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Apple's Dumbest Idea. Ever.

Manhattan boasts dozens of iconic edifices. The Empire State Building. The Chrysler Building. St. Patrick's Cathedral. The New York Stock Exchange. And, yeah, even Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) clear-cube store on 5th Avenue and 59th Street, next to Central Park and, appropriately, a stone's throw from toy paradise FAO Schwartz.

Apple, you'd think, loves the Big Apple. But not right now. Not according to a lawsuit filed last week in which the Mac's daddy is challenging the legality of the "GreeNYC" logo -- a green apple formed from what looks like a figure eight.

For its part, the iEmpire says the logo will cause "consumer confusion resulting in damage and injury" to Apple. The worry, apparently, is that consumers would fail to distinguish the shiny Mac apple from the GreeNYC apple. That untold thousands would wander onto city buses featuring the GreeNYC logo, dazed and disappointed as they're kept from a new Mac or iPhone.

The horror!

But, of course, GreeNYC is anything but digital. It is, instead, a citywide program to encourage consumers to reduce their carbon footprint. The logo in question, intended to communicate the "greening" of the Big Apple, is the vehicle by which the program gets noticed.

Or, if The New York Times is to be believed, ignored. Quoting from a Friday story on the legal tussle: "To be honest, it seems unlikely the GreeNYC campaign and its apple had drawn much public attention until it became the subject of a legal dispute with a multinational Fortune 500 company."

Yeah, but don't you love the delicious irony? Apple Records, the company formed by the Beatles to market their music, filed suit against the iEmpire in September 2003 because the Apple logo had become intertwined with iTunes. Not until February of last year would a settlement be reached.

Brands do matter. Ask Nike (NYSE: NKE  ) . Or Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) . Or Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) . Or Disney.  Every one of them, like the Mac maker, was a top global brand in 2007, according to the annual Interbrand survey.

Looking silly is no way to enhance your ranking, Apple.

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