Apple denied trademark on multi-touch

There are signs that the patent system in the US is falling to bits after the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), denied that Steve Jobs was original.

Apple applied for a trademark on the term Multi-Touch on 9 January, 2007, the day the iPhone was introduced. Of course there were those who did not believe that such a generic term could be patented, but everyone knows that Apple is the only innovator in the world and if Steve said he coined the term he must have done.

But, Apple was initially refused a trademark for the term and went to the Appeal Board. The board upheld the initial refusal to grant the trademark.

In its ruling, the Trademark Office said that the greater the degree of descriptiveness the term has, the heavier the burden to prove it has attained secondary meaning.

The trademark attorney pointed out that the term “multitouch” has taken on generic meaning and is being used by a wide variety of publications to describe the touchscreen technology on Android phones, tablets, and notebooks.

According to the ruling “multi-touch” not only identifies the technology, but also describes how a user of the goods operates the device and Apple could not prove that it had acquired distinctiveness of this highly descriptive term.

It is a bit like Intel trying to trademark the letter “I” a while back. If it had succeeded in doing so then Steve would have had to invent different names for the iPhone and iPad for his iConnic gear.

You can read the ruling here