Electronics giant Apple has been denied the trademark for their iPad Mini tablet, the smaller version of their hugely-successful iPad tablet. Apple was told by the United States Patent Office that the name was “merely descriptive” and not unique enough.
“Registration is refused because the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or characteristic of applicant’s goods. A mark is merely descriptive if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose, or use of an applicant’s goods and/or services,” a letter from USPTO to Apple stated.
The USPTO expanded further on their descriptive ruling, stating that it does not fall under the correct guidelines that will make a trademark valid. “When a mark consists of this prefix coupled with a descriptive word or term for Internet-related goods and/or services, then the entire mark may be considered merely descriptive. The determination of whether a mark is merely descriptive is made in relation to an applicant’s goods and/or services, not in the abstract,” it explained.
The Patent Office also issued a warning to Apple in the same letter, saying that the company needs to submit a disclaimer with the wording “No claim is made to the exclusive right to use “MINI” apart from the mark as shown.” If Apple does not provide a required disclaimer, the USPTO may refuse to register the entire mark.
Apple has until the end of June to persuade the Patent Office that the iPad Mini is not just a smaller version of the iPad, but a completely separate device with its own unique features and properties. Once they have fully convinced the office of the unique features, the USPTO could reconsider and issue a trademark for iPad Mini.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor