FRUIT THEMED TOYMAKER Apple has lost its appeal against a United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruling denying it a trademark on on the word 'multi-touch'.
Apple attempted to trademark 'multi-touch', describing it as: "A new technology called multi-touch, which responds to multiple inputs by multiple fingers - even multiple users - at the same time." However the USPTO decided that Apple's case for trademarking 'multi-touch' did not have merit, denying the firm's application.
Apple appealed that decision with the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, which reached the same conclusion. Effectively the board said that Apple's declaration of 'multi-touch' did not meet the standard of "acquired distinctiveness" in order to issue a trademark.
It seems that Apple's crack legal team, the same one that is trying to do a number on Samsung, perhaps filed the wrong evidence, deciding to concentrate on the Iphone rather than 'multi-touch'.
The USPTO wrote: "Applicant's evidence for the most part consists of Internet and Nexis articles, as well as applicant's webpages, describing the Iphone product. This evidence establishes that the Iphone is a very successful product that has generated much interest among potential purchasers. However, as the examining attorney correctly pointed out, the applied-for mark is not Iphone, it is multi-touch. Thus, applicant's evidence pertaining to the success, sales volumes and, to a limited extent, advertising expenditures of the Iphone, is not helpful in establishing that the purchasing public associates the term multi-touch with applicant."
Apple used a number of web articles to make its case, and it did make a case, just the wrong case. The board seemingly was convinced that the Iphone is a popular device, something that could have been proven without hiring $300 per hour lawyers.
The USPTO ruling means that other device manufacturers can use the term 'multi-touch' to describe multi-finger input in marketing materials without having to pay royalties to Apple. Perhaps even more importantly, the ruling shows that the USPTO doesn't always rubber-stamp vague ideas or general terms. µ
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