Apple Denied Trademark For Multi-Touch By Patent Office

The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple’s appeal to register a trademark for the term Multi-touch and Apple originally applied for the trademark on January 9th, 2007, the same day the iPhone was introduced. That application was denied by a lawyer for the USPTO and Apple then appealed to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The appeal was dismissed as the trademark attorney thinks the term multitouch is pretty much generic by now and it was concluded that the term does not only identify the technology underneath, but rather describes a method of usage of a device………………


Apple has been denied the tradmark for multi-touch, which they applied for on January 9, 2007 after the first iPhone was introduced and the decision was reached by the the Board, Apple then filed for an appeal which was then again shot-down. For the second time, Apple has been denied its trademark application for the term MULTI-TOUCH. The examining attorney refused registration under the Trademark Act, 15 USC § 1052(e)(1) on the grounds that the proposed mark was merely descriptive of Apple’s products. Apple appealed the refusal, but the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) upheld the examiner’s decision. The TTAB cited precedent holding that the greater the descriptiveness of a term, the higher the burden will be to establish secondary meaning and the TTAB reviewed the level of descriptiveness of the term MULTI-TOUCH. The examining attorney contended that the term was highly descriptive and identifies a type of touchscreen interface which ‘allows a user to manipulate and control the functions of an electronic device by using more than one finger simultaneously. The examining attorney also presented evidence from a variety of sources demonstrating use of MULTI-TOUCH as identifying the type of technology within a product, use of the term describing how a touch screen operates and use of the term outside of Apple products. Apple contended that the examiner’s evidence was dated and not reflective of current consumer perceptions and further contended that three other manufacturers use trademarks to describe their touchscreens. The TTAB stated that Apple’s arguments were not well taken and only of limited probative value because it did little to relieve Apple of its burden. The TTAB agreed with the examining attorney that MULTI-TOUCH was a highly descriptive term of the features of a product. Apple’s attempt to establish secondary meaning, the company attempted to rely on the success of the iPhone as evidence of secondary meaning. The TTAB noted that while the iPhone has been very successful, the application was for the term MULTI-TOUCH, not iPhone; thus the success of the iPhone was not helpful in proving that the public associates MULTI-TOUCH with Apple products. The TTAB stated that Apple had only been using MULTI-TOUCH for a short period of time and in a limited fashion, noting that the term does not appear on the goods themselves or even on the product packaging. Apple attempted to make other claims demonstrating its use of the term, but the TTAB dismissed these claims as being unsupported by any evidence in the record.


 Multi Touch Trademark


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