by Joe White
May 10, 2013
Apple successfully defended itself in court yesterday, May 9, 2013, against a New York-based sci-fi/fantasy publisher, who claimed that the company's use of the "iBooks" name compromised its own similar "ibooks" label. While the publisher, Black Tower Press, originally filed the lawsuit back in 2011, the case only recently reached a New York court, and was promptly thrown out by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote. Black Tower Press originally obtained the "ibooks" mark in 2006, after purchasing assets from another company. Problematically, however, the publisher did not secure a trademark for the "ibooks" name. Apple, on the other hand, did. As GigaOm notes, the Cupertino, Calif. company obtained a license to use "iBook" in order "to describe a line of colorful computers" in 1999, and in 2010, Apple purchased the trademark entirely. Judge Cote, in her ruling against Black Tower Press, also noted that the term "ibook" is relatively synonymous with "e-book," and refers most generally to a digital book purchased online. In addition, Cote added that Black Tower Press' "ibooks" and Apple's "iBooks," given their separate contexts, would most likely not be confused by consumers:
They [Black Tower Press] have offered no evidence that consumers who use Apple’s iBooks software to download ebooks have come to believe that Apple has also entered the publishing business and is the publisher of all of the downloaded books, despite the fact that each book bears the imprint of its actual publisher.If you're interested, a 71-page ruling detailing Judge Cote's decision is available to read online. Of course, this isn't the first time Apple has faced trademark lawsuits concerning product names. In fact, almost all of Apple's major products - including the iPhone, iPad, and iCloud - have been the subject of a trademark lawsuit at one point or another. Regardless, the good news for Apple (and its customer base) is that the iBooks name is still in the game. For further industry news, see: Amazon Could Launch Two Kindle Phones Plus A New Streaming Music Device, YouTube To Begin Offering Premium Channels, and Apple's 'iRadio' Service Could Be Delayed As Music Labels Have Doubts About Latest Offer.