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Apple Loses the iPad Mini Trademark

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the so-sorry dept.

The Courts 144

An anonymous reader writes in with bad news for Apple. "It would appear that Apple has lost an attempt to trademark the 'iPad Mini.' This time it's not nefarious foreigners subverting the just order of things simply by trademarking something several years before Apple did. No, that was what happened in Brazil with the IFone. Nor is it people nefariously selling the rights to everywhere but China but Apple's lawyers didn’t notice, as happened with iPad in China. No, this time it's the U.S. Patents and Trademarks Office saying that Apple simply cannot have a trademark on 'iPad Mini.' For the simple reason that the law doesn't allow them to trademark something which is just a description of the product."

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So? (5, Insightful)

kiriath (2670145) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325655)

Who cares? Why post this, further, why post it with such dramatic leading text?

Nobody gives a rats ass that Apple can't get a trademark on something they technically already have a trademark on.

Re:So? (-1, Offtopic)

webgovernor (1852402) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325943)

^ Mod up please!

Re:So? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326197)

^ Mod up please!

Mod down please. I'm sick of these pointless "me too" posts.
Posting AC because I've got good karma.

Re:So? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326367)

Mod down please. I am sick of people sick of me too posts.
AC for the win.

Re:So? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326389)

I want to complain but not affect some meaningless integer values assigned to me in a database somewhere!

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326025)

Simple: Apple +ve or -ve news is click bait where the haters and zealots come out in force to tell the world how pathetic their lives are.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326113)

Oh no, it's much worse than that! They "lost" thetrademark!

How ever one loses something that they never had in the first place is beyond me, but Apple accompished it.

See what I did there? It was an accomplishment by Apple! Viva la fruits!

Re:So? (1)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326285)

How ever one loses something that they never had in the first place is beyond me, but Apple accompished it.

This is all handled by **AA math, where 1 download=1 lost sale.

That doesn't make it any less BS, but it's a well established technique in PR....

Re:So? (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326439)

This is all handled by **AA math, where 1 download=1 lost sale.

... that would have netted them $150,000.00.

Re:So? (1)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326219)

The whole day, and right now, this story is in the top 10 most read articles on BBC News [bbc.co.uk]
So clearly, someone does give a rat's ass.

Re:So? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326349)

Apple is a bunch of litigious fuckheads, so we care because we like seeing them have legal failures.

Re:So? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326507)

Nobody gives a rats ass that Apple can't get a trademark on something they technically already have a trademark on.

"Technically"?

Summary quality (5, Insightful)

aBaldrich (1692238) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325665)

It's ok to comment the news in the summary, but this has gone too far. "Apple is bad, you must hate Apple." Come on.

Re:Summary quality (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326029)

Apple makes non-free software.
Making non-free software is unethical.

Re:Summary quality (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326499)

Apple makes non-free software.
Making non-free software is unethical.

So does Google. Which 100% free software company do you choose to do business with?

Ironic captcha: "ideology"

Meaningless (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325713)

Protection of the "iPad" will have to do.

It's obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325717)

Apple has a trademark on Ipad. They are saying you can't trademark Ipad mini, because mini says you have a smaller Ipad. Just like you can't trademark Large or Extra Large.

Re:It's obvious (0)

Jiro (131519) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325853)

Technically, it says that they can't trademark iPad right now either, because "I" means internet and "pad" is a generic term for a tablet. However, they also say that Apple can file an amended application claiming "acquired distinctiveness". Apple will have no trouble doing that, so basically, they can trademark it if they try again.

If they do that, they have to disclaim "mini" as being descriptive.

Re:It's obvious (2)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325941)

Technically, it says that they can't trademark iPad right now either, because "I" means internet and "pad" is a generic term for a tablet.

No, it does not say that. It says that they can't trademark "iPad mini" because because "I" means internet and "pad" is a generic term for a tablet and "mini" is descriptive.

1) The analysis only applies to the current application, not to any other hypothetical application.

2) They already have the trademark on iPad (registered 3 years ago).

Re:It's obvious (1)

LihTox (754597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326007)

This just seems bizarre to me. I've never heard anyone refer to a tablet as a "pad", outside of Star Trek's PADDs, have you? That sounds like a bizarre ruling. Nor have I seen anyone attach i- to anything and not have it be a reference to Apple; there's e-commerce but not i-commerce, no one says "do you have an i-connection?", etc.

Am I missing something?

Re:It's obvious (2)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326071)

This just seems bizarre to me.

Yes, for the reasons you mention the ruling does seem bizarre to me. However, I suspect that the descriptiveness of "mini" is still enough to reject the application, even if the other reasoning is fallacious, so I didn't want to focus on arguing those points.

- The fact that there are no trademarks for "Mac mini" or "iPod mini" is strong evidence that "iPad mini" cannot be trademarked...

- The fact that there is a trademark for "iPad" is strong evidence that, well, you know, "iPad" can be trademarked ;-)

Re:It's obvious (1)

LihTox (754597) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326101)

Yes, for the reasons you mention the ruling does seem bizarre to me. However, I suspect that the descriptiveness of "mini" is still enough to reject the application, even if the other reasoning is fallacious, so I didn't want to focus on arguing those points.

- The fact that there are no trademarks for "Mac mini" or "iPod mini" is strong evidence that "iPad mini" cannot be trademarked...

- The fact that there is a trademark for "iPad" is strong evidence that, well, you know, "iPad" can be trademarked ;-)

Well, it IS possible for a trademark to slip into the public domain and be lost, maybe even in the time between the iPad trademark and this application. I'm wondering if that's what the patent reviewer had in mind?

I'm not even sure about the problem with mini, since I wouldn't say "I have a tablet mini!" but "I have a mini tablet!" But ok I guess. :)

Re:It's obvious (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326157)

Well, it IS possible for a trademark to slip into the public domain and be lost, maybe even in the time between the iPad trademark and this application. I'm wondering if that's what the patent reviewer had in mind?

I don't think so, because I certainly don't see "iPad" being used to refer to tables generically. I think your first reading was accurate, you were correct in finding it puzzling, and the reviewer's reasoning was just incorrect.

Re:It's obvious (2)

chmod a+x mojo (965286) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326103)

Nor have I seen anyone attach i- to anything and not have it be a reference to Apple

Weren't around in the 1999-2000 era then huh? Compaq had the iPaq running WinCE / WinMobile about the same time as Apple had come out with the iMac, and the HP / Compaq device is a lot closer to what a modern tablet is than the iMac could ever be considered.

I actually miss my iPaqs, it was nice having a built in stylus + holder - a decent small tipped stylus no less, not like the crap you an get today that is as big as your thumb - and a processor the literally could rival a desktop( my last iPaq was a 633Mhz with enough RAM to truly multitask + SD + CF card expansion with bluetooth, wifi and extra components that used the SD interface, back when desktops usually ran at ~1Ghz unless you dumped a ton of money into a 1.6-2.0Ghz system). Modern tablets had been getting close to the same usefulness again, at least before the Nexus 7/10 didn't ship with expansion....

Re:It's obvious (2)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326361)

This just seems bizarre to me. I've never heard anyone refer to a tablet as a "pad", outside of Star Trek's PADDs, have you? That sounds like a bizarre ruling. Nor have I seen anyone attach i- to anything and not have it be a reference to Apple; there's e-commerce but not i-commerce, no one says "do you have an i-connection?", etc.

Am I missing something?

Circa 1964. The movie 2001, A Space Odyssey. The Astronauts aboard Discovery got their news and telephone (videophone) on a tablet device called the NewsPad. I'm not sure that it actually was supposed to have general tablet computing features, since it wasn't a major component of the story, just another prop to set the story "in the Future". Actually, for all we know, it was only intended to echo the main video network of the ship and have no native intelligence at all but still, for what it's worth, it was a "Pad".

I don't weep for Apple, though. I would grant them a trademark on "iPad Mini", but they're of the stripe that would then turn around and sue everyone and anyone who used the word "Mini", up to and including the Mini Cooper.

Re:It's obvious (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43327107)

This just seems bizarre to me. I've never heard anyone refer to a tablet as a "pad", outside of Star Trek's PADDs, have you? That sounds like a bizarre ruling. Nor have I seen anyone attach i- to anything and not have it be a reference to Apple; there's e-commerce but not i-commerce, no one says "do you have an i-connection?", etc.

Am I missing something?

There are inodes, ibus, imdb for starters and of course, at least in the states, there is iHop. None of those have anything to do with Apple.

Re:It's obvious (1)

theVarangian (1948970) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326899)

Technically, it says that they can't trademark iPad right now either, because "I" means internet and "pad" is a generic term for a tablet. However, they also say that Apple can file an amended application claiming "acquired distinctiveness". Apple will have no trouble doing that, so basically, they can trademark it if they try again.

If they do that, they have to disclaim "mini" as being descriptive.

Cast your mind back to the 1998 Apple Back on Track Keynote. While introducing the iMac, The Steve stated that the 'i' stood for: internet, individual, instruct, inform, inspire (see here [youtube.com] , 16 min 35 seconds into the clip). These days it probably does not stand for anything in particular other than that a product named iSomething is automatically associated with Apple in the mind of the consumer. Companies get turned down for trademarks all the time simply because they try to trademark obvious crap, for example, the all mighty "Don't be evil" Google got the finger when they tried to trademark "Nexus One" because it's not enough to add a descriptive term to a trademark already granted to somebody else.

Re:It's obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326601)

Sounds like shaky reasoning on the USPTO's part. What about the Mini Cooper? Surely the manufacturer was able to trademark that?

I suppose this also means (5, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325725)

... our hopes of seeing an iPad Maxi are dashed, then?

Re:I suppose this also means (1, Redundant)

ganjadude (952775) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325749)

that would be the Maxi iPad

Re:I suppose this also means (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325841)

MaxiPad?

Re:I suppose this also means (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326043)

... our hopes of seeing an iPad Maxi are dashed, then?

Probably... But the good news is that the USPTO did grant them a trademark on "Light Day iPad Liners".

Re:I suppose this also means (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326111)

Re:I suppose this also means (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326509)

Hey, I only steal from the best!

Re:I suppose this also means (4, Funny)

Libertarian001 (453712) | about a year and a half ago | (#43327157)

A shame, really, because it would be on the bleeding edge...

Who else? (2, Interesting)

hahn (101816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325735)

Who else is actually going to name their product iPad Mini hoping that it will confuse buyers looking for Apple's iPad Mini? Oh, I see you there Samsung...

Re:Who else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325775)

They can't. Nobody, outside of china, can legally make a product called iPad mini because the iPad name is trademarked.

Re:Who else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326005)

They can't. Nobody, outside of china, can legally make a product called iPad mini because the iPad name is trademarked.

Who cares? Trademark or not, almost nobody outside of china makes anything like that anyway.

Re:Who else? (-1)

hahn (101816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326073)

Read the USPTO letter. It breaks down the name and claims that each part of the name is merely descriptive - "i" stands for internet, "pad" describes a class of pad computers, and "mini" describes a size that is smaller than the typical size in this class of computers.

So while Samsung might not be able to name a product "iPad", they *CAN* name a product "iPad Mini".

Yes, our legal system is run by idiots.

Re:Who else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326443)

Eh, this doesn't defeat the iPad trademark, it's well established and never meant "internet pad" unless iPod meant "internet pod". The main takeaway here is that a Galaxy Pad Mini will likely not be attacked on shaky grounds, there are no grounds at all.

Re:Who else? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326533)

So while Samsung might not be able to name a product "iPad", they *CAN* name a product "iPad Mini".

No, you are incorrect.

Re:Who else? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326253)

Who else is going to name something iPad Mini without infringing on the trademark for iPad? That's what this summary is missing...

Re:Who else? (2)

jedidiah (1196) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326379)

Apple might try to sue Samsung over trying to sell a Galaxy Mini or Google over selling a Nexus Mini or Dell over selling a Dell Mini.

Re:Who else? (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326977)

Apple might try to sue Samsung over trying to sell a Galaxy Mini or Google over selling a Nexus Mini or Dell over selling a Dell Mini.

Funny that Samsung actually does sell all kinds of (some existing product) minis.

Re:Who else? (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326387)

No, because Apple already trademarked iPad. It was Apple going for their usual hyper-protective trademarking stance. In actuality it wasn't necessary to trademark, they have protection on the name iPad, so this won't really affect anything. It's not unreasonable to say iPad mini is just a description of a small iPad.

iPad(tm) Mini (1)

corychristison (951993) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325757)

iPad(tm) Mini. Simple as that.

They already have a trademark on iPad, so it makes sense and would have saved them the filing fee, as miniscule as it probably was.

Re:iPad(tm) Mini (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325931)

Ah, but had they gotten "ipad mini" they could have gone after competitors who use "mini" alone. That would have been a pretty nice boon for Apple.

Re:iPad(tm) Mini (1)

sanchom (1681398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326059)

No, a trademark for "iPad mini", had it been granted, wouldn't prohibit the of "mini" in other contexts. "Austin Mini", "Mini Oreo", "Mini Ritz", "Blackberry Mini Keyboard", "Galaxy S4 Mini", "Android Mini Pad" would all be allowed, unless they cause confusion with the original mark.

Re:iPad(tm) Mini (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326133)

Things like Oreos aren't relevant because they are in another product group. The whole "confusion" aspect is very vague and partial marks are often an issue. It's not a simple character matching exercise.

Re:iPad(tm) Mini (1)

sanchom (1681398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326165)

Partial marks are often part of the issue, but the marks are considered as a whole, and you're correct, the test is whether the mark is confusing, not character matching.

They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (3, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325767)

The rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive. If this holds up (and I doubt it will), Microsoft could make a "Microsoft iPad", and LG, Samsung, Asus, would also be able to make "iPad" devices of their own. This would be a disaster for Apple, but I seriously doubt it is going to happen.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (3, Funny)

Dracos (107777) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325845)

Come on, most of Microsoft's software products have merely descriptive names: Windows, Word, Internet Explorer...

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326013)

Come on, most of Microsoft's software products have merely descriptive names: Windows, Word, Internet Explorer...

If Windows was supposed to be descriptive it would have been called Toolbars.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326039)

OTOH, Microsoft Works was curiously non-descriptive.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326061)

Since Windows is just a common word it can not be trademarked. Because of this Microsoft tends to write it as "Microsoft Windows".
This is one of the reasons they couldn't go after Lindows.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (1)

icebraining (1313345) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326781)

No, it's not because it's a common word, it's because it describes the product, or in this case a main part of it, its GUI.

And Windows is still trademarked, the court just "raised questions" over its validity, but it was never struck down.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (2, Funny)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325955)

But, but, but they put their "i" in front of it. Everyone knows that they own the lowercase "i".

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (1)

sanchom (1681398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326083)

The rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive.

I think Apple would have a good counter-argument in that "iPad" has acquired secondary meaning, and that consumers use that mark to distinguish between wares made by Apple and those made by others.

A mark being "merely descriptive" is a prohibition against registration unless that mark has acquired secondary meaning via extensive use in the marketplace.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326185)

I think Apple would have a good counter-argument in that "iPad" has acquired secondary meaning, and that consumers use that mark to distinguish between wares made by Apple and those made by others.

A mark being "merely descriptive" is a prohibition against registration unless that mark has acquired secondary meaning via extensive use in the marketplace.

I think that Apple would have a good counter-argument in that "iPad" has already been registered ;-)

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (1)

sanchom (1681398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326223)

Ya that too :) I don't know what russotto talking about when he/she said:

The rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive. If this holds up (and I doubt it will), Microsoft could make a "Microsoft iPad", and LG, Samsung, Asus, would also be able to make "iPad" devices of their own. This would be a disaster for Apple, but I seriously doubt it is going to happen.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326243)

Ya that too :) I don't know what russotto talking about when he/she said:

It seems that if the examiner's reasoning were to be applied to an application for "iPad", then that application would be denied. That much is true, but where russotto errs is in thinking that anything in this action could actually be applied to the existing trademark--or in thinking that this reasoning is more correct than the reasoning of the examiner who originally accepted "iPad".

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (3, Informative)

Theaetetus (590071) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326239)

The rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive. If this holds up (and I doubt it will), Microsoft could make a "Microsoft iPad", and LG, Samsung, Asus, would also be able to make "iPad" devices of their own. This would be a disaster for Apple, but I seriously doubt it is going to happen.

... except for the fact that Microsoft, Samsung, Asus, and LG would be infringing Apple's Trademark Reg. No. 3776575 for "IPAD" [uspto.gov] .

Specifically, the rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive, but Apple can submit evidence to show that that term has acquired secondary meaning and distinctiveness in the marketplace... and that other registered mark is conclusive evidence.

Microsoft disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326559)

Disaster for Apple? I think a "Microsoft iPad" would be a disaster for Microsoft!

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (1)

Guy Harris (3803) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326675)

The rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive.

If that means the USPTO plan to withdraw the registration for iPad, then it's probably goodbye iPhone as well. The prospect of either of those happening would probably be sufficient to cause Apple Legal to spin up into fully-operational-battle-station mode; the prospect of both should bring galaxy-buster-scale weapons into play.

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43327105)

The rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive. If this holds up (and I doubt it will), Microsoft could make a "Microsoft iPad", and LG, Samsung, Asus, would also be able to make "iPad" devices of their own. This would be a disaster for Apple, but I seriously doubt it is going to happen.

Hell, HP has a trademark on "iPaq". (Remember those?)

They should re-use that for their new 7" tablet. In the spirit of the USPTO trademark rules, they should call it "iPaq mini".

Re:They rejected the entire mark, not just "mini". (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about a year and a half ago | (#43327127)

The rejection states that "iPad" itself is also merely descriptive. If this holds up (and I doubt it will), Microsoft could make a "Microsoft iPad", and LG, Samsung, Asus, would also be able to make "iPad" devices of their own. This would be a disaster for Apple, but I seriously doubt it is going to happen.

Wouldn't this be similar to Bandaid brand bandages, then?

what's up with Apple legal? (2)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325789)

They don't have a trademark on Mac mini either, and I assume the reason is the same. So why even bother???

Re:what's up with Apple legal? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326009)

It is so they could start going after competitors that use "mini" in their name. For example Surface Mini, Tab Mini, Xoom Mini etc.

It was very sneaky and it's good that UPSTO caught on that.

Re:what's up with Apple legal? (1)

sanchom (1681398) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326107)

It is so they could start going after competitors that use "mini" in their name.

This isn't true. The test for confusion looks at the entire mark.

A trademark on "iPad Mini" wouldn't prohibit others from using the word "Mini" as part of another mark, unless that causes confusion with the original. For example, I doubt that a court would find "Surface Mini" confusing with "iPad Mini".

Re:what's up with Apple legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326493)

What about a SurfPad Mini? It's the "Pad Mini" combinations that might have gotten bullied with this one.

Re:what's up with Apple legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326541)

Somehow I don't think that wouldn't stop them from suing Samsung for releasing a Galaxy mini.

Re:what's up with Apple legal? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326915)

Keep trying until it works. It's not like they can't afford to.

XL T-shirt (1)

backslashdot (95548) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325795)

USPTO is correct on this, it's like someone getting a trademark on Extra LargeT-shirt.

Re:XL T-shirt (4, Insightful)

magic maverick (2615475) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325885)

Hey, I sell a beer called "Extra Large T-Shirt", and I'll have you know, the name is protected by trademark law. No other company can legally sell a beer called "Extra Large T-Shirt" in my geographical region. In fact, I sell a variety of beers with the "T-Shirt" mark, "Extra Large" just being one. "Large", "Medium" and "Small" are the others. The alcohol content goes from 12% for the XL, 9% for the L, 6% for the M and 3% for the S.

Re:XL T-shirt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326441)

Hey, I'm fucking retarded and girls don't talk to me.

Re:XL T-shirt (1)

BillX (307153) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326449)

Yes, that is perfectly acceptable in trademark law - "extra large t-shirt" (or any other t-shirt) would not be descriptive of beer. If the examiner was paying attention, they probably made you disclaim the size qualifiers as part of the mark, as these ARE descriptive for beverages.
Magic Hat Brewing can sell Magic Hat (Beer) and own that name in their market ("beverages", more or less). It would likely be considered "merely descriptive" of a top hat sold by a magic-trick shop, though.

Re:XL T-shirt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43327035)

Interestingly, one of the best tradeark stories comes from beer. 'Budweiser' used to be a generic descriptive, and Miller made a Budweiser. But Anheuser-Busch eventually won a trademark anyway.

Re:XL T-shirt (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326271)

It's only like that if that same someone already had a trademark on "LargeT-shirt" and are suddenly being challenged because they put the word "Extra" in front of it, which seems ridiculous to me.

as simple as possible, but no simpler (1)

beckett (27524) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325797)

The patent information is more than just the 'mini' suffix; they state the "i" in iPad, as well as the "Pad" in iPad, are also merely descriptive. When they named the iMac in 1998, the 'i' prefix was more novel that it was now. i wonder what position that puts the next 'iPhone' in for trademarks.

Apple's (i.e. Jobs') naming strategy was to make product names as simple and representative as possible to the product or function (e.g. iTunes, iMac, iPod). It is interesting that their nomenclature may be a double edged sword in terms of how aggressively even apple could defend such generic trademarks, if one had been given. If this rejection criteria becomes presidence, maybe we'll see "MS Word" and "Adobe Illustrator" also lose trademark privilege.

Descriptions not trademarked? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325811)

Well what about the Mini Cooper, Mini M&Ms, Micro Machines? Or Apple's previous products: Mac Mini, iPod Mini, iPod Nano? I'm curious to know if these had been previously trademarked? If so then is IPTO inconsistent?

Re:Descriptions not trademarked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325855)

If so then is IPTO inconsistent?

No it looks like some trade mark examiner should lose there job.

Re:Descriptions not trademarked? (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325883)

Or Apple's previous products: Mac Mini, iPod Mini, iPod Nano? I'm curious to know if these had been previously trademarked?

No, no, yes. (As 5 seconds at uspto.gov would have revealed.) So I guess "nano" is a less common work--or perhaps it's not a word in common usage, but a prefix. "Mini" means small, literally descriptive, while "nano" means 1 billionth, not exactly literal?

Re:Descriptions not trademarked? (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326283)

Well in computers, mini and micro were somewhat descriptive. Today's PCs are considered microcomputer as the original computers like ENIAC took up an entire room. A PDP-11 was considered a mini-computer as it was the size of refrigerator.

Re:Descriptions not trademarked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325901)

I see an iFan has his shorts on too tight. Come to defend the J_bs?

Re:Descriptions not trademarked? (5, Interesting)

russotto (537200) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325921)

"Mini Cooper" isn't merely descriptive -- there's no large Cooper that a Mini Cooper is a small version of.

"M&M's Minis" indeed trademarked, but contains the disclaimer "NO CLAIM IS MADE TO THE EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO USE "MINIS" APART FROM THE MARK AS SHOWN". The USPTO suggests that if Apple wants the mark, they should re-apply with a similar disclaimer (once they get past iPad itself being descriptive)

"Mac Mini" is not a registered trademark, nor is "iPod Mini"

"iPod Nano" is trademarked without the disclaimer.

"Micro Machines" has a disclaimer on "Machines". It's probably considered other than descriptive because it refers specifically to toy vehicles, not "machines" in a general sense.

And yes, the USPTO is inconsistent.

Re:Descriptions not trademarked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325957)

"Mini Cooper" isn't merely descriptive -- there's no large Cooper that a Mini Cooper is a small version of.

Cooper [wikipedia.org] was the name of the car company. Mini was the name of the car. You don't get more descriptive than that.

Re:Descriptions not trademarked? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326525)

No, it doesn't indeed, if "Mini Cooper" is a small version of said car company. Seeing that it is a small car your argument doesn't really hold. Besides, it's likely that the logo is a hell of a lot more important than the name.

Trademark law is not copywrite law (1)

metrometro (1092237) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325823)

Copyright is completely fucked. Trademark law is more or less sensible, and does useful things to protect consumers. This is an example.

The devil is in the details (4, Informative)

Warhawke (1312723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43325937)

Descriptive terms can still have a trademark where they have acquired a secondary meaning in the marketplace, which is how iPhone and iPad have survived. From the USPTO refusal:

Applicant is advised that, if the application is amended to seek registration on the Principal Register underTrademark Act Section 2(f) in part, applicant must disclaim the descriptive wording “MINI” apart fromthe mark as shown because it merely describes a characteristic or feature of applicant’s goods.

And then:

Applicant should submit a disclaimer in the following standardized format: No claim is made to the exclusive right to use “MINI” apart from the mark as shown.

Essentially the problem is that the whole term "iPad Mini" is descriptive, because even if "iPad" were (and it is) a protected trademark, you can't say "small iPad" and make that whole mark trademark-able, which is what "iPad Mini" attempts to do. While the application deconstructs the "iPad" term as merely descriptive (which is unfortunate because it probably makes this ruling appealable, since I don't think the prior trademark applications relied on the secondary meaning exception to a descriptive mark), that's just salt in the wound. The real reason it was denied is because they tried to call their iPad "Mini" and trademark the whole term. It's still quite possible for Apple to use the "iPad(R) Mini" mark denotation.

Also, for those who don't know, (R) is a registered trademark that has been filed with and approved by the USPTO, whereas (TM) is an unfiled trademark that you nevertheless use in business that could stand up to another company using your trademark. (R) [federal] will always trump (TM) [state].

Not rejected yet... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43325969)

Trademark law says you cannot use a term that is 'merely descriptive'. You can however trademark descriptive trademarks that have become associated in the market place with the mark holder's products. What the PTO has directed Apple to do is show that the term 'iPad' has acquired 'secondary meaning' such that the public knows that iPads cme from Apple. Apple will follow the PTO's request.

I would expect Apple to be easily able (through some expense) to show through market surveys surveys and by documenting ad campaigns that iPad as acquired secondary meaning.

Padmini is a very common Indian name for girls (3, Interesting)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326027)

There must tons and tons of products and registered trademarks around the name Padmini in India. An actress Padmini (no lastname) [google.com] is the top hit for Padmini in google. I know at least one car model was named Padmini. Every town will have a cafe or a grocery store or a hotel (lodge in local parlance) named Padmini. So I would not be surprised if some one there challenges iPad mini as "too similar to my registered brand name" there. Even if the case has no merit someone might sue just for the publicity or with some hope of reaching a settlement with a multinational company with deep pockets.

What about the Mac Mini? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326049)

Do they lose the trademark for that? Or did they not have it in the first place?

Re:What about the Mac Mini? (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326079)

Do they lose the trademark for that? Or did they not have it in the first place?

Never had it in the first place. (Nor "iPad mini"--the summary, as usual on /., is worded imprecisely.)

Wrong headline again... (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326093)

Apple didn't lose the "iPad Mini" trademark. They applied for the iPad Mini trademark, and it wasn't granted on the very first attempt. Nothing unusual there.

How can you loose what you don't have? (1)

Erk2 (2880293) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326173)

But if Apple have not had the trademark, how can they have lost it? I think the OP title is misleading.

Re:How can you loose what you don't have? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326823)

like an extra "o" ?

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326199)

So it'll be an Apple(R) iPad(TM) Mini, but not an Apple(R) iPad Mini(TM). Wow.

Did they apply for a trademark on The New iPad at the same time?

Shoulda called it the MeeNee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43326201)

... then it would have been granted.

IFone (1)

scatteredthoughts (2880633) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326263)

That was in Mexico, not Brazil!

Trivial to fix (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about a year and a half ago | (#43326827)

Change the names of the current ipad mini to ipad. Then call the original one, maxi ipad. That will take care of the issues.
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