Apple denied iPad Mini trademark in US

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.

Electronics giant Apple has been denied the trademark for their iPad Mini tablet (image: Apple)

“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