USPTO denies Apple's trademark application for iPad mini

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
The United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied Apple's request for a trademark on the term "iPad mini," finding that the "mini" portion of the name is "merely descriptive" of goods or services available in miniature forms.

ipads mini


The USPTO's decision came in the form of a letter to Apple (via Forbes), in which the application reviewer refused registration of the trademark on grounds that "the applied-for mark merely describes a feature or characteristic of applicant's goods." The USPTO deems a mark "merely descriptive" "if it describes an ingredient, quality, characteristic, function, feature, purpose, or use of an applicant's goods and/or services."

Apple filed a trademark application for the iPad mini name shortly after it launched the device last year. The refusal letter, TechCrunch notes, was mailed to Apple on January 24, but only made public in the last few days.

In denying Apple's request, the reviewer notes that "the term 'MINI' in the applied for mark is also descriptive of a feature of applicant's product. Specifically, the attached evidence shows this wording means "something that is distinctively smaller than other members of its type or class'. See attached definition. The word 'mini' has been held merely descriptive of goods that are produced and sold in miniature form."

The reviewer also attaches multiple examples pulled from the Internet of a range of products marketed with the term "mini" attached to their names in some fashion. The commonness of the term, the reviewer argues, means that Apples use of the term signifies only "a small sized handheld tablet computer," and does not constitute "a unitary mark with a unique, incongruous, or otherwise nondescriptive meaning in relation to the goods and/or services."

The January letter also provided additional grounds for refusal of the application. A "web catalog or web page specimen," the letter says, "is not acceptable to show trademark use as a display associated with the goods because it fails to include a picture or a sufficient textual description of the goods in sufficiently close proximity to the necessary ordering information." Apple had submitted the iPad mini trademark application with images from its product webpages. Patently Apple notes that Apple commonly does so when submitting applications, and the USPTO does not seem to explain how this case is any different.

Apple has already secured a trademark on "iPad" in the United States and in multiple other countries around the world. The iPad maker can still amend its application for a trademark, provided it can prove that "a portion of the mark has acquired distinctiveness." Apple has until July 24 to better explain how "iPad mini" is sufficiently different from the larger-sized iPad to merit its own trademark.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 56
    thebumthebum Posts: 58member


    Just like "Windows" is a descriptive term for the type of user interface, a term in use long before Windows 1.0 came out.  If they're going to establish the "descriptive term" standard, MS should have their Windows trademark invalidated.

  • Reply 2 of 56
    Meh. This just opens the door for everyone else to call their tablet "iPad mini".
  • Reply 3 of 56
    ankleskaterankleskater Posts: 1,287member


    This is hilarious.

  • Reply 4 of 56
    bleh1234bleh1234 Posts: 146member
    iPod mini, Mac mini, Cooper mini, Arduino mini, TiVo mini etc.... just too common
  • Reply 5 of 56
    Meh. This just opens the door for everyone else to call their tablet "iPad mini".

    I'm pretty sure iPad is trademarked.
  • Reply 6 of 56
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

    Meh. This just opens the door for everyone else to call their tablet "iPad mini".


     


    They can't use "iPad", so not really.


     


    Even if they continue to be idiots and permanently deny it of Apple, this shouldn't matter at all. On the contrary, it could probably lead to an even better situation wherein the iPad mini is just called… iPad. 


     


    Then the iPad becomes as the MacBook family is, simply with different sizes. 8" iPad, 10" iPad, 13" iPad, 15" iPad. Simple.


     


    Watch my psychopath stalker spin that against me. image

  • Reply 7 of 56
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Silly.

    It's still covered by the 'iPad' trademark.
  • Reply 8 of 56
    bleh1234bleh1234 Posts: 146member
    Yes @TS. They can follow along the line of Nexus 4, Nexus 8, Nexus 10 ...
  • Reply 9 of 56
    sensisensi Posts: 346member
    Meh. This just opens the door for everyone else to call their tablet "iPad mini".
    Nope, what they mean is that iPad is already a registered trademark (in the US a least), and that "mini" is not worthy of another one.
  • Reply 10 of 56
    I'm trying to work out why Appleinsider have used a mockup image of the iPad mini when it was announced in October? Pretty poor that they can't even use an image of an actual iPad mini when that's what the article is about.
  • Reply 11 of 56
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by virginblue4 View Post

    I'm trying to work out why Appleinsider have used a mockup image of the iPad mini when it was announced in October? Pretty poor that they can't even use an image of an actual iPad mini when that's what the article is about.


     


    Be… cause it looks the same and there's no official image like that? I don't know myself, but does it matter? image


     


    You don't have to agree to terms and conditions to repost a mockup's image.


     


    Is this better? image


     


  • Reply 12 of 56
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,930member
    I'm pretty sure iPad is trademarked.

    It is. That makes the iPad Mini rejection not all that big of a deal. The iPad is still trademarked.
  • Reply 13 of 56


    On second thought, maybe I should have put the /s at the end of that...

  • Reply 14 of 56
    kpomkpom Posts: 617member
    Since iPad is a trademarked term, it's somewhat of a moot point? Who cares if Samsung can release a "Galaxy Tab mini" or Google a "Nexus mini" if they want?
  • Reply 15 of 56

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


     


    Be… cause it looks the same and there's no official image like that? I don't know myself, but does it matter? image


     


    You don't have to agree to terms and conditions to repost a mockup's image.


     


    Is this better? image


     




     


    "oo ooo ug... me has lollipop... me they call hugh from laurie tribe... me win staring contest. ug ug."

  • Reply 16 of 56


    Yet they have "iPod" and "iPod nano" both trademarked. Not sure how "iPod nano" made it through when "iPad Mini" didn't. Is the word "nano" too esoteric while "Mini" is generic?


     


    First thing I did when I saw this is do a Google search for "list of apple trademarks". Very first link goes straight to apple.com and a complete list of all their registered trademarks. For curiosity I tried the same with Samsung (since they sell a GS3 Mini). After going through the first 2 pages of links I gave up as I couldn't find a single location that lists them all.

  • Reply 17 of 56
    ltmpltmp Posts: 204member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post


    Yet they have "iPod" and "iPod nano" both trademarked. Not sure how "iPod nano" made it through when "iPad Mini" didn't. Is the word "nano" too esoteric while "Mini" is generic?


     


    First thing I did when I saw this is do a Google search for "list of apple trademarks". Very first link goes straight to apple.com and a complete list of all their registered trademarks. For curiosity I tried the same with Samsung (since they sell a GS3 Mini). After going through the first 2 pages of links I gave up as I couldn't find a single location that lists them all.



    interesting to note that they don't seem to have trademarks for the iPod mini or Mac mini.

  • Reply 18 of 56
    dagamer34dagamer34 Posts: 494member
    thebum wrote: »
    Just like "Windows" is a descriptive term for the type of user interface, a term in use long before Windows 1.0 came out.  If they're going to establish the "descriptive term" standard, MS should have their Windows trademark invalidated.

    The use of the word "Windows" to refer to the name of an operating system is distinct, which is why it has a trademark. However, "mini" in its common usage as referred to the mini is absolutely not unique. As someone else has already pointed out, there are plenty of other non-Apple products that use the word mini to mean "smaller". Besides, the iPad mini is already protected by the larger iPad trademark, Apple however is not going to be able to sue companies that name their smaller tablets "mini", and it would be preposterous to allow them to do so.

    Just because a product is popular doesn't mean they can own the use of the word in other products (see iPhone with Cisco and iTV and the British TV channel).
  • Reply 19 of 56
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member


    Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

    However, "mini" in its common usage as referred to the mini is absolutely not unique.


     


    There sure are a lot of products out there called "iPad mini" aren't there?






    As someone else has already pointed out, there are plenty of other non-Apple products that use the word mini to mean "smaller".





    Right, so they get trademarks and Apple doesn't because… 






    …it would be preposterous to allow them to do so.



     


    "How dare a company try to protect its creations! We'll have none of that!"






    Just because a product is popular doesn't mean they can own the use of the word…



     


    Nice strawman.

  • Reply 20 of 56
    isaidsoisaidso Posts: 750member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by bleh1234 View Post



    iPod mini, Mac mini, Cooper mini, Arduino mini, TiVo mini etc.... just too common


    I had thought of these as well. But are, in fact, non of these trademarked?


     


    Maybe the problem is that Apple didn't make the product's name a singular word (i.e. "iPadMini")

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