decide it’s trademark trolling. I think it is by Apple, one of my am one of the companies I really admire. In fact, I’m using their products right now and spend an awful lot of money with that company. All right, here we go.
Jason Hartman 14:19
It’s my pleasure to welcome one of our clients back to the show, and that is Russell Brunson, or Russell Johnson. And he was on the show before talking about his client case study as a real estate investor. But today, we’ll touch on that. But today we’re going to talk about something else. And that is an aspect of the tech tyranny that I keep talking about. As you know, I am a consumer advocate, and I have a very big distaste for bullies. When I hear stories, like you’re about to hear, I really get upset about them. You’re going to hear about a tech giant, the largest company in the world and that is Apple. Computer a company that I, I use their products. Most of us do have long thought of myself as a fan of Apple, but I’m definitely becoming less of a fan. And this story is one more step in that direction moving the needle away from my interest in Apple. You know, I used to really like Tim Cook and thought he was doing a great job. But some things I’ve really called that into question lately, and this is yet another part of that story. Russ is a CPA. He also has a company that he started, that is now being bullied by Apple. So you’re gonna hear that story and hear a little bit about his real estate investments and how we got to this place. Russ, welcome. How are you doing?
Russ Munson 15:41
I’m doing well. Thanks, Jason, for having me on. I’ve been listening to your podcast for years. And so it’s fun to be on again. Yeah, it’s great to have you.
Jason Hartman 15:48
It’s great to have you. When did you first start listening to my podcast, just out of curiosity,
Russ Munson 15:52
I started right in the middle of the Great Recession. So when the housing collapse was happening before I was just searching on fire Test players for best real estate podcasts landed on yours. And it kind of guided my investment philosophy and a lot of the decisions that I made in terms of my own investing, and been a big fan of, of yours ever since.
Jason Hartman 16:14
Good stuff. Well, thank you. And thank you for all your business and your referrals. We really appreciate that, obviously, tell us how your investing involves a little bit and how it funded the business you have now.
Russ Munson 16:25
So I started, I started picking up just a couple of houses locally, I live in Utah during the Great Recession when everything was basically free. And I just saw I was in the mortgage business at the time. And it was obvious to me that when the cost of buying a house was less than the cost of building a house, unless you had a massive population decline, like something good was going to happen to the prices of those when I was mostly investing at the time with the properties I was purchasing just for appreciation. And then I started listening to your podcasts and started learning about really the value of some of these other markets other than my home state and Utah. And I just didn’t really have the resources to branch out of Utah. I just released I didn’t think I did. And so I connected up with an investment counselor at your company and started acquiring properties outside of Utah. I started in St. Louis, a couple of duplexes and for plexes there, and then I bought several properties in Memphis and several family members properties in other markets and started the cash flow machine, I guess.
Jason Hartman 17:26
Excellent. Excellent. Well, good for you. So you started investing with us when around 2008 or nine or so back?
Russ Munson 17:33
I think my first property probably would have been 2000. It might have been 2009.
Jason Hartman 17:39
Yeah. So 11 years ago, then it’s 2020. Now, so just in case you’re listening to this five years from now, so you never know.
Russ Munson 17:49
a time or two?
Jason Hartman 17:49
Yeah, yeah, you definitely have. Well, you started in the Great Recession, which was a good time to start times of economic uncertainty or times that create a lot of opportunities. And I think now we might be seeing that again. So without going down that rabbit hole, which would take a long time to discuss, I want to just get to the story a little bit. So you began investing with us that enabled you to fund a business. Yeah, that’s right. Okay. Tell us about.
Russ Munson 18:18
Yeah. So I was investing in real estate on the side of my main job, I was a CPA work for a large bank. And at the same time, my wife was actually building a food blog. And I was kind of helping figure out how to make money from the food blogging business. And we got to a point where we were able to make that business very successful. And I was able to quit my full time job from the combined income of the food blog and the real estate business. And when we got into that, like our food blog really took off since to the rise of Facebook, back when Facebook was first starting to go big. And we got millions and millions of followers on Facebook and had a ton of traffic In order to build a business there, and then shortly after we built that business, the Facebook algorithm turned against us. And it started to erode our traffic and try to keep users on Facebook instead of on the content provider site. And so we had kind of a really rough experience there figuring out how to monetize the content based business when in control, so,
Jason Hartman 19:23
Yeah. I know that’s the problem with today’s world. I tell you, these big tech companies are just bullies and we’re obviously going to get into that today. They can just ruin people’s lives and you just have no recourse at all. It’s so unfair. That’s why we need we need these companies to be split up. We need a broader marketplace. So there are choices. So there’s more variety. It’s indeed this would have never been allowed post Industrial Revolution, you know, post robber barons, Carnegie’s Melanie’s, Rockefellers, etc. And now we have that again, because there’s so much better at lobbying and Basically faking that they’re in other businesses that they’re really not in. Because right who Google Google does this extremely well, by the way, you know, folks, have you ever wondered why Google is in so many businesses that make like no money that are complete failures? It’s not, they’d like to say, well, they’re experimenting, they’re trying to get into this market, they’re trying to compete. The real reason is, so they can dodge the antitrust bullet. That’s why they do this. They have no interest really, in a lot of these businesses. I don’t think I mean, look at this, my view as an outsider, obviously. So, you know, maybe they think differently, but I don’t believe them. So they say, Well, you know, we’re in the self driving car business, we’re in the search business, we’re in the, you know, this business for that business. And, and we don’t dominate any of these things. You know, we’re in all these businesses, right? And so, so they’re able to dodge that bullet plus the fact that they spend a zillion dollars on lobbyists, and they get all the laws written in their favor. It’s just a complete scam. So hopefully, this is going to change But if you want to share your screen and show us your business, so we can get the background and then let’s see what’s happening. We’re gonna look at Legal Notices, and really kind of dive into this. I think it’ll be fascinating to you.
Russ Munson 21:13
Yeah, it’s really interesting, the arguments, they’re not monopolies. I mean, it’s hard to imagine there have never been bigger companies with more market power in the history of the world. And if they’re not monopolies, I don’t know how we define it. It’s an interesting, interesting situation.
Jason Hartman 21:29
When when these companies have gdps, larger than many countries, I think you can call them monopolies by them. Right. And the fact that they all work together, and they curry favor with the government by becoming proxies for the government. Think also about this listeners and viewers. The government is not allowed to impede your right to free speech under the Constitution. Of course, we know that is the first amendment, but a private company can censor your speech. And it’s a private company becomes a proxy for the government. And that’s how they curry favor with the government to get laws written in their favor and allow them to pay little to no taxes because they have all these offshore companies. It’s a complete scam. I mean, this is just a complete scam. Hopefully this will move the needle and they won’t take the show off the air because they definitely censor this kind of stuff. What kind of food blog was your wife doing?
Russ Munson 22:33
Yeah, so our food blog that we built was called super healthy kids. So it’s a blog dedicated to helping parents have the resources they need to feed their kids healthy food instead of junk food to kind of battle their kids desire for chicken nuggets and mac and cheese all the time. And get them eating and developing healthy habits.
Jason Hartman 22:52
Right so so there you’re gonna you’re gonna piss off a lot of big powers. McDonald’s isn’t gonna like you very much, right?
Russ Munson 22:59
So Our Facebook pages tend to be full of controversy about people sued religions. So right, it’s very interesting to put a good way to put it. Yeah, but what we kind of did was super healthy kids, I mentioned that we have seen kind of how those big companies, big tech companies, algorithms could make it so that you aren’t really in control of your business. So we decided at that time to start building some sort of content delivery system that wasn’t in control of big tech companies that we could extend to other food bloggers to build their businesses on. And so that’s how this business that we are running into problems with apples was formed in that company’s called prepare, as you can imagine, in our view on thing that’s interesting to think about here, as we kind of walk through what we do with prepare is how dissimilar the services the nature of the operations of what we’re doing are from a computer technology business. there’s virtually no way that these two Businesses can be confused or be considered competitors. So it’s kind of an interesting background for this, what we do with prepare is we create a connected cooking experience, so that you can store all of your favorite recipes in one place. And you can use basically all of the content that you like to consume on the internet without the advertising infrastructure that bothers you will use the content, and that your use of that content will benefit the content creator directly. So we have a paid version of prepare called prepare gold, where subscribers can pay $59 a year to be a member. And we then share that revenue directly with the content creators. And that’s kind of exactly our view of how some of these tech companies should work. They don’t share their revenue.
Jason Hartman 24:48
What is the content creator someone with a recipe?
Russ Munson 24:51
Yeah, so in the example you can see here, this recipe from super healthy kids if I were following super healthy kids on prepare, I would have access to their content. in a format that doesn’t include display advertising from that food blogger, that’s really kind of a cumbersome thing to cook from a phone when the ads are jumping all over the page, right? We’ve solved all of those content problems. And then as a user, you can see if you’re, if you’re not a paying user, which how I’m logged in. Now, it’s not a paying user, you can view that content on the blogger site. If you with those advertisements. If you decide to pay, then you can view any of their content with no advertisements and we then send that money back on to food blogger. So
Jason Hartman 25:33
So first off, I want to be a content provider because you as you may have heard on the podcast, I’m a little bit into cooking now. It used to be that the best thing I made for dinner was reservations. But I’ve gotten better especially with these lockdowns and so forth. And I tell you, I make the world’s best salad ever really. like nobody makes a salad better than I do. Okay, so I gotta give them recipes on your site go
Russ Munson 26:02
Awesome. Well, we’d love to have you as a content creator. And that would kind of highlight that we could, we could have an eat like Jason meal plan that people can subscribe to and be fit like you. So and that’s really kind of the idea behind prepare. It’s it allows you to create cookbooks, to store even your own family recipes. So you can, for example, create your own cookbooks with all of your family recipes, I share my family recipes, you can do your meal planning. And you can even send your grocery list directly to Walmart to do your shopping so you don’t have to go to the store anymore.
Jason Hartman 26:37
Russ Munson 26:37
we basically just hide all the things that you need to put from home successfully into one solution. And that’s really what prepare was about that having it not be a tech company that isn’t caring for everyone who’s involved in that transaction. The content creators involved in the transaction prepares involved in the transaction, and the consumer is involved in the transaction and we’re really trying to do right by everyone.
Jason Hartman 27:00
So so your investment counselor posted something in our private group about how this was happening to you this this burgeoning legal battle with Apple. Then a couple of days later, I actually saw it in the mainstream media. I saw a story about you. And I thought, this is our client. Now what are you going through what what is apple? What is their problem with your company?
Russ Munson 27:25
When we started prepare, we filed for a trademark for this pair icon. It’s a it’s an icon that clearly represents a pair. It’s usually used in the color green, it looks nothing like an apple whatsoever, used to represent a meal planning and cooking business. And the fact that it looks nothing like an apple is why this has gotten so much media attention. So when we filed for our trademark, unbelievably this will tell you how the legal process in the United States works in January of 2017. We went through the whole process with the trademark approval board and We finally got our trademark approved in fall of last year, where the trademark agency of US government said look, there’s no conflicts here. We’re going to release this trademark.
Jason Hartman 28:08
And so that’s the USPTO. The Patent and Trademark Office.
Russ Munson 28:12
Jason Hartman 28:13
Yep. I have many trademarks. I know them well. Okay.
Russ Munson 28:15
Yes. So they gave us the all clear and published our trademark for other companies in the world to look at and see if they had a problem with it. And on the last day of the window to oppose our trademark, Apple didn’t file to oppose our trademark they failed to extend the date that they could oppose our trademark and then repeatedly filed to extend that date as far as they possibly to make this as difficult as possible for us to bear the burden of and keep us in limbo as long as possible. In practice they do with all of the trademark opposition’s they do.
Jason Hartman 28:47
Yeah, apples to apples in a big fight with fortnight. I don’t know much about that story. I haven’t been following it, but they’re in a big fight with him too. So the article that I saw in the mainstream media was basically It said something to the effect of Apple to start up, change your logo or else that was, I believe, right? So they’re telling you that their logo is an apple with a bite out of it. Your logo is a pear with no bite out of it looks nothing like their apple. But I guess Apple is claiming the rights to all fruit. Yes, or the rights to vegetables too. If If I opened a company called broccoli or you know potato would they be suing me I mean,
Russ Munson 29:35
I wouldn’t put it past them but it’s very clear that they what they described in their legal action, and I’ll show you what their actual legal action says it says consumers encountering applicant that’s us Mark are likely to associate the mark with Apple. Applicants Mark consists of a minimalistic fruit design with a right angled leaf, which readily calls to mind Apple’s famous Apple logo and creativity. Looking for a commercial impression? And then they show a side by side that clearly shows no similarities between these two logos other than what they described. They’re both fruit and they both have leaves.
Jason Hartman 30:11
Now No, no wait. Now when you file for a trademark, there are I think 40 classes under which you can classify your trademark. And some of the classes you can tell the government designed over us because they’re kind of odd. Like what I want to trademark My name is trademarked for example, right? Jason Hartman is a trademark, okay? I can trademark it under like one class or multiple classes. And the classes are a little bit funky. You know, they don’t make sense to at least the layperson, but you’re not a computer company, right. You don’t want to make cell phones, iPhones, smartphones, or computers or hardware. You’re selling recipes.
Russ Munson 30:53
There’s no competition whatsoever. And in our class description, we’re in the same class in terms of creating software. But if that is what makes us competitors, and everyone creates software, I’m sure you create. There’s no company that doesn’t create software anymore. But our class description describes it as software for meal planning, and recipe management. And Apple, interestingly, isn’t even. They’re not even contending that they’re in a competing business with us. In terms of the class, they are saying that, because they have the Apple Watch and the Apple Health app, that somehow they may eventually end up in the recipes business. And so they don’t want consumers to be confused between those two.
Jason Hartman 31:36
Okay, now, do you have an app in their app store?
Russ Munson 31:39
We do? Yes. Okay. Have an app in Apple’s App Store and in the Google Play Store,
Jason Hartman 31:43
and what was the app? What is the app called?
Russ Munson 31:47
The apps called prepare? So that’s the name of our company.
Jason Hartman 31:51
They approved your app.
Yeah, there’s no problem. We follow all of the App Store guidelines completely.
Jason Hartman 31:57
How long ago did they approve your app?
Russ Munson 31:58
We’ve been in the app store since September of 2017, for years,
Jason Hartman 32:04
okay, so for three years and how long ago did you first file for the trademark
in January of 2017?
Jason Hartman 32:12
Okay, so they approved your app, and they saw the design. The logo is on the app, I’m sure, right.
Russ Munson 32:17
Yeah, yeah, logo is the main app icon.
Jason Hartman 32:20
Do they threatened to kick you out of the app store? Also?
Russ Munson 32:23
No, they haven’t made any threats about the App Store. They are just saying that our logos are confusing and that we need to change ours. They’re demanding that we change our logo and abandon basically the brand that we’ve spent the last three years building and that they have a right they believe they have a right to control our intellectual property that we own and have developed.
Jason Hartman 32:47
Now, did you file under multiple classes for the trademark?
Russ Munson 32:51
We did? Yeah. We thought file under kind of a social media type class that is basically electronic communication class and under a software development class for meal planning software.
Jason Hartman 33:02
Okay. And they agree that you could if you abandon the software class, well, I don’t know if you’ve had this negotiation with them or if you’d be willing to do it. But did they agree to stop harassing you if you would abandon the software class and maybe keep the others are.
Russ Munson 33:21
So Apple has made no requests of us regarding the abandonment of our class, they have focused entirely on this concept of that consumers are going to be confused between our logos so they’ve made no contention regarding us, changing the class and things being better. They have solely repeated to us and reiterated to us that our minimalistic fruit design with a leaf is confusingly similar to their apple. And when we when we got that information, I mean just honestly reads kind of like an onion article. We have a just belief that media is the site with these phony stories.
Jason Hartman 33:59
With the phone.
Russ Munson 34:02
There’s no way that any rational consumer could think this. So we thought, well, when we go talk to Apple, then we’ll obviously be able to straighten this out because there’s more of a story here, then we’re reading in this filing of their son. The answer’s no, there’s not. They’re really contending that pears and apples can’t coexist without consuming, confusing consumers.
Jason Hartman 34:22
Do you know if there are any other examples of other fruit logos that Apple has had problems with?
Russ Munson 34:31
There are. So they have this is not we’re not like a random target here. They have come after. In our research, we found more than 40 other unrelated fruit icons and logos that Apple has opposed the vast majority of which just don’t respond to Apple’s opposition and lose their trademarks. And very, very rarely does somebody decide to fight apple. That’s actually what spurred us on to want to fight apple in this case. It’s so this such a ridiculous claim. And it’s being done over and over and over again, regardless of the fruit, their claims against oranges, bananas, apples, limitless numbers of them, it’s hard to even imagine if Apple were to want us to change our logo, how we can change it in a way that it wouldn’t be violating their, their brand from their perspective.
Jason Hartman 35:21
So I have litigated cases where the other party is just either a crook or a bully. And, you know, I know that if I look at I have resources, I can afford to stand up to them, but other people can’t. And I look at like their litigation history, and I’ve heard the other complaints from other consumers that just never bothered to take them to court. I feel that it’s my duty to do something. Because if you don’t stick up to them, who’s gonna do it? They’re just gonna keep rolling over everybody. So I really applaud you for doing that. Of course, I’m not a legal expert. Neither are you. But this just Seems on its face like to a common sense layperson, that this is an act of just bullying you know, they they’re a trillion dollar plus company. I mean, they know they can just throw their weight around and, and just roll over and destroy companies like crazy. It’s ridiculous. Here’s what this article says, By the way, and I saw this on Newser. Mainstream Media by then. Apple two small startup calling, ditch that logo or else the tech giant Sue’s prepare over its logo. Have you guessed it, a pair? No to small startups. Try not using a fruit logo, Apple might get mad. The tech behemoth has again filed suit over a fruity logo. This time against a five employees startup called prepare that advertises itself with the image of a green pear entrepreneur reports which by the way, entrepreneurs was in a big lawsuit with a friend of mine years ago. And one they bullied him into submission because he was using the word entrepreneur, which incredible wasn’t like it was an entrepreneur. I mean, this is unbelievable sometimes. Okay, and it says now Russell Munson, the recipe apps founder has posted an online petition. You can see the prepare logo here and there’s a link to it and seeking people support, quote, it’s it’s a very terrifying experience to be legally attacked by one of the largest companies in the world, even when they have clearly done nothing wrong on quote. He writes, we feel a moral obligation to take a stand against Apple’s aggressive legal action on quote, his petition has more than 63,000 signatures so far.
Russ Munson 37:48
Wow. It was a few days ago. We’re up to 175,000 now.
Jason Hartman 37:53
Oh, so you’re showing the petition on change.org?
Russ Munson 37:57
Yeah, this is a petition that we’ve we’ve seen Apple actually in received no response to this. In fact, we sent this petition. And we honestly assumed that when they saw the public outcry about this, because millions of people have seen our logo side by side, and nobody is confused, we thought, you know, maybe they’re making this legal argument, really, I think people will be confused. So let’s use our millions of social media followers with our food blog, to run that experiment in the real world. And no one is confused. There’s nobody has gone into an apple store and asked them if they can help them make dinner. It hasn’t happened. So we, we and by the same token, nobody has tried to buy a computer from us since this whole thing came to light and became public.
Jason Hartman 38:45
So you’re not selling many computers with pears on them? Hmm.
Russ Munson 38:48
No, believe it or not. We haven’t stepped into their business at all. Yeah. And we thought that they would respond to this petition saying oh, well, they’re a rational actor in a way and would look at this and say, okay, there’s There’s no confusion. Let’s drop this, it’s not worth the PR nightmare that this is. And we have learned from our attorney speaking with their attorneys that not only are they not dropping it, they’re doubling down, they’ve now filed an opposition against our trademark in Canada as well. And they’re doing their best to make this as expensive and painful as possible for us to keep our logo.
Jason Hartman 39:19
You know, I’m not familiar with the world of the big corporate world, I’ve never worked in a big corporation, I don’t really understand how they operate. You know, you just kind of wonder if this kind of stuff makes it to the desk of like a human who’s actually thinking versus lawyers who are just incentivized to, you know, do their job, right. extract value from people. You know, that’s what that’s what some of you do, like, just Tim Cook, for example, as a human being know about this. And if this makes it to his desk, or a meeting with him, would he just be like, like a rational person and say, you know, this kind of ridiculous I think we should just let this go.
Russ Munson 40:01
I hope that would be the case that if you could get through to other other people inside of Apple, I think they’ve intentionally designed the system so that you can get through. So they have not responded to the comment requests of dozens of reporters who have reached out to them not a single comment requests has been responding to their stances to just ignore this and and left legal pathway with us.
Jason Hartman 40:27
So they have they actually served you with a lawsuit. I mean, the article says they sued you, but I it doesn’t sound like they have Yeah,
Russ Munson 40:33
yeah. So in the trademark proceedings, what they’ve done is filed a notice of opposition, which is a document they filed with the USPTO that we then have to respond to if we don’t mount an aggressive defense of their opposition, we automatically lose the right to use our logo.
Jason Hartman 40:50
And so I had that happen once in one of my trademarks. You know, I have many businesses and my main thing is the real estate business but you know, I’ve other businesses too, and I felt a clothing trademark years ago. In a clothing company that was like 100 year old clothing company, opposed my mark. And, you know, we went back and forth. I spent some money and they finally relented and let us have our mark, because we weren’t competing with them. But that at least was clothing to clothing prices so different, that it just seems like a stretch. Again, I am not a legal expert folks, so I can render a legal opinion. And you know, the law is complicated. Of course, it’s super complicated, but
Russ Munson 41:31
yes, certainly is. And I think there are some structural problems in the law that facilitate this sort of behavior where it puts large companies at an advantage over small companies, probably because that incentivize additional legal fees to be set. You know, Apple can have their attorneys file, dozens and dozens of these opposition’s every year, knowing that maybe 10 5% of the people on the other side are going to Spend the minimum $50,000 that it’s going to require to fight them all the way to the end. Yeah. And it doesn’t matter to them. It doesn’t matter at all. But it matters to those dozens and dozens of businesses for whom $50,000 to defend it is an extraordinary amount of money.
Jason Hartman 42:17
And believe me, it could cost way more than $50,000.
Russ Munson 42:22
That’s the minimum to get something like this, right?
Jason Hartman 42:24
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, apple, I’m sure has the best lawyers on planet Earth. And they pay them a fortune. They have giant law firms with tons of resources, research resources, research capabilities, just, it’s just insane. I mean, the, the, the level at which they can fight it’s like, you know, it’s like the US going to war with some dumb little country that has no military. Right. You know, it’s just, it’s not a fair fight. And that’s that’s the problem with the legal system that says,
Russ Munson 42:55
Yeah. Yeah, that’s a fight that by default, we lose. So there’s no, there’s no option to not defend, you either quit or defend. And there’s no second Review Board. There’s no common sense person that looks at this to see, oh, if you don’t have a case, then you’ll have to pay the legal fees. If you want to take this frivolous lawsuit through, there’s no, there’s nothing there. It’s just just your attorneys lawyer up,
Jason Hartman 43:17
see what you know, you know, Prager, you, or Prager University, sued YouTube slash Google slash alphabet, whatever you want to call them. And I don’t know the status of that case. But they claimed that Google or YouTube was, you know, down ranking their videos in the app store because their videos are conservative and Google, Google is liberal. Okay, as most tech companies are, and you know, I don’t know where they got with that. I assume they probably didn’t get anywhere with it because of the way the system works. And this, they just have everything in their favor with their lobbyists there. They can write law, they don’t have to fight the law. They write the law, okay. When they have lobbyists, an army of lobbyists. Have you and the reason I’m Saying that is because I’m wondering, do you have any inkling or any suspicion that because of this problem, that Apple is down ranking your app in their app store, they control the audience that sees your app? Because they control the App Store.
Russ Munson 44:19
Jason Hartman 44:20
it at least they don’t control the internet. Okay, at least not yet. And so they can’t control who sees your website, necessarily. But they certainly can control who sees your app. And they can in
Russ Munson 44:33
inside of the App Store, we truly have no evidence that they have done anything within the app ecosystem to punish are out in connection with this. In fact, the the message getting out there like the support of hundreds of thousands of people has been extraordinary. We’ve had so many people downloading the app and using it having a good experience that there’s at least we’ve we’ve turned lemons into lemonade hear if I can still say that and just use a friend. I should probably be extra cautious. Yeah, we’ve been able to turn lemons into lemonade here. And I don’t have any suspicions that the other side of Apple, the technology side of Apple is, is somehow punishing us.
Russ Munson 45:18
Which is good. Hopefully they’re not. So that’s, that’s good. I’m gonna download your app right now. So anything else you want to tell us questions I didn’t ask you. You know, just let us know. And by the way, I want to invite any representative from Apple that wants to come on the show and tell their side of the story. Okay. You know, we’re open. I have people that disagree with me constantly on the show, you know that Russ, because you’ve been listening for a while. I have people that I wouldn’t even come close to agreeing with on my show. You know, we’re always happy to hear the other side of the story. You know, anybody from Apple? certainly welcome to come on and tell their side of the story. So go ahead and anything I didn’t ask you.
Russ Munson 45:54
And the only thing I would say in closing is I hope that the fact that there’s somebody standing up to Apple inspires other people to do so, you know, one of our missions, that super healthy kids is to raise healthy kids. And that includes them having healthy social and emotional habits. And one of the main things that’s part of that is developing the character to be able to stand up to bullies stand up to injustice and do the right thing. Even when it makes you uncool or unpopular, it’s going to be incredibly expensive. It’s just important that our world is filled with people who will stand up to bullies to gamble, who are willing to take advantage of other people. And I hope this inspires some people to do the same.
Jason Hartman 46:35
I hope so too. And you know what, the way I look at it in business, is I look at some of these things that I have to do is just inefficient things that really don’t always make sense economically. Sometimes they do. But I look at them as if nothing else. It’s like charity work. Okay, you know, I donate money to charity. And sometimes you have an additional expense. That’s Like for the greater good of the industry, the community, the human race, whatever, right? And, and so I totally understand what you’re saying there. Thanks for sharing your story with us. And I wish you the best. Thanks for sharing your investing story with us. You were on the podcast one other time before talking about real estate investing and how that’s helped you. So, you know, but this is more about the pair, the apple Who would have thought, it’s not David and Goliath, it’s the apple in the pair.
Russ Munson 47:31
So believeable was a pleasure to be on. I really appreciated all of your advice over the years, and there’s a lot of wisdom in your podcast and it’s been a real benefit to us and helped us create a financial position where we can build a business and do the things that we’re doing. So good stuff.
Jason Hartman 47:47
Yeah, yeah, it’s my pleasure. And I hope that this show does not get censored in some way. What you you have to fear with the powers that be you know, there’s the the power of the world to show elections and just everything to, you know, start or end wars is in the hands of a few giant tech companies. It’s It’s unbelievable the power they have. So, you know, let’s let’s hope they they follow Google’s old saying that Google has certainly not followed. That is don’t be evil, you know, right. All right. Well,
Jason Hartman 48:20
good luck, Russ. Thanks for sharing the story. And by the way, give out your website. Is it prepared calm?
Russ Munson 48:26
Yeah, free care.com p p, e AR like the fruit, calm and stuff.
Jason Hartman 48:30
Alright. Thanks again.
Russ Munson 48:32
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