March 31, 2013
Apple's trademark woes have just been exacerbated by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office's refusal to grant Apple the exclusive rights to the "iPad mini" name. As pointed out by Patently Apple, the USPTO's notice concerning the issue was sent to Apple last January but wasn't made public until a couple of days ago. The notice is embedded below for your perusal. In essence, the "iPad mini" trademark application, which Apple filed shortly after it launched the device in question last November, is in danger of being declined on two grounds. One, USPTO's examining attorney contends that the "iPad mini" name is "merely descriptive." Apparently, the term "mini" in "iPad mini" just describes the small size of the device. That's as opposed to differentiating the device from its full-size counterpart, which is, of course, known simply as "iPad." And two, USPTO maintains that the webpage specimen submitted by Apple to demonstrate the use of the applied-for trademark is not valid. But as noted by Patently Apple, "Apple commonly provides USPTO with their appropriate product website pages as a specimen. It's never been refused until now." Apple can still appeal for the ultimate approval of its application. But given the above-mentioned "odd" reasons from the USPTO, Apple may have to come up with compelling counterarguments. As mentioned, this is just the latest addition to Apple's trademark woes. Sure, Apple did reach a $60 million settlement with Proview in July last year to resolve their dispute over the iPad trademark in China. But the iDevice maker still has to sort out its iPhone trademark issues in Brazil and Mexico.