Apple Denied iPad Mini Trademark In The US
April 1, 2013

iPad Mini Trademark Application Denied By US Patent Office

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

When Apple released their smaller tablet last year, they sent in an application for a trademark on “iPad mini.” According to Patently Apple, the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has denied Apple´s application, saying the name is merely a description of the device and therefore not patentable. Apple received this letter in January, but it has only recently been made public. Though they´ve been denied the patent for now, the iPad mini maker has until July to change the collective mind of the USPTO.

The reviewer who denied Apple´s application begins their explanation for refusal by describing how the iPad name is patentable.

The term “IPAD” is descriptive when applied to applicant´s goods because the prefix “I” denotes “internet,” reads the USPTO refusal. “Applicant´s goods are identified as capable of providing access to the Internet.”

The reviewer is even willing to let the word “pad” go patented, noting that it “refers to a ℠pad computer´” which is capable of connecting to the Internet.

When it comes to the “mini” part, however, the USPTO reviewer writes that this is only a description and can be used for a number of goods.

“The examining attorney has also attached evidence from an internet search showing third party descriptive use of the term “mini” to describe the small size of various handheld digital devices,” reads the review.

If Apple wants to have this trademark granted to them, they´ll need to find a way to prove to the USPTO that “iPad mini” is, in fact, descriptive of the entire device and not just a smaller iPad.

This may be difficult to do, considering Apple´s own marketing holds the iPad mini as exactly that; an iPad, only smaller.

The USPTO also took issue with Apple only sending in the iPad mini product description page as a specimen instead of an actual iPad mini device. It´s an action which Patently Apple calls “aggressive,” saying that Apple “commonly provides USPTO with their appropriate product website pages as a specimen,” and that it´s never been refused until now.

It hasn´t been easy for Apple to acquire the necessary trademarks for their best-selling tablet computer. Though they were able to acquire the “iPad” trademark easily enough from Fujitsu in the US, they had notable difficulty settling their Chinese trademark.

Using the company “IP Application Development,” Apple purchased the iPad trademark from Proview Technology for $55,000. In late 2010, Proview began accusing Apple of trying to buy the trademark under a false name, therefore rendering the sale invalid. Furthermore, Proview claimed the use of the iPad trademark in China was also invalid, saying their $55,000 only bought them rights to use the trademark in Taiwan.

What followed was a long battle between Apple and the bankrupt Proview which was seeking for enough money to pay off their debts and repay investors. Though the company was seeking a reward of $400 million from the American company, Apple was ultimately able to settle for $60 million.