According to Electronista, Apple popped off to the patent office and trademarked the name before Chipzilla and used a slightly dodgy trademark in Jamaica to make sure it got it.
It has been assumed that Intel already owned the trademark for the Thunderbolt high-speed I/O technology, but it turned out applications with the US and Canadian trademark offices show that Apple filed for the mark using somewhat dubious legal footwork.
In November 2010, Apple made a trademark application for the Thunderbolt term in Jamaica.
It then used this to advance claims with the US Patent & Trademark Office and the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.
The USPTO has a record that Apple filed an application on May 6, 2011 for a trademark that would associate Thunderbolt with a variety of computer and data-related functions.
Packaging for the early 2011 Thunderbolt MacBook Pros state that Thunderbolt is a registered trademark of Intel, and Chipzilla lists Thunderbolt on its Trademark Information page.
What might be happening is that Apple is having a crack at claiming it invented the technology which was worked on by Intel under the name Light Peak.
Apple had been working on something similar and contributed some of its discoveries into the Thunderbolt project.
At this point it is not clear what Intel thinks of Apple for stealing its trademark, or if it knows.
The chipmaker might be finding itself up against Apple’s reality distortion field. Apple clearly thinks that the technology is so good, it must have been invented by Steve Jobs.